Falsterbo is one of the few true classic links courses in Continental Europe. It’s located at the southernmost tip of Sweden on the scenic Falsterbo peninsula, where the Öresund and the Baltic meet. Bird watchers flock to this designated preservation area to spot the migrant birds, so you may pick up more birdies here than you bargained for.
Falsterbo Golf Club was founded in 1909 and it’s the third oldest club in Sweden. Nine holes were laid out around the lighthouse and then in 1930 a local doctor called Gunnar Bauer extended the course to 18 holes. Only two holes (7th and 14th) now remain of the original nine. Some serious remedial work on the greens was undertaken between 1996-2001 but apart from that, the layout remains true to Bauer’s 1930s design.
There’s a distinct British feel to Falsterbo and the club is strongly linked by its members to several British clubs (including Prestwick and Royal County Down), so it will come as no surprise that you’ll need to master the bump and run to score well With water on three sides it can get fiercely windy at Falsterbo and if you stray too far off the fairways your ball will be lost in punishing rough or perhaps even on one of the dazzling white sandy beaches.
The book 500 world’s greatest golf holes by author George Peper and the editors of GOLF magazine features the 160-yard par three 11th hole at Falsterbo: “On a course set on a peninsula, it could be said that the 11th hole is a microcosm of Falsterbo. The oval-shaped green complex is surrounded on three sides not by the Baltic Sea, but by one of the several lakes that dot the otherwise linksland property. Though the hole is short, it is certainly the most dramatic on the course, where the chances for par or double bogey are about equal.”
The brilliant 18th is a classic example of a wonderful short par five where the Baltic Sea and a fine white sandy beach stretch along the full length of the hole. Often played with the prevailing wind, the 18th can be reached in two shots. But whatever you do, don’t stray too far off line otherwise you’ll need your bucket and spade.
Thanks to its mild seaside climate, Falsterbo can be played throughout the year and during the winter (if there’s enough daylight) you’ll have no problems getting a tee time, you’ll just need to make a special effort to get here… it’s quite remote.
Here's what Golf Digest Sweden had to say about Falsterbo:
Tack vare både sitt läge och sin design tillhör Falsterbo de mest unika banorna på vår kontinent. Europatour-spelaren Adam Mednick har valt Falsterbo som sin hemmabana. ”Om jag bara fick spela en enda bana under resten av mitt liv skulle jag välja Falsterbo. De nya greenområdena har betytt ett stort lyft, banan har maximerat sin potential. Nu kan den inte bli bättre. På Falsterbo är golfspelets alla element närvarande.”
I'd been thoroughly spoiled the previous day playing at Halmstad and on arrival at Falsterbo I had a cooler breeze of maybe 1 to 2 clubs with some showers around: ahh yes, must be time for links golf.
First obstacle was the number of walkers and twitchers out and about, some clearly with little idea why there were people waiting on the first tee!
The course delivered pure links at the very south-western tip of Sweden, bordered by the Øresund on one side and the Baltic Sea on the other. It appeared to be a strongly focussed members course with a Portsea (for those who know Melbourne, Australia; a town at the tip of the Mornington Peninsula) feel to the surrounding suburb. I was maybe expecting more of the course but I've obviously been spoilt playing at Barnbougle Dunes and Lost Farm! A few too many holes running back and forth, but still classic linksland turf, green complexes and the ever present ocean breeze.
I only wish I had more time to spend in south western Sweden; it really seemed a golfers paradise.
Falsterbo and its surrounding area have long been a summer vacation spot for Swedes. This explains why the golf club was founded in 1909, and is the third oldest of the country. Since 1920 there has also been a major international horse show and competition in Falsterbo every summer, so if you want to go there mid-July, accommodation might be scarce.
Falsterbo GK is a very popular golf course in the summer, as evidenced by the green fee which goes from SKR 450 in the winter (yes, at the southern tip of Sweden and on the coast, you can play all year as a rule of thumb) to SKR 1200 from end June to mid-August, and the latter price is a hefty one anywhere, and in Sweden especially. It is definitely worth the price though.
When I first arrived at the end of the small road leading to Falsterbo and walked to the clubhouse, I first noticed the long row of tiny little seahouses lining the sea side of the driving range. Then I noticed that the small flags on the putting green are pretty unusual: the flagpole is made of wood, not metal or plastic. This golf course immediately looked like a place with traditions and families, and the clubhouse itself, a black-painted wooden building with a weather vane made of the initials FGK, reinforced my impression. Everything inside went very smoothly with a very friendly staff, and we were whisked to the first tee, just outside the clubhouse, where the starter met us, gave us a couple of hints, and off we went… to meet not only with a (mostly) very classic links golf course, but also with the weather links are famous for: soon after our tee off, the wind picked up, and then rain started to come in (not down, as it was going mostly sideways from the sea!). So our experience of Falsterbo was definitely complete, as exhilarating as it should be!
Some have said that the course is not totally a links course because the first three holes have trees, and the next three have water hazards, but I don’t think there is a strict law about that. The ground was definitely sandy and hard, even on the first few holes that are farthest from the sea, and it is not unusual to find marshes after the first rows of dunes. The bunkers have been overhauled over the years to the more “authentic” revetted links style, and the greens were progressively redesigned with more slopes, dips and speed. Pitching the green is often asking for trouble, it is better to pitch in front and let the ball release, “Scottish style”. Last but not least, even though the rough is still rough, the club has decided recently to thin it down a bit so players don’t waste too much time looking for balls, which in turn accelerates the pace of play.
I thoroughly enjoyed myself despite being pelted by rain during most of the round (but the fairways and greens held fast and hard), and loved the design, especially the 7th hole, a dog-leg par-four with a cluster of bunkers defending the green just in front of the clubhouse’s terrace; the 8th, a par-three with a big hollow on the left, close to a bunker, which will make the pin placement quite tricky; the 14th, a long par-three with the 1796 lighthouse in the background, and the last two holes of the course coming back to the clubhouse along the dune separating the beach from the golf course. The 18th hole is a shortish par-five with an exquisite green appearing to have been dug out of the sand dune.
The only trouble with this golf club is that the restaurant is too popular. Even with the strong weather we had on the course, there was no room for us to have lunch after the round, too many families there enjoying their Sunday lunch after a walk in the open maritime air of the peninsula!
This was my favourite layout from the nine courses played during a highly recommended tour of south west Sweden. The course lies in a beautifully secluded and peaceful coastal location and although it can only be described as classic links there are a handful of holes, found mainly on the front nine, with a rather different feel to them. It was quite surprising to discover that these holes are routed between numerous small lakes, giving them a marshland character somewhat reminiscent of Brancaster in places. Later in the day we played the neighbouring Flommen course which is set almost entirely across this type of ground, routed between natural water hazards of various shapes and sizes. Every aspect of your game is tested throughout Falsterbo's early holes as there's no shortage of cleverly positioned bunkers and out-of-bounds areas in addition to the water. As good as these holes are, the excellent but brutish 4th being particularly memorable, the best is yet to come with a return to a more traditional links feel at the short dogleg 7th. Although only measuring a meagre 320 yards, there are 14 bunkers to avoid before putting out on this most attractively situated green. The fabulous stretch of links golf that follows is briefly interrupted by more water on the short 11th, a do-or-die par-3 that's accessed by a long wooden bridge due to being almost completely surrounded by water. A tough proposition even without the wind. The 12th and 13th continue to impress, both being heavily bunkered, before we reach the last and longest of the short holes sitting in the shadow of the old lighthouse. The final four holes provide a wonderful conclusion to the round, the 15th and 16th taking you out to the tip of the peninsula and the 17th and 18th bringing us back along the dune sheltered shoreline. Don't miss the immaculate and welcoming old wooden clubhouse which is not only comfortable but has a certain old fashioned charm about it. Brian W
I have a bit conflicted feelings about Falsterbo.
It's the Swedish club that is the "most golf", they like their traditions here, which is definitely a big plus in my book, but that is also something which is off-putting (no pun intended) to some, especially in an equality-minded country such as ours. I even heard rumours that the club considered making the club house an English language only-zone, take that with a big pinch of salt though, it's probably the "Law of Jante" speaking.
The image some golfers have of the club isn't made less by the fact that the club is located in one of the most affluent areas in Sweden, at the very edge of the Falsterbo peninsula, something close to the Poole / Sandbanks area if you draw parallels to England. Also similar to the Poole area with their three top class courses, this area is home to three courses all within 10 minutes drive that to me all are top 25 in Sweden (Ljunghusen and Flommen the other two).
Falsterbo also have half a dozen excellent links hole that would not be out of place among the best courses on British Isles, lovely green areas with drop offs, undulations and excellent bunkers, as well as great risk and reward driving lines off the tees.
So why, with all this, do I feel that I lack something when I play here? Perhaps it's the first six holes that are not very linksy, and not very exciting. Perhaps it's that you don't get a glimpse of the sea until very far into the round, or perhaps it's because there is little vertical movement in the land. It's just that a course that is ranked this high should have something _more_.
As much as I would like to love the course, I don't, I'd rather play PGA National Links, which is a better course, or Flommen, which is a more feel good course.
However, all that said, don't hesitate to visit, I know many people love the course, and do rank it among the highest in Sweden.
Weak 5 balls.
The first thing you notice when arriving at the club is how spick and span everything is. The timber framed clubhouse and surrounding buildings look newly painted and there’s not a weed to be seen on any of the mono-blocked pathways. Everything is ordered and in its proper place, setting the tone for the complete “Falsterbo experience”.
I was a little surprised by the opening six holes. Firstly, they were pretty tough – with out of bounds tight down the right side of the first three fairways – so there’s no real easing yourself into the round. Secondly, I wasn’t prepared for the penal ponds and water courses that were in play at holes 2, 4, 5, and 6. Lastly, the underfoot conditions were not quite as links like as I’d have hoped for but, in fairness, these holes are located furthest from the coastline.
Even the likes of Ballybunion Old takes half a dozen holes to get really started so it was great to play the terrific short, left doglegged par four 7th (the last hole on the original nine) and realize the real links challenge was underway. Apart from the quirky, par three 11th, which is played to a peninsula green (with a central spine running from back to front), there’s little by way of water to contend with for the remainder of the round.
The closing third, from the par five 13th (“Tipperary”) at the old lighthouse to the par five 18th (“Klitterna”) by the side of the clubhouse, were an absolute joy to play. The 16th doglegs right to the tip of the peninsula, where bird watchers gather in their hundreds at certain times of the year to check out the migrating birds that pass through this strategic geographical point on the coastline.
The final two holes then follow the line of the dune ridge that borders the beach back to the clubhouse, with the home green nestled cosily into the foot of the sand hills. Falsterbo has been described as “a course with multiple personality disorder” in the book True Links by George Peper and Malcolm Campbell, which I won’t dispute, but the slightly different landforms gives the course its rather unique character - one that’s well worth experiencing if you fancy playing traditional links golf with a little twist.