There are two elements that make Kongsvinger stand out. Firstly, each hole is lined with tall firs creating separate corridors, not too narrow, not too wide; the holes are clearly presented for you to face the challenge. Secondly, the scale of Peter Nordwall’s design works beautifully in this landscape, with large greens, huge bunkers and the rolling slopes and swells of the fairways between the distinguished fir trees.
A book could be written about the deviousness of the 12th, a long par five, measuring 525 metres from the club tees. There is a huge hollow in the fairway at 210 metres and in that hollow there are camelback humps where the fairway then doglegs to the right. To drive the hollow you’ll need a carry of 270 metres from the club tees, so most players will be left pondering which club to use to lay up short of the hollow. With a perfectly considered and executed tee shot, you are then faced with a very long uphill second and there are bunkers lurking at 140 and 200 metres. With a crisp and well-placed second, you will still be left with a medium long approach shot to a sharply elevated green. There is some respite in that the putting surface isn’t devilish, just fine subtleness to the shaping. However, don’t leave the approach short as the front runoff will leave you with a very tough short pitch. This is a supremely challenging par five.
The 12th isn’t the only challenging hole at Kongsvinger. The 4th is a short, innocent looking par three with an elevated tee and a large green, but beware of the four huge bunkers if you are short or slightly offline, they are well hidden from the tee. Then there’s the knee knocking 9th with a teeshot over Lake Fløyta with two glaring bunkers on the aggressive player’s line. A conservative tee shot will leave you with a short approach, but it still remains tense as there is water and two delicately placed bunkers to the left, and a steep slope on the right that would leave a very delicate chip to save par.
The 14th is a demanding par three with an uphill tee shot to a long and undulating false fronted green that is guarded at the front by a deep bunker. And then there’s the 15th, a long par four that doglegs left with an uphill tee shot where the inside sweep is guarded by three large bunkers up towards the ridge. Even a solid, well placed tee shot could still end up in a troublesome spot for your approach, which is fairly long and severely downhill. Keeping the ball on the fairway is highly recommended because the putting surface is small tough to find and tilts right with a large swale mid left. You really need a precision approach to stay on this dance floor.
Kongsvinger is simply a cracking course that should be savoured. Jan Nordstrom