Denmark has many venerable and good golf courses, but throughout the 1990s and into the new millennium, new golf courses were mushrooming. Some decent new courses were being built, but perhaps apart from Simon’s, no single golf club seemed ambitious enough to take golf course standards to a new level. Then Proark, a Danish investment company, came along who already had a few Danish courses under their wing, and they decided to build a new championship course next to the old course at Skjoldenæsholm. Proark hired Robert Trent Jones Jr. to design the new course and it opened for play in 2007 and raised the Danish golf course bar.
Robert Trent Jones Jr. writes: Thirty miles from Copenhagen, Skjoldenæsholm Golf Centre’s Jones Course is an open, risk/reward layout framed by forests. ur client at “Skoli” was a pension fund that already owned seven existing golf courses and wanted the Jones Course to serve as its flagship, worthy of wide recognition. The natural layout employs wispy grasses and plant types to create interesting contrasts along the ground plane and meld with the natural setting. Skoli was the first course in Denmark to feature multiple teeing areas. The 7,100-yard layout is all about position.
Several unusual challenges confronted us in designing the golf course. First, we had to incorporate a rock wall hundreds of years old into our routing. Taking our cue from courses such as North Berwick, we used the wall as a hazard that crosses several holes. We also had to design the routing on a site bisected by the Danish Tramway Museum. Just as at Prestwick and Royal Adelaide, railway tracks run adjacent to several holes, creating a sense of connection between golfers and the outside world. Finally, three holes at Skoli are located beside a national scenic highway in a zone where nothing not considered ‘natural’ is allowed to be built. Because golf course bunkers aren’t considered natural, we designed holes 13-15 with “grass defences” such as hollows and valleys.
Skjoldenaesholm measures more than 6,500 metres from the championship tees but strategy as well as length is all-important because there is often more than one way to play each Skjoldnæsholm hole. Some require tantalising risk and reward decisions, which may involve a potential watery grave.
When standing on the 1st tee at Skjoldenæsholm, you may think that you are on the way to play a forest course as trees surround the hole. However, it’s the only hole where trees flank the fairway on both sides. The rest of the course is in relatively open space with mature trees lining some holes on one side or the other.
The par five 2nd poses a strategic choice for long hitters, whether to go for the long tee shot in the hope of finding a narrow landing area from where the lake can be carried with the second shot or there’s the safe three-shot option alongside the lake. Similar strategic choices face players on the par five 5th and 18th, where water again comes into play.