Czech nobleman plans to turn castle into golf resort


A Czech nobleman plans to build a 27-hole golf complex on his family’s hallowed, 650-acre estate in suburban Prague.

Of course, as you history buffs out there know, there are, strictly speaking, no longer any princes or princesses in the Czech Republic. The nation once known as Czechoslovakia abolished all vestiges of nobility nearly a century ago.

Nonetheless, Jiri Jan Lobkowicz is as royal as they come these days. He’s a member of one of the oldest Bohemian noble families, one that dates to medieval times. Over the centuries, the four branches of the Lobkowicz family have produced politicians, a poet, a diplomat, judges, the republic’s minister of defense, a military field marshall, and a renowned university professor. One family member helped to fund the careers of Ludwig von Beethoven and Joseph Haydn, the famous composers, both of whom obligingly dedicated music to him.

Nowadays, Lobkowicz is a winemaker and the president of a powerless and soon-to-be-defunct Czech political party. He lives in Melnik, a northern suburb of Prague, in a castle that overlooks the confluence of the Moldau and Elbe rivers. The castle is home to a museum, a restaurant, and a wine cellar dug out of the earth in the 14th century. Lobkowicz occasionally rents space in the castle for weddings and parties, and his property is often the site of concerts and festivals.

Before long, however, the estate will be transformed into a golf-centered community fit for a proverbial king. Fittingly, Lobkowicz aims to turn it into Royal Melnik Country Club, which his marketing experts say will offer “a modern lifestyle in an historic landscape.” The community will include 750 houses, a village center, an equestrian center, and a polo club, and the castle will be outfitted with a 70-suite hotel featuring a conference center and a spa.

Royal Melnik’s centerpiece will be Pheasantry Golf Club, which will consist of an 18-hole, championship-length private course and nine-hole public course.

Unfortunately, these days royalty doesn’t have the financial clout it once had. To raise money for construction, Lobkowicz has begun doing dog-and-pony shows for potential financiers, hoping they’ll fund the first phase of Royal Melnik. It’ll include the hotel and the nine-hole course.

Golf Inc. is accepting nominations for its 10th annual Development of the Year competition. This year's entrants already include projects around the world, including China, Russia, Europe, Central America and South America. To enter, email

This story originally appeared in the World Edition of the Golf Course Report, in a slightly different form. For a sample copy of the World Edition, call 301/680-9460 or write to

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