American architects Brian Curley and Lee Schmidt are well used to being involved in large scale golf developments around the world – having constructed five courses simultaneously at Mission Hills in China between 2002 and 2004 – so their 36-hole project at Vidbynäs Gård in Sweden was something they were able to take comfortably in their stride.
Curley grew up on California’s Monterey Peninsula and many of his designs are influenced by courses such as Spyglass Hill, Pebble Beach and Cypress Point. The Schmidt-Curley partnership is much in demand these days and they have collaborated in recent years with up and coming golfer-turned-architects like Nick Faldo, Fred Couples and Ernie Els.
The North course (formerly known as the Axa) at Vidbynäs opened for play in 2004, followed shortly after by the South layout. The North plays to a par of 72 over its championship length of 7,240 yards and it’s routed in and out and back fashion as opposed to the newer South, which is laid out in two returning 9-hole circuits.
Course architect, Brian Curley, provided us with the following exclusive article:
I first set foot on the property and was amazed at the potential. The combination of open fields, thick forest and wonderful rock outcroppings was spectacular and the plans to do two core golf courses with limited or no residential input was the icing on the cake.
I spent a tremendous amount of time on site trying to "find" holes in lieu of creating holes with extensive work. It was quite difficult at times to make connections because there were frequent areas of solid rock; beautiful but not golf friendly. So, great care was taken to look at numerous routing options that got the most of the property with a minimum of work.
In addition, Swedes are walkers so the green to tee connections needed to be as easy as possible. This was not an issue in the open fields but the areas of rock outcroppings posed problems yet some of these walks are quite beautiful and add to the experience.
Although the forested holes may be the most scenic, the open fields were much better suited to golf and the holes were easy to create. Existing streams provide both strategy and a constant water source almost year round, especially after a snow melt when unfathomable amounts of water come in quite a short period of time.
Construction occurred over about a two year period and the I remember making visits during the winter months when, despite frigid temperatures, much of the work is completed as the ground is frozen and many of the issues associated with soft, muddy conditions do not exist.
It was during these visits that the true, raw beauty of the property in its snow-covered conditions shines best. This is a special golf experience in a truly special place and I am very privileged to have been able to be a part of such a fine project with such wonderful people.
September 12, 2011