Hills Golf & Sports Club was one of the most talked about new championship golf courses in Europe when it opened in 2005. In fact, many experienced commentators rated it as one of the top 10 new courses constructed in the world that year.
Named after the celebrated American architect Arthur Hills, who co-designed it along with Steve Forrest, the course at Hills Golf & Sports Club can be stretched to nearly 7,500 yards and is laid out over a rugged landscape that veers from marshland to forest ridge, through woodland and over rocky outcrops.
Situated just south of Gothenburg, the Hills course begins and ends in an enormous, natural amphitheatre, with the impressive clubhouse, 1st and 10th tees all sitting on a huge rocky promontory overlooking the 9th and 18th, where both of these holes are played either side of a lake. And here’s an old-fashioned twist to a modern design; back-to-back par threes at the 5th and 6th holes.
It’s hard to define the exact style of course at Hills as it varies so much over its length. Early holes with their water hazards between the 2nd to the 7th would not look out of place in Florida. The uphill par five 8th doglegs to the right through woodland that could be anywhere in central Europe whilst the par three 13th has the feel of a heathland course in rural Surrey.
Hills Golf Club filed for bankruptcy in 2011 and was rescued in 2012 by a consortium of golf enthusiasts fronted by European Tour pro Johan Edfors, who has since implemented a number of changes to the original Steve Forrest design. The 2018 Nordea Masters was hosted at Hills in August 2018. England's Paul Waring won the title, beating South African Thomas Aiken in a play-off to secure his maiden European Tour title after 200 previous attempts.
The best golf course you've never heard of. Arthur Hills had the misfortune of developing residential golf courses in the US and being overshadowed by Pete Dye and Nicklaus - if only he had done his work 20 years earlier and had better sites to work with - like Oitavos. I am confident that 50 years from now Hills' work will be rated higher than Nicklaus'es.
Hills is an excellent glf course and better than any course in Switzerland or Austria in my opinion. The only weak hole that i can think of is the par 3 hole 6, it's just the wrong angle with the trees on the right - not sure if that is due to the redesign by the new owners after the club went bust in the 2010s.
The risk/reward holes are terrific - such great variety on this course and beautiful bunkers inspired by links courses. A recovery shot is possible on most occasions, from bushes and trees.
Completely underrated and much better than Sweden's PGA national.
Set up for golf with a buggy, which I really do mot like. This means that if you decide to walk anyway, you are in for a real workout as many tees are placed on small hills (of course).
Also, some greens are turning into poa annua, which meant that that they were not that uniform when I visited in July 2016.
So, how to rate it? Putting aside my personal dislike of "buggy-centered" golf courses, it is clearly not in the same league as Bro Hof, Sand and PGA to compare it with some newer courses in Sweden. Actually, the Swedish course I kept thinking of what was Vidbynäs, but Hills offers a better overall experience.
Regionally, I would also place Vallda ahead of Hills.
So, overall maybe correctly valued.
Positives ? It should be possible to play fast...if you take a buggy on a less crowded time. Great clubhouse, good practice facilities. Lots of good golfers at this club....but the course is not my cup of tea.
4 balls it will be.
Hills GC have replaced the grass on its greens since this review was written and the new greens apparently play well, but a little soft.
Many courses which do not deal structurally with agronomy (mainly drainage but also light this far north) end up with poa annua and its related problems (Chambers Bay another example in a similar climate?), but nearby Vallda apparently has managed this issue well and continues to play on great fescue greens all through the course including greens which have rolled true every time I have visited.