The Västerled (West) course at Österåker is a Sven Tumba/Jan Sederholm creation which opened for play in 1988 as the club’s championship layout. It has since hosted the Swedish PGA Championship, the Ladies European Tour and latest the European Amateur Team Championship in 2010, when new back tees (EM tees) were put in. To play from these tees you either need a plus handicap or special prior permission from the club manager.
Fortunately, the club owns its land and is located close to expanding Åkersberga, so it was possible to sell a relatively limited parcel for a very significant amount (200 million SEK has been mentioned). This gave the resources not only to rebuild the bunkers on the West course in a more "linksy" style (deeper and with revetted faces) but also to engage Henrik Stenson and Christian Lundin to design the new East course (Öster by Stenson) on land formerly occupied by sister course Österled and the 9-hole Hagby loop, the latter eliminated by the rebuild and the real estate sale, but replaced by a new 9-hole short (par 3) course in the middle of the club’s property.
It was originally planned that Västerled should close for a rebuild “to further strengthen its inland links characteristics” in 2020, but this project has been pushed back until 2022.
Västerled in its current edition is a semi-open parkland course with the routing taking each nine going left into a sheltered valley between two wooded hills while the opening and closing holes on each nine are more exposed to wind and framed by pretty waving red fescue and offer, with quite a stretch of imagination, vistas reminiscent of links or heathland.
If the course is rebuilt according to the masterplan on the club’s website some of the obvious weaknesses are going to disappear, such as the 90 degree dogleg left on hole 3 and the sloping fairway on hole 6. On the other hand, I am slightly worried that water is going to figure more prominently in the line of play than today, as this tends to penalise less accomplished players more than it manages to challenge the better ones and hardly is consistent with the stated ambition of being an "inland links". However, I understand the water is also a necessity and given this fact, I do enjoy that you need to think about your choice of club already on the first tee and that water threatens more often on the left, where better players tend to miss more often. Hopefully, the designers will keep this aspect on the layout.
Although I like that Västerled tries to offer more ground game options than the average Swedish parkland course, hopefully the coming rebuild will also include sand-capping and the right kind of drainage to enable the club to offer high-quality playing surfaces throughout the season on both its courses.
Fairly ranked in its current state, it will be very interesting to see the result of the upcoming rebuild.