The sandy soil where Kristianstad’s West course (Åhus Västra) is located is so nutrient-poor that it could only carry crops two years out of ten when used as farmland! Therefore, other types of land use were eagerly sought and after playing the 14th you walk across the former town dump, now thankfully sealed, to get to the next tee.
These facts and others relating to the many pre-historic remains on the site can be found if you look out for the information placards on the local nature trail which crosses the course on the 3rd and 4th holes. Soil characteristics and conservation issues are probably two of the reasons why the West course presents a more austere and minimalistic face than club’s old East Course (Åhus Östra).
The West course, however, is no poor relation if you play it from the tips. From there it measures a mighty 6,800 meters (almost 7,500 yards), much longer than the 6,000 meters/6,600 yards of the East course. With a SSS/Course Rating of 76 it might actually be one of the most challenging courses in the country. Thankfully, the yellow tees offer a more manageable 5,869-meter/6,455-yard course.
However, the current 2006 design by Tommy Nordström with its Muirfield-inspired routing, the front nine in an outer, clock-wise loop and the back nine in an inside, counter-clockwise loop, closed early October 2020 for an extensive rebuild by Pierre Fulke. Fulke also masterminded the extensive 2016/17 makeover which took the club’s East Course (Åhus Östra) into the Swedish Top 10. Re-opening is scheduled for the second half of 2021. If the recently published master plan is implemented the current 1st, 8th, 9th and 17th will disappear to be replaced by new holes and par will drop from 72 to 71.
Played this course just before the extensive refurb, so will try to restrict my comments to the site and the routing. In many ways, both have more potential than the club's older East course. It also provides a view of what I think Barsebäck could be, if managed differently.
Really enjoyed the change from trees to open country several times in the round and despite these changes the course feels organic. The wind is really a challenge and so would probably the landforms and the bunkers be, if Fulke is permitted to move a bit more earth than what Nordström did when he laid out the course in 2006.
Will be very interesting to see which of the club's courses come out on top once the refurb is done.