Situated on the west coast of Sweden lies the world renowned Barsebäck Golf & Country Club. With two championship courses, there’s no shortage of great golf to be had at Barsebäck.
The Masters course itself is a bit of a brute but the 2003 European Solheim Cup team led by Swede Catrin Nilsmark tamed it. Catrin (who was the youngest ever European Solheim Cup captain) led Europe to a dramatic victory over the USA (17½ 10½). No doubt Catrin will always have fond memories of Barsebäck.
It’s a varied and interesting layout which starts off by meandering through well-cleared undulating woodland. At the par three 8th there is a dramatic topography change with its elevated tee providing a clear view of the task at hand. Your tee shot must reach the sanctuary of the small green, but first you must carry the lake and secondly you must not let the sea view backdrop disturb your concentration. From here on in it’s fun with a capital “F”. The next three holes are played hard alongside the Öresund and you’ll need your best seaside game intact to score well before heading into the deep pine forest for the closing holes.
Undeniably the Masters course at the Barsebäck Golf & Country Club, which was originally laid out by Ture Bruce in 1969, is tough. The greens are fast and true and the test is varied and immensely challenging, especially when stretched to an eye-watering 7,729 yards from the tips.
The club has hosted the Scandinavian Masters (now called the Nordea Masters) on multiple occasions, with winners including Colin Montgomerie, Adam Scott and Luke Donald. Additionally, Barsebäck is the home club of 2016 Open Champion Henrik Stenson, who was made an Honorary Member in 2007.
Will you like Barsebäck?
I think it very much depends on what kind of golf you prefer. Most Swedish golfers are brought up on parkland courses, or woodland courses which play as parkland rather than heathland. Most pro golf tournaments are also played on parkland courses, so many tour pros tend to prefer this kind of target golf, where they feel more in control than on windswept links or heathland courses where a bogey is just a poor bounce away.
However, for those of us who love nothing better than firm and fast turf, Barsebäck tends to disappoint as it does not really offer the heathland/links golf the site looks capable of. Therefore, if you plan your first outing to the region and your golfing taste is close to mine, put Falsterbo and PGA Links on top of your list instead.
All that said, it is a very capable championship layout which often is in very good condition. If you watch the European Tour regularly you may want to see to how the pros tackle the course 1-4 June, 2017, when the Nordea Scandinavian Masters comes to Henrik Stenson’s home course.
The three oldest reviews for the Masters awarded the course a 6-ball mark, which would indicate it’s a world class layout. The most recent 4-ball review (and the response from Louis Roren) is nearer the mark, in my opinion, because it’s a good course, but not great.
It doesn’t really get going for me until the 6th hole, doglegging right and uphill to a nicely contoured green. The par three 8th is more than a little contrived, forcing the routing down to the coastline, where the next three links like holes are played in splendid isolation.
I liked the cross bunkers on the right doglegged 11th but didn’t think these seaside holes really complemented what had gone before or what was still to come. I liked the heavily sand protected green on the par five 16th and that was about it, I’m afraid!
The idea of a parkland/seaside/woodland course is rather unique, I’ll grant you, but the sum of the parts didn’t really add up for me, to be honest, and I’d say the Masters course currently punches above its weight in the current national rankings (though it’s not alone in that regard).
The clubhouse and overnight accommodation facilities were excellent (even if it’s a quite a walk from one to the other) and I’ll always remember the roars from the club members when the Iceland football team scored their two goals against England during the European Championships on the large screen TV in the lounge that evening.
It’s just a pity the golf wasn’t as exciting earlier on the same day…