The three founders of software company Navision sold their business to Microsoft in 2002 then, with part of the multi-million dollar proceeds, they set about converting an old military base near Copenhagen into a top tier golf facility.
It took four years for planning approval to be granted, during which time Robert Trent Jones II was approached to design the new golf complex – which was rather opportunistic, actually, as his company was already heavily involved in Denmark at the time, working on upscale projects at Lubker and Skjoldenaesholm.
The old rifle range at Farum didn’t sit on free draining soil so the option was taken to truck in huge quantities of sand to cap the clay fairways. Not an ideal solution, of course – rather an expensive option in fact but one that pays off handsomely during periods of prolonged bad weather.
RTJ2’s lead architect Bruce Charlton was entrusted with the job of laying out the fairways of this 36-hole complex and the Old course duly opened in the summer of 2010, a year ahead of the New.Accuracy is the watchword here because precision play is far more crucial than length off the tee. Cleverly, there are several instances on the Old where the illusion of danger has been built into the design; like on the 10th tee, where two nests of fairway bunkers appear to be one enormous sand trap and again at the 17th hole, where the landing area for the drive seems to be far smaller than it really is from the tee box.
I’ll be first to admit my Danish golfing CV is a little on the short side – having visited only one other course before playing here at the Scandinavian – but, after my recent round on the Old course, I can certainly understand why it’s currently ranked as the national number one.
Built on an epic scale, with an absolutely fabulous, cathedral-like modern clubhouse at the epicentre of a beautiful 500-acre property, the Scandinavian is home to a pair of ravishing Robert Trent Jones Jnr 18-hole courses that epitomize new money, high end golf at its very best.
I immediately fell in love with the Old course at the greensite of the par four 1st hole, where the putting surface requires no sand protection, thanks to the beautiful deep swales skirting either side of the opening green. Things get even better at the par five 2nd, with the fairway twice crossed by a small river, offering two alternative routes to the green.
The par four 4th was my favourite hole on the front nine, veering up and left from the tee towards a green that sits precariously behind a protecting pond. Only the bravest of players will dare risk a long approach with their second shot when the pragmatic approach is to lay up and pray that a chip and a putt will be enough for par.
And so it continues, one strong hole after another, until the routing returns golfers to the clubhouse at the par five, doglegged 9th, swinging down and sharply right to a narrow green that’s guarded by a menacing nest of bunkers along its right hand side.
Being hypercritical, I think the very short par three 5th is a little too tight and my playing partners were in general agreement that the pond-protected, inverted L-shaped green could do with a welcoming bail out area to the right of the putting surface – but that’s the only negative criticism of a wonderful outward half.
After the turn, the longer back nine continues in the same unrelenting fashion, with water hazards to be carried at each of the three one-shot holes. In fact, double checking the yardage book now, I see water comes into play at every hole bar one on the back nine (at the left doglegged 15th, with a lovely little wall to the front left of the two-tiered green) though it never once felt like the aquatic card was being played too often, such was the seemingly natural positioning of the little ponds and lakes in relation to the holes.
Our group of visiting golfers was totally spoiled by having the use of the 3-bedroomed guesthouse close to the 3rd green on the Old course the night before playing. Built in the same ultra-chic style as the clubhouse, it’s a modern day version of the old dormy houses that still operate at a few clubs, but with comfort levels way and above what golfers might reasonably expect.
My one regret was not being able to play the New course, having only had enough time for a quick look in a buggy at a few holes on the back nine where Jan, the Top 100 Nordic correspondent, took time to point out their particular architectural merits. Still, if ever a legitimate excuse was required for a return visit someday then I respectfully suggest I have it right there in a nutshell.