Is the Ljunghusen golf course (1-18) a true links, or a maritime heathland course? I will let the debaters argue on. I simply had quite an experience at this golf club and I think this property should definitely be part of a golf trip in southern Sweden. As an added bonus for the eco-friendly crowd, Ljunghusen has been the very first golf course in the world GEO-certified (Golf Environment Organization, a group encouraging golf courses to reduce their impact on the environment and to develop sustainability practices) back in 2009 and is still working hard at improving its eco-balance.
Actually, what impressed me first at Ljunghusen was not the course itself, because even from the top floor of the clubhouse one can only see how far it stretches. There are so few vertical landmarks that it is difficult to get one’s bearings. A few trees along the first three holes that are located at the far end of the property, along the pine forest that covers the land, and then nothing but thick heather, assorted fescues and small bushes around the fairways. What struck me before teeing up was the number of families with kids of all ages armed with sets of clubs roaming around the clubhouse and the practice areas. Not only is this club a popular golf venue, but also that it attracts golfers of all ages. I was told that the club has 1,700 members, an impressive number.
Playing this course, even when the sun is shining, is not easy as the wind is certainly a very frequent actor here, even though the fairways are not the tightest I have seen and their bumps do not systematically run one’s ball into the rough or a bunker (there are quite a few of these). In fact, these fairways give your ball a really good roll and the greens are fast but true. The difficulty comes mainly from the usual hazard for this kind of course: any ball going into the rough stands a good chance of “returning to the wild”, and if not, the best course of action is to swallow your pride, take a wedge and simply make it back to the fairway, forget about forging ahead. In other words, keep it on the fairway at all times and you will be able to take advantage of the average-length design of Ljunghusen.
The club is going through some upgrading works these days: the committee has decided to start thinning out some of the heavier roughs in an effort to quicken the pace of play (until now players use up their five-minute search time too often). Also, on some of the holes the bunkers have been redesigned in revetted links-style, using a new technique: instead of using sod layers as tradition has it (again and again, as they have to be rebuilt frequently), the club is using recycled plastic bunker edges. This will allow the revetted faces of the bunkers to last 15 years or more, vs. 3 years for sod revetting. Apparently it also allows the walls to be more abrupt, so it’s a good thing none of the sand traps are really very deep! I have noticed a kinky bunker or two however on the course, where the revetted lip was not looking at the green but sideways or away from it. Good luck if your ball ever drops in one of those and comes to rest at the bottom of the wall... but I am told that the plan is to have hollow surfaces so that the ball naturally comes to rest in the center of the sand surface.
My playing partner, a long-time member of the club, warned me about the 12th hole, a par-five where a burn-style stream now crosses the fairway. As I soon discovered, the stream was very much in play for the second shot if you’re not very long off the tee, whereas the pros would never give it a second thought. “Not the right people to be bothered with it”, was the verdict; “hazards should keep the best golfers on their toes and not be there solely to frustrate the rest of us.”
The course is undergoing progressive changes and I expect that the result will be an improvement over what is a difficult, but exhilarating round along the Baltic sea, which can be seen often and comes into play on the 18th. I also played the original 9 holes, numbered 19-27 nowadays. They mostly retain the wilder character of links designs of old, even though the last few holes work their way around an inlet of the Baltic sea and have more to do with water hazards than with pure links.
Date: August 06, 2017