The spectacular 18-hole Lofoten Links course opened in the summer of 2015 and it’s situated in a remote spot along the rugged coast of the island of Gimsøya, in the northern reaches of Norway, where golf can be played 24-hours a day during the months of June and July.
The course is set out by the seaside with the ocean as a water hazard on several holes and sandy beaches as natural bunkers on others. The signature hole arrives early at the 140-metre 2nd, where the two-tiered green sits on a little rocky outcrop, fronted by a solitary pot bunker.
On the back nine, the 430-metre 16th is the longest and toughest par four on the course. After a blind tee shot from the back markers, the hole then plays downhill, with the fairway narrowing considerably as it heads towards the inlet where the long, exposed green is sited.
Well-travelled photographer Kevin Murray was recently invited to take some snaps of the course by Troon Golf, the course operator. “It’s one of the most incredible locations I’ve even had the privilege to visit to take photographs,” said Murray.
“It’s not easy to get to – I went via Oslo, took a two-hour internal flight north and then a three-hour drive along some of the most amazing scenery you can imagine, through mountains and waterfalls. It really is out of this world. The course is built on an old Viking burial ground and there’s a spiritual element to Lofoten you simply cannot escape. It is truly, truly, magical.”
Course architect Jeremy Turner commented as follows:
In 1992, I was contacted by Tor Hov, the father of the driving force behind the project, Frode Hov. A visit to Lofoten convinced me that a spectacular links golf course could be created on the islands.
When Tor’s health declined I assured him that I would assist Frode in realizing the dream of making the course. It has been a long and winding road but thanks to Frode’s dedication to the task the 18-hole course stands virtually complete after a period of almost a quarter of a century.
It has taken a series of development phases, the final and most significant phase 2011-2014 being the construction of eleven new golf holes, re-design and construction of four existing golf holes and modifications to the three remaining existing holes.
While some further modifications to three of the previously existing golf holes remain to be done the course is more or less complete.As I once wrote back in the 1990s about the original 6-hole course: it represented 400 years of golfing tradition encapsulated in a few years work – a piece of Scotland washed up in the wilds of Lofoten!
Lofoten is one of THE best, if not THE best place in the world to view the Northern Lights in all of their glory. In early September we saw the lights on two out of our three nights there. Apparently this can occur from late August until early November.
Northern lights not your cup of tea?
Well I suggest you journey to Lofoten in their summer. In June/July the area has 24 hours of daylight, so golf can be played around the clock under the midnight sun. A journey to Lofoten should also include a visit to the local area. We visited Henningsvaer, a small port town with enormous charm that is known as the Venice of Norway, complete with a soccer field on a rocky island promontory – it has to be seen to be believed!
The links at Lofoten has a magical setting with a combination of imposing mountain and ocean backgrounds. The routing of the links incorporates no less than seven gorgeous ocean side holes. The combination of granite boulders defining tight landing areas plus carries over rolling sea and sandy coves on these holes is intoxicating.
No two holes are the same, and the variation continues on the inland holes where the undulating terrain, rocky outcrops and lakes have all been used to create memorable holes.
Hole 1 – an exhilarating short par 4 with an elevated tee requiring a carry over ocean and sandy cove to a tightly protected strip of fairway, and then a short iron to a beachside green.
Hole 2 – one of the world's iconic par 3's! A short iron to a green set on a rocky island green.
Hole 3 – a whopping ocean carry to a fairway that arcs around the cove.
Hole 7 – a par 5 over and around a lake where the fairway targets look impossibly narrow but are more playable than they look.
Hole 16 – probably the toughest hole, the long par 4 sixteenth is a brute into the wind, being long and tight and very exposed as the fairway runs along a narrow peninsula to a green surrounded by water.
Lofoten Links is destination golf personified.
Peter Wood is the founder of The Travelling Golfer – click the link to read his full review.
I should add to this that because the Lofoten climate is so tough, growth comes late there. I played it last night (15 June) and all the tees were just a few wisps of grass and a lot of sand. The greens were as much grit as grass. In a month they could be fine.
Unless one plays off the back tees, many of which were out of action, the course is rather short (6000 yds). Stray from the fairways and the marshy ground pretty much guarantees a lost ball. Some tough carries across penal terrain. The signposting between greens and tees needs to be improved - finding the latter can be an intelligence test.
Fantastic setting. Just remember the effective season from July-September.
A spectacular course with fantastic views. The layout of the holes is very good. Fun to play. Fairways in good condition. Greens were extremely slow and the some parts of the rough too tough. You can hit quite good shots and still miss the green. Very good service in the club house. A memory for life to play here. The course will be even better with the improvements mentioned above.
I visited the course in late June as a self-organised excursion on a cruise having pre-booked a tee time some months before. This was so easy to do and didn't involve upfront payments. The staff were extremely friendly and helpful and my request to bring forward the start time on arrival posed no problems. I also pre-booked club hire and the equipment was good quality Taylor Made. I am a 16 handicapper and was playing pretty well but managed to lose 6 balls in the first 7 holes as the fairways are pretty tight in places and going off line normally results in a visit to oblivion. There was some issue with grass growth on some tees and new greens but it’s the Arctic circle so not a surprise but from the condition of the more established holes this will sort itself in time. Did this matter? Not a bit! I was playing golf in the Arctic Circle with blue skies a fresh breeze and 75 degree temperatures. Life doesn't get a whole lot better. The views are just gorgeous to the extent that the golf is almost incidental. If you want a beautifully manicured course with all the mod cons then stick to the Home Counties but if you want something entirely different and are happy to blow the year's ball budget this is the place for you. Totally unforgettable
May i ask what cruise that was? I'd love to play here on a trip around europe but it's really tough to get to