Halmstad’s Södra (South) course is laid out in the pine and birch forest just inland of the well-known Tylösand beach.
The South course consists of the front nine from the original 1938 course designed by Rafael Sundblom. In 1979, nine holes (the current holes 2-4, 9-11 and 14-16) designed by Frank Pennink were added, mainly on land inside the original loop. This did not result in an awkward routing, but on a few occasions you have to pay attention to the signs to make sure you are on the right tee.
Already on the first hole the course reveals its character: a short par four of less than 350 yards (312 meters) with water to the left after 200 yards. The green, however, slopes right to left, which favours an approach from the same left side. All in all, this hole positively begs you to consider starting your round with something other than a driver. Assuming you find the fairway, the second shot also has its share of difficulties: miss left and you are in the water, aim cautiously to the right and you might find the only bunker on the hole.
The second hole shows the rest of what is going to be on offer: a long, narrow par four in excess of 400 yards (376 meters), framed by high trees, demanding a precise tee shot avoiding two fairway bunkers, one on each side. The ideal tee shot is either short of the right bunker, suitable for the typical fade of higher handicappers or long, past the left bunker, a shot easier for those in single figures accustomed to drawing the ball.
The four par threes tell a similar story, by not being overly long but requiring careful club selection and precision – the final par three 18th plays into the prevailing wind off the sea. Otherwise, the wind is a factor mainly above the treetops and thus more difficult to assess than on courses laid out in open country.
The South course is not overly long at 5,823 meters (6,405 yards) from the tips. However, with plenty of holes demanding less than a driver off the tee, it may not necessarily play short and could be a real struggle for the golfer whose driving is erratic on the day. This does not necessarily mean a large number of lost balls, as the sparse ground vegetation of the pine forest makes it easy to find them. The exit back onto the fairway, though, may often have to be sideways.
Conditioning is at the same high level as the club’s more famous North course with fairways, greens and bunkers maintained to a standard which has few peers in Sweden. In this respect, the club probably breathed a huge sigh of relief in November 2016, when the court threw out a decision by the city of Halmstad to ban the use of pesticides altogether on part of the course.
We understand that many of the club members prefer the South course over the North. We may not want to go that far, but we feel that the course deserves more of your attention, so make sure you play both courses at Halmstad on your next visit.
Still remember my first round on this course many years ago: having forgotten my spikes at home, I had to negotiate the course in worn docksides on a course which was wet after a downpour....
Well, of course I played really well! Losing a bit of distance is not a huge problem here as precision and correct placement of shots is what builds a good score. It certainly helped that I played with long-time members, whose example I could follow and thus avoid some costly mistakes off the tee.
Most visitors opt for the more famous North course, which is longer and has a few iconic holes that the South course lacks. Most golfers, however, would probably enjoy the South course more, especially if you get to play with a member who can add that crucial bit of local knowledge. Otherwise, get the course planner to enjoy your round to the full!
Deserves to be much better known, probably also ranked higher, certainly if its tip-top conditioning is taken into account.
Now, should it be four or five balls? Sometimes this feels academic: it is probably five balls for someone with the game to suit this course and perhaps three for the long-driving types. Four balls would be my verdict.