Five years in the making, the Lübker Resort in Djursland opened to much acclaim by Danish golfers in 2008 and this Robert Trent Jones-designed golf complex is the centrepiece of a 500-acre estate that includes a luxury hotel and holiday apartments.
There are no half measures in evidence at Lübker as the golf facility extends to all of 36-holes, comprising three 9-hole loops – named Sand, Sky and Forest – along with an Academy layout for juniors and learners.
RTJ lead architect Bruce Charlton used a number of bold bunkering styles throughout the property but the most challenging design features here are the heavily contoured greens and aprons. With plenty of wetlands in play, Lübker provides a tough but fair test with conditioning that is second to none in northern Europe.
Golf Magazine in the USA chose the resort as the Best New International Course for 2008, describing it as, “Scandinavia's answer to Valderrama, this flawlessly conditioned 27-hole Robert Trent Jones II design, three hours from Copenhagen. Of the three nines, Sand and Sky form the premier pairing, while Forest is a less challenging loop”.
However, the Lübker golf course operation has encountered a few financial difficulties since it originally opened its tees for play. In January 2018 the course closed due to a dispute between the resort and landowners. Thankfully the differences were resolved and Lübker reopened in April 2018 in time for the start of the Danish golfing season.
Who would have thought ten years ago that three of the four top ranked courses in Denmark at the end of 2017 would be designs from American architect Robert Trent Jones Jnr? Of course, a lot has happened in the last decade, with the development of the three 9-hole circuits here at the Lϋbker resort and the designer’s two 18-hole layouts at the Scandinavian but it’s still quite an accomplishment to become such a dominant architectural force within this country.
I visited the Old and New courses at the Scandinavian last year and was suitably impressed so I was keen to see how the Sand and Sky nines compared during a short visit to Denmark last week. Head greenkeeper Spencer Lloyd-Pye was kind enough to brief me on the general maintenance operations out on the course before I set out to play and I was grateful for him spending so much of his valuable time with me.
In addition to 20 hectares of sand capped fairways, there are 4.5 hectares of greens and tees and a whopping 10 hectares of sand and waste bunkers to maintain at Lϋbker it’s little wonder Spencer has a team of ten greenkeepers and a fleet of vehicles to help him maintain the three 9-hole loops. There are also nineteen “red spot” conservation areas to be looked after – preserving the habitats of little animals like newts, toads and frogs – so it’s really quite a diverse property to keep on top of.
The Sand nine gets off to a sensational start with a double doglegged par five rising gently to a shallow, elevated green that’s set at a 45 degree angle to the fairway. The sandy waste areas on either side of the fairway (which can often be so hard to tie into their surroundings) were really pleasing on the eye and the ragged style of the left greenside bunker was just as visually stimulating.
The creeping bent grass green (cut daily and rolled by turf iron twice a week) was an absolute joy to putt on, with a gentle back to front tilt adding further interest to the playing experience. This hole set the tone for the remainder of the round; cleverly designed, beautifully constructed and maintained to a very high level indeed.
The sandy waste area theme continued on several other holes on this nine and the 5th in particular, where the sand slashed across the hole as it headed towards the green, creating a split fairway, was very cleverly executed. In all honesty, I don’t think I’ve ever seen this sort of hazard applied as well as it has been at Lϋbker.
Moving onto the Sky nine, and what a contrast in landscape here. The sublime sandy wasteland concept continues, but there are also several large wetland areas to be carried off the tee or on the approach shot. The par five 1st is a beast of a hole, doglegging left and down to where an enormous, lupin-infested wetland area lies ahead – for a moment I thought I must be back at the really difficult Royal course outside Copenhagen!
There are further tough aquatic demands made on the approach to the 3rd, the tee shot at both the 5th and 6th and with the second shot at the par five 9th so choosing the right tee to match your playing ability is absolutely essential on this nine, otherwise you’ll find yourself running out of golf balls at rather a rapid rate.
Incidentally, the Forest nine is also worth playing, even if it’s just to play one of the craziest par fours I’ve ever come across, the left doglegged par five 3rd, with water to the front and left of the green and a fairway that narrows to a slither measuring 8 metres wide and 100 metres long in front of the green – a totally unorthodox hole if ever I saw one!
Check out the Lϋbker website and you’ll see that you can play here from Monday to Wednesday for DKK 350, which is less than 50 quid. Although it’ll be a long walk if you don’t also hire a buggy, that’s an absolute bargain for a course currently ranked inside the Top 25 in Continental Europe and one of the most affordable green fee deals I’ve come across in a long while.
Playing the course at Lübker was a joy. the holes were well planned and the fairway and greens in the best of quality. The bunkers where a brilliant touch to this wonderful course where you get the feeling that you are exactly were you should be it doesn't come any better in Denmark.