The city of Kalmar was a strategic border town between Sweden and Denmark until the late 1600s and its castle and cathedral are therefore rather grand for a town of its size.
Local enthusiasts formed the golf club in 1947 after suitable land was found north of town near Kalmarsund, the strait between Öland and the Swedish mainland. Rafael Sundblom designed the first nine holes together with local architect Gösta Gerdsiö, who also formed the other nine which was ready for play in 1966.
When another 18 holes were built in 1992, the old and new holes were mixed into two loops and it was not until a refurbishment of all greens supervised by Pierre Fulke in 2009 that members could play the old course again.
The club has formed many good players, the most famous of which is probably Joakim Haeggman, the first Swedish Ryder Cup player in 1993, but both current club manager Mårten Olander and pro Åsa Gottmo have played on the European Tour.
This parkland course puts a premium on accuracy. It starts with a par three, not very long (134 meters/148 yards) from the yellow tees but a real challenge at 182 meters/200 yards from the back tee as the shot needs to carry the water to reach the green.
The 2nd hole is flanked by mature oaks where anything that deviates too much from the centre-line might result in a blocked second shot and a sideways exit back out on the fairway. Rather unusually, the hardest hole, stroke index 1, on the course is a par three (the 13th), also requiring a tee shot over water, but this hole is long 174 meters/191 yards also from the yellow tees.
We recently played Kalmar's Old course with two members who were also decent golfers and received many valuable tips on where to place our tee shots. After a few excursions among the trees we also dialled down on the swing speed and focused more on precision. If you are not so lucky with your company on the day, make sure you study the course planner carefully before choosing your club on the tee.
To score well here you should thus be straight off the tee and also have a (very) good day with your irons and perhaps also your putter. The greens are not huge, so some sensitive hands making recoveries would not be bad either. If all this sounds daunting, it should not be. The course still looks very playable for most golfers, provided they pick the right tee and play to their ability, although the starting tee shot over water might scare less confident types, especially if the wind is up.
Worth playing, probably more than once, if you are in town anyway.