The Sundberg family, owners of the Royal Golf Club, commissioned Ron Kirby to set out their golf course in 2008. Two years later, having incorporated many of the property’s old trees and wetland areas into the routing, the architect delivered a delightful 18-hole layout to the client.
The Crowne Plaza Copenhagen Challenge on the European Challenge Tour was first hosted by the Royal course in 2012 – when the par five closing hole was played as a long par four – with Swede Kristoffer Broberg winning the event by three strokes from nearest challenger Simon Wakefield.
Course architect Ron Kirby kindly provided us with the following comments:
The site for this fine golf course was a target shooting range for many years, so to be able to proceed with the grading the property had to be cleaned by special forces of all buried munitions.
Limits for the proposed elevations had to be strictly obeyed. Shaping of all the features became a very delicate phase during construction so "A Shaper Casey " deserves a lot of praise for blending the course to the site so naturally.
The Royal Golf Club has many tee positions and I feel very strongly that this allows players of all categories to play the length of course that lets them enjoy a fun game of golf whilst still experiencing this super, challenging layout.
I don’t know what the design brief was when Ron Kirby was asked to fashion the fairways at the Royal – for sure, it wasn’t “set out a nice, easy run-of-the-mill layout to casually engage the masses that will flock to play from the city of Copenhagen”. This par 72 track from the regular “54” tees (that’s 5,400 metres or 5,905 yards) plays to a rating/slope of 77.5/150 or, as my course notes state, “insanely tough!!”
Not only are the holes extraordinarily narrow, they’re peppered with a myriad of wetland areas and sand hazards designed to make life as hard as possible for even the straightest of hitters. The course is set within a nature reserve, not too far from the international airport, but forget about enjoying a walk in the park if you plan to play here because it’s as difficult a golfing test that you could ever hope to face, no matter which tees you choose to play from.
The green on the par five 3rd is fronted by the widest, most penal wetland area I’ve ever seen on a golf course. And just when you think you might be recovering from that particular design feature, it’s repeated just two holes later at the par four 5th (rated with an incredible stroke index 12). The front nine concludes with a right doglegged par four where the fairway skirts around another enormous wetland area on its way to the two-tiered green.
The par three 13th is the least visually attractive of the four par threes on the card but the three-tiered design of its green was of great interest. The putting surface on the par three 16th sits behind water (like the short 7th), with the green buttressed by wooden sleepers, and it’s probably the best of the one-shot holes. The right doglegged par five 17th which follows is a terrific Cape hole and there’s water in play all along the right side of the hole before another menacing wetland area slashes across the fairway in front of the green.
The clubhouse is über modern – if a little bit on the “corporate” side – with a very helpful young man named Rougvie handling front of house operations. Out on the course, an amiable Irish fellow named Paddy acts as a marshal at the weekends – though I’m sure a large part of his job must be to offer on the spot counselling to unsuspecting beaten and bloodied golfers as he drives up in his buggy with extra sleeves of golf balls to replace those that have been lost in the rough or the reeds.
The Royal was immaculately presented so I’ve absolutely no qualms about its conditioning. I just wonder how many of its 435 members (and visiting guests) actually ENJOY playing such a challenging course on a regular basis because it’s such a serious test for serious golfers. If, for some perverse reason, you prefer your golf to be on the wicked side of demanding then this is just the place for you. I can understand why it’s been chosen in recent years as a stern examination for professionals on the European Challenge Tour but it’s a wee bit too taxing for the average handicapper like me.