Stavanger – joint European City of Culture with Liverpool in 2008 – is best known as a former sardine fishing port turned North Sea oil production hub. It’s home to over 100,000 inhabitants, a good proportion of whom pursue their golfing activities on the nearby courses from April to November every year.
The 6,281-yard, par 71 course at Stavanger Golf Club lies close to the town centre and was designed by British architect Fred Smith who routed the eighteen holes over undulating land beside Store Stokkavann, a freshwater lake surrounded by forests. Unsurprisingly then, Stavanger Golf Club’s holes are tree-lined and relatively tight so precision off the tee are the watchwords here.
The round opens with a couple of gentle par fours before one of the best holes on the card is played. The 180-yard, par three, 3rd runs beside Store Stokkavann and the tee shot must be played from an elevated position across an inlet from the lake that runs in front of the green.
On the back nine, there is a very strong run of par fours sandwiched between the par threes at the 10th and 17th holes before the 508-yard, par five, 18th hole concludes the round. A narrow, left doglegged hole, it demands accuracy all the way from tee to green otherwise the encroaching tree line will put paid to any chance of a finishing five on the card.
The club is keen to redevelop Stavanger on an ongoing basis and Niblick Golf Design reconstructed both the greens on the 1st and the 10th in 2006 as part of a refurbishment program. In 2009, the same company replaced all the other greens, installed new drainage and rebunkered many of the holes.
The main golf course in Stavanger, set next to a suburban lake about 10 minutes from the centre of the city. It's a parkland members course that seemed generally busy and the fairways and greens showed plenty of wear but without unduly affecting the condition of the course. Plenty of trees lining every hole and very green, with enough hazards and changes in direction of the fairways to make the course interesting.
I haven't played any other courses in Norway, so can't compare this against other courses there, but comparing it to other courses in Continental Europe and the British Isles, I'd say this is a solid course without being spectacular.