Bro Bålsta Golf Club is the home course of Annika Sörenstam. It’s where she learned her trade as a youngster and her parents still live a few minutes away from the course.
According to Bethan Cutler writing for the Ladies European Tour ahead of the 2006 Scandinavian TPC which was held at Bro Bålsta Golf Club: Sorenstam and her sister Charlotta were two of the first junior members of the club when there were just six holes and Sorenstam recalls fond memories of the many hours she spent at the golf course:
“We were here from the beginning. We picked up moss; we had a cleaning day every year in April where we would be out there cleaning up the course and picking up twigs and everything. I would say we were the premier members. We had putting competitions; we’d hit balls on the range. We’d actually dive in these lakes to catch golf balls. We didn’t want to buy them so we’d dive in and I think it’s funny when I look at it; I remember the fun that we had,” Annika said. “I’ve mowed the fringes, I picked up the trash, and I worked in the pro shop. I have very nice memories and it’s good to be back.”
Designed by Peter Nordwall and opened for play in 1982, Bro Bålsta is a strategic course, routed over pleasantly rolling terrain and set in a tranquil, rural setting a few kilometres to the south of Bålsta. It’s a course on which to test your putting skills on some of Sweden’s trickiest greens.
It was fitting that Annika birdied the final hole to win the 2006 Scandinavian TPC title on her home course where she played since 12 years of age.
Bro-Bålsta was the first “modern” golf course I played as a young golfer in Sweden in the late 1980s. The greens felt positively huge and very undulated compared to traditional Swedish woodland and parkland courses with small, flattish greens. Still remember having more than 40 putts without having a bad day on the greens...
Thirty years later, the design no longer stands out and most visiting golfers have played similar greens elsewhere. In my view, however, the good aspects of the design remain: (1) it presents a great test for your iron play without having overly difficult green-sites, (2) it is about placing your shots and thinking your way around the course, yet the penalties for not doing so are not severe. One key aspect of good golf course design is that the game can be enjoyed by golfers all over the skill spectrum. Here, B-B scores very highly.
Now, does this mean that you should shelve all plans to play Bro Hof and pick Bro-Bålsta instead? The answer to that question really depends on who is going to play. If the plural you is a group of hard-hitting, single-figure golfers with no budget restriction in sight....probably not. If your party is a more diverse group when it comes to skills and/or money and you do not particularly mind the kind of design B-B represents, why not?
There are around 60 golf courses in the Stockholm region. This website currently lists 12 of them. For me, there is no question that the two courses at Bro Hof, Ullna and Royal Drottningholm are the best. Bro-Bålsta is a quality course in the group just below. Your taste in golf course design will determine whether it belongs in your personal Stockholm Top 10 or not.