The village of Skjomen is located on the edge of a fjord, a few hundred kilometers to the north of the Arctic Circle. Here, under the watchful guard of Frostisen – one of Norway’s larger plateau glaciers – you will also find Narvik Golf Club, one of the world’s northernmost 18-hole golf courses. It’s an unlikely spot for a golf course, but, as nature has it, the Skjomen valley has a temperate microclimate, so the golfing season surprisingly runs from May to October.
Apart from the obvious challenges that Jan Sederholm planned with his crafty design, there is also the natural environment to consider, with tall firs, heather and moss outside the fairways. The key to a good score is accuracy, because moss is a particularly tricky playing surface… assuming you are lucky enough to find your ball.
Medium long at 5,900 meters from club tees, length is not the challenge at Narvik, precision is key and the 1st whets the appetite for what is to come. The opener is a short par four with a slight dogleg right; the tee shot needs to carry 180 meters slightly uphill to a ridge. Too short and you will have a blind approach or you will be blocked by a stand of firs, too long you are either in moss or blocked by the trees. With a well-executed and accurate tee shot you will have a short iron approach to an oblong green that is angled slightly to the line of play with a cunning runoff to the back.
1,500-meter mountains straddle the Skjomen valley, so you should soak up the atmosphere on the next few holes before you reach the 5th, a par five of 480 meters from the club tees. It’s an elevated tee with water before the fairway and at 190 meters the fairway moves sharply to the right so you’ll need a precision 200-meter drive to leave the ideal approach shot. The second shot should be a formality, but there are majestic firs to the right, and there’s a babbling brook along the left side to consider. The brook feeds in to a serene pond guarding the left side of the long, undulating green.
The 6th is a par four dogleg left and a decent tee shot will leave a medium approach to an inviting, albeit well bunkered, green. But don’t be short as there is another pond hidden just in front of the green, which is perhaps the reason why this short par four is stroke index 1. The 370-meter 7th is a devious hole as well, with three large cross-bunkers guarding a slightly elevated landing area. You need to be long enough from the tee, or you may need to play this hole as a three-shotter, as the green is tricky to find and particularly well bunkered.
Enjoy the tranquility of the pine forest as you play your way through a sequence of fine holes before facing the challenge of the 11th, a par four at 370 meters that doglegs sharp left. Again this is a hole for the precise hitter, as the slightly uphill teeshot needs to land at 190 meters to avoid firs and moss. You’ll then have to face a long approach of 170 meters to a very difficult green.
Fine hole after fine hole you’ll eventually reach the 18th, and what a cracking closing hole it is. Measuring 360 meters, this par four doglegs slightly to the right and at 200 meters there is a long fairway bunker on the outside sweep of the dogleg. We’re not sure whether the architect intended this to be a penal or a functional bunker. Mr Sederholm perhaps considered it to be a “pity” bunker and placed it there to prevent the greedy player from plonking the ball into the pond guarding the green. However, even with a perfectly positioned tee shot, the approach is still a challenge as the green is severely tiered and you’ll need to find the right plateau to avoid the prospect of a nasty closing three putt.