Located five kilometres east of the small seaside resort of Båstad, overlooking the sheltered waters of Laholm Bay, Båstad Golfklubb was established back in 1930, when the famous design firm of Hawtree and Taylor fashioned the Gamla course, the second oldest 18-hole layout in Sweden.
This fine old course served the golfing needs of the club for almost sixty years, until the ever-increasing demands of a growing membership resulted in the construction of a second, more modern 18-hole layout (the Nya) by respected architect Tommy Nordström in 1990.
After a relatively gentle start on the Gamla, it throws up three tough par fours in succession, starting at the long 6th, which is often played into the prevailing wind. The signature hole 12th is the first of back-to-back par fives on the back nine, with three dangerous cross bunkers strung out in front of its green.
The Old course at Bastad dates back quite a way to the early 1930s, when big name professionals of that era such as Henry Cotton and Percy Alliss were enticed to Sweden to play the newly opened Fred Hawtree & JH Taylor-designed layout. More recently, Martin Hawtree, Fred’s grandson, has installed a couple of new par fours at holes 7 and 8.
The par five opening hole sets the scene for what’s to follow, with the fairway doglegging left and down from the tee, before rising up to a heavily sand-protected three-tiered green – for the remainder of the round, the topography is similarly undulating, the greens are just as creatively contoured and the bunkers are deep and beautifully formed, both in and around the fairways and next to the greens.
The course isn’t laid out on the most expansive of sites so out of bounds comes into play at the 1st, 4th, 5th, 8th and 9th, though you’d really have to be wildly wayward to incur a penalty of stroke and distance on any of these holes. My playing companions weren’t too sure about the two new Hawtree holes in the south east corner of the property but I thought they blended in beautifully with the others.
On the back nine, the par fives at 12 and 13 are really outstanding holes. The 12th plays straight uphill towards a huge windmill that sits behind the green, with a very intimidating set of cross bunkers to negotiate 160 metres from the front of the putting surface. The 13th then heads back downhill, with the fairway narrowing markedly as it approaches a raised three-tiered green which is flanked by low stone walls on either side.
To be honest, I’m absolutely amazed that this course is ranked as low as it is right now. Granted, I’ve not played most of those that occupy higher positions in the rankings but, in light of the relative placing of those that I have played, I think the Old course deserves a lot better, even if just to recognize the wonderful bunkering that has been installed throughout the course.