OK, so there are only four courses on the Åland Islands so perhaps you might think that No.1 position is nothing to write home about, but the Castle course is a layout which stands up on its own right and it was rated 4th best course in Finland by Golf Digest in 2001.
You might expect a golf club formed in such a remote location with such a sparse population to be content with building a 9-hole course to meet the golfing needs of the local residents and visitors – not a bit of it at Ålands Golf Club!
Right from the beginning, in 1983, they built not one, but two 18-hole layouts (the King's and the Castle) to satisfy the prodigious golfing appetite of the locals and these courses were designed by architect Jan Sederholm in the shadow of medieval Kastelholm Castle.
The slightly larger of the two courses, the Castle course is a fine parkland track that measures 6,132 yards with a par of 71 and is configured with seven par fours (none over 400 yards), five par fives and six par threes.
Two of the best holes come late in the round at the Castle. The 545-yard 15th is a double doglegged par five played downhill to an elevated green sloping towards a front bunker and the 178-yard par three 17th has a bail out area on the left to compensate for sand and water hazards to the right of the green.
The Castle course closed in September 2018 for renovations and will not re-open until summer 2020. Philip Christian Spogárd of Spogárd & VanderVaart decided that the sea needed to play a more prominent role in the strategy of the layout. The Castle course did not take advantage of its close proximity to the shoreline, so Spogárd has pushed a number of holes right onto the seashore. The new layout is markedly different from the old, though it’s routed along the original hole corridors.
According to Adam Lawrence of Golf Course Architecture: “All in all, the new Castle course is clearly destined to be a very fine piece of work indeed, one of the best in Scandinavia, perhaps even among the best in Europe… For architect Spogárd and his partner Michiel van der Vaart, already recognised as one of Europe’s most exciting up and coming design teams, it is another triumph. Golfers from around the world should be figuring out how to get to the Ålands, where they’ll see something genuinely new and good.”