Rya Golf Club dates back to 1934 and is the 19th oldest golf club in Sweden. The first 9-hole course at Rya opened in 1937, designed by Carl-Erik Nordgren, and was extended to 18 holes in 1956 by Rafael Sundblom and then modified in 1970 to the current routing by Anders Amilon. Jan Sederholm subsequently implemented some minor modifications and, more recently, Johan Benestam has upgraded the course with new bunkering, a few new greens and general arboreal management around the property.
One of the memorable characteristics of Rya is the splendid combination of seaside and parkland. The course opens with four holes along the seashore, and although they seem relatively simple on the card they become a thorough challenge on windy days. The 4th, a short par three measuring only 100 meters from the club tees, is located just in front of the clubhouse restaurant, there’s water to the front and right, and the hole is fully exposed to the wind off the sea, and to make things even trickier, it’s neatly bunkered too.
At the 5th the course moves to the parkland stretch and at the 8th you will find a great example of a short par five that can be both challenging and fun to play. It's quite short at 420 meters from the club tees, but distance can be deceiving. Many a player has been tempted to cut the corner on the dogleg to go for the green in two, only to find trouble in the inside bunker and we understand the temptation, but it should be noted that the approach to the green is well protected by a pond surrounded by tall reeds and out of bounds to the sides. A conservative plan is preferable considering that the green is quite tricky… be cautious on the layup though. The 8th was voted “Best hole in Sweden” by the readers of Golf Digest a few years ago.
Arriving at Rya’s signature hole the 16th, a medium downhill par three, take a moment to admire the view of Öresund and the coast of Denmark in the background, also note the round clay-brick kiln house. Clay-bricks were produced at Rya for over 400 years until the early 1900s.Rya Golf Club may not be a championship course, but it is a fair and fun test for any golfer. In the summer the location on the beach offers a tempting opportunity to cool off after the round, which is an added bonus.
I played the course in August 2021 - and was pleasantly surprised, mostly by the views despite the course playing very soft.
Holes 1 to 3 were the highlight - true links golf - what followed afterwards was bound to be a disappointment. The generic holes 5, 6, 9 - 14 could be found anywhere in the middle of Germany or Nebraska.
Swedish golf architects like to put lakes 100 yards away from the ocean - I don't think I will ever understand that.
Aren't Sand Hills, Dismal River, Wild Horse and Awarii Dunes in the relative middle of Nebraska? Doesn't seem too bad...
(I get your point, but I'd be remiss if I didn't defend my Cornhusker pals).
Rya must be one of Sweden’s most scenic courses with the Öresund strait visible from most parts of the course and I would guess you also see the Danish coast on the other side on most days. We certainly did.
The club has a distinguished history and the course has developed through many iterations since the 1930s. As a result it has its share of quirky holes which you would not find on a course built from scratch in the modern era. Some of these holes are wonderful such as the par 3 16th while I found the uphill par 4 9th hard to like.
Despite the location hard by the sea, Rya is not a true links course and the fairway turf was anything but linksy during our visit in May 2021, probably not helped by a cold April and significant downpours in the days immediately prior. Happily, the club volunteered a reduced green-fee, albeit formally for other reasons.
Longer term, it is also good to see that the club has grasped the nettle and started to rebuild their greens, their bunkers and clear their trees. The remaining old greens are mainly flat, while the new ones have plenty of subtle movement in them, making putting interesting. The members we spoke to during our visit called them “very difficult”, but we have played on Johan Benestam’s greens at Drottningholm for ten years, so had less of a problem.
Worth considering for its wonderful views and the traditional and quirky layout. Do try to choose a dry spell and a day with some wind to get the best out of the place.