Oslo GolfKlubb is the oldest golf club in Norway, dating back to 1924, when founding members laid out a 9-hole course on the southern shores of Lake Bogstad. The original course became a full 18-hole layout eight years later and it has been modified on a number of occasions since then – most notably in 1940, 1949, 1957 and 1975 – with the nines reversed on a couple of occasions.
Occupying a compact 120-acre site, the course underwent its most radical transformation between September 2007 and May 2009, under the watchful eye of American architect Steve Forrest. During that period, the equivalent of 4,500 truckloads of sand was imported from Denmark to cap the clay-based fairways, thousands of metres of drainage lines and hundreds of catch basins were installed, all eighteen greens were reconstructed with state of the art subair systems, five hundred trees were removed and the entire property reseeded with bent grass.
Architect Steve Forrest commented on the Oslo course upgrade as follows: “In addition to making significant improvements to the golf course drainage system, we enhanced the strategic aspects on every hole. Our goal was to make players think about the options available to them on every shot. At the same time, we wanted to add beauty and fun to the golf experience by taking advantage of the extraordinary green locations on holes 7, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 16. The natural beauty of the site will always be there. We simply showcased it in a way that would further elevate the status of Oslo Golfklubb (Bogstad).”
The result is really quite astonishing, with the old course now converted into an ultra-modern layout that’s well equipped to handle all that the golf world can throw at it in the years ahead. No wonder the mission statement of the club management is to ensure that Oslo golf club is “a fantastic place to be” for its two thousand members. That’s exactly what Bogstad is.
The course is a regular venue for the Norwegian Masters, a Ladies European tour event, and the club has recently established an extensive practice facility which doubles up as an outdoor ice skating rink in the winter. Plans are also currently in place to launch a bid to host the biennial Solheim Cup in 2019 so watch this space for further news.
Any golfer playing this course gets a great experience, and plenty of exercise. The trees around the parkland are mature, the design of the course has been modernized to remain a varied and interesting challenge, the greens are manicured and fast, and the clubhouse has been completely rebuilt and extended, reopening in 2020 with a magnificent terrace overseeing the first tee and eighteenth green. The parkland setting offers many beautiful views of the hilly countryside and of the Bogstad lake, which comes into play on the 13th, 14th and 16th holes. On the physical exertion side, the player goes up and down hills several times: the 7th is probably the only flattish hole among the first nine, and only the 13th and 14th par-fours would be considered as mostly flat on the back nine, while all of the remaining holes either go up and down, or include quite noticeable elevation changes between tee and green. The 17th and 18th climb the hill back to the clubhouse one last time, making the pause and drinks at the 19th a welcome… necessity!
The par-threes at Oslo are no gimmies: while the first one, the 3rd hole, is apparently without great danger (one can land short of the green and have a simple chip to get close to the pin) the others (8th, 11th and 16th holes) do not allow for much error. The 8th green is sharply elevated over the approach area; the 11th tee stands a good 20 meters above the green, with only a small, sunken landing area short of it and a sharp drop to the left; and the 16th crosses the end of a (beautiful) lake so being short is not an option there either. Last but not least, the length of these holes varies from 157 to 225 meters from the tips. Definitely no short-change here!
The par-fives do not provide much relaxation time either: except for the 2nd hole, a fairly short affair at 449 meters from the back tees, which is rated 13th on the card, the other three long holes are the 1st, 6th and 2nd most difficult holes on the course. No doubt their length (no less than 505 meters) and their twisting layout will make birdies laudable (and rare) scores.
And the par-fours then? They are very varied, some quite long (the 4th, 392 meters), some are surprising (the down-and-up 5th and 6th, the 12th with its second shot over a gorge to a green flanked by a dam and waterfall); some are relatively short (the 7th and 14th, but there are twists in their layout…). In my opinion, the 13th is the only "quiet" hole on the course, even though the green is not an easy proposition: it is protected by bunkers in front and it slants away from the fairway towards the lake just a few yards away so neither short nor long shots will be safe.
The only faults I can find with the course are: sometimes the back tees of the next hole are very far away from the last green (I am a lazy golfer I guess), such as the tees on the 2nd, 4th, 9th, 16th and 18th holes; the geese have a tendency to use the course as a defecating area (especially the fairways and greens of the 13th, 15th and 16th holes!).
Every time I go to Norway I look for an opportunity to play the Oslo Golfklubb. In the summer and fall, this course is a real treat. It is just bad luck that given the latitude of its location the season is so short: the course does not open before mid-May most years, and often shuts down as soon as early October, so it is in perfect shape only for 4 months-plus a year. During that time though, Oslo GK is certainly at the top of the Norwegian golf ladder (#1 for some, #2 for others)!
Unquestionably the best course I've played in Norway. Classic design based around the local lake, with varied and challenging holes. Very impressive condition considering it’s based in a part of the world that has 6-month long winters. Club house / training facilities are good, although not amazing, but the golf course in itself is magnificent. Based close to Oslo city centre and should be first on your list of Oslo golf courses if you're a visitor.
Played Oslo in late July and despite the harsh summer I found it to be in great conditions. Overall this is a strong test of golf but quite fair. There are no trick here as the course demands are quite obvious and if you meet them you can score well. The layout has enough elevation changes to keep you on guard and also some wonderful water views that are worth a picture. Highly worth a visit although the guest green fee is substantial.
If you think that Oslo’s course will be a charming, sleepy old track because it dates back almost a hundred years then think again. It may well be Norway’s oldest course (established as a 9-holer in 1924) but it’s also one of the most technologically advanced modern courses in Europe, having undergone an extensive multi million Kroner upgrade in 2008.
The fairways are laid out on quite hilly terrain, particularly on the front nine. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever been on a course before where the opening six holes have had a pronounced “downhill followed by an uphill” pattern repeated three times.
The landscape levels out at the short par four 7th, and this was my pick of the holes on the front nine, played to a green that sits on the edge of a little escarpment so that anything mishit to the left of the target (like my approach shot) is dead.
The routing for the back nine brings the fairways down to the edge of the lake at holes 13, 14, and 16 with the short par four 14th, (said to be architect Steve Forrest’s favourite) a standout for me.
Currently, Oslo lies at number 2 in the Norwegian rankings on this website but I can understand why some may feel that it’s still the national number 1. Such is the popularity of this classy old club, I was astonished to learn that there’s currently a 6-year waiting list for entry to the club as it can only accept around 100 new golfers every season. That statistic alone gives you an indication of how good Oslo is.