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Sweden – where variety is the spice of golfing life!

29 July, 2016

Sweden – where variety is the spice of golfing life!

We take a look at some of the best courses around the city of Malmö

Swedish courses feature prominently in our European Top 100, with a dozen listed in the current version of that particular continental ranking chart. Jan Nordstrom, our Nordic correspondent, was keen to show us what golf was like in the south of the country, so last month three of our UK-based team joined him for a week’s golfing excursion around the city of Malmö, sampling some of the better courses in that area.

Ljunghusen was where the Top 100 Team started the nine course tour and it was the perfect place to begin a visit to the Skåne region as it lies only half an hour’s drive south of the Öresund Bridge, which we drove across from Denmark, having flown into Copenhagen airport from the UK. There are twenty-seven seaside holes in play here, the original (19-27) course dating back to the 1930s, and the newer (1-18) course that attracts most visitors.

Of course, we tackled all twenty-seven holes at Ljunghusen, acclimatising to local conditions on the unique maritime heath of the Falsterbo Peninsula as this would set us up nicely for a full 36-hole links experience the following day – but before we departed, we caught sight of the first bathers we’d ever seen on a golf course; a couple of elderly ladies in white full-length dressing robes who’d just been for a dip in the sea and were crossing the course to head home on their bicycles!

The course at Falsterbo dates back more than a century, occupying a very special geographical location right at the southwestern tip of Sweden, where the Öresund Strait meets the Baltic Sea. Such are the vast numbers of twitchers who come to spot migrating birds every September, the golf club has to employ marshals to steer them safely across the fairways to the best vantage points on the coastline .

Close neighbour Flommen was next up the same afternoon, where Georg Kittel, long time member and club historian, very kindly spared the time to accompany our 4-ball during our round, pointing out various little features around the course that we might otherwise have missed without his helpful little insights. More a seaside layout than a true links, Flommen was nonetheless a delightful course to experience .

Following the coastal exploits of the first two days, it was time to move inland, to the east of Malmö at the stunning new 45-hole PGA of Sweden National golf complex. The 18-hole Lakes course was shut for renovation work so we tackled the Links course instead. You’re almost guaranteed to play a top track if it’s been designed by Kyle Phillips and this layout was no exception. It’s been constructed to a very high spec, using fescue grasses throughout to enhance its “inland links” credentials.

There’s no doubt professional tournaments will come the way of both PGA layouts in years to come but a course that’s already come under the international spotlight in 2003 is the Masters course at Barsebäck Golf & Country Club, which is situated around 30 kilometres to the north of Malmö. It’s here that Catrin Nilsmark captained Europe to a Solheim Cup victory against the USA in 2003 and the course is rather uniquely laid out across three contrasting parkland/seaside/woodland landforms.

Next day, we drove 120 kilometres north into the province of Halland to visit another Solheim Cup venue at Halmstad, where the club hosted the biennial series of matches in 2007, with Europe losing by four points in a keenly fought contest. Like the Barsebäck resort, there’s two 18-hole courses in play at Tylösand, as the locals call it, and we played the impressive Norra (North) course at this outstanding golf club.

An hour’s drive south, on the other side of Laholm Bay, another 36-hole facility was next up on the golfing agenda at Båstad Golfklubb, whose original 18-hole Gamla course was constructed by Fred Hawtree and J.H. Taylor back in the early 1930s. Martin Hawtree, Fred’s grandson, recently built a couple of new holes on this course and it was interesting to compare the new against the old on this heavily contoured layout.

And so to the final day of the Top 100 whistle stop visit to the south of Sweden, starting at yet another multi-course venue just outside Helsingborg, the TC course at Vasatorp. One of three 18-hole layouts at a very modern facility, the TC was awarded “Best course in Sweden” last year by the “World Golf Awards”. Industry insiders realise how misleading those titles can be and so it proved here, though the course did have its moments with a number of very good holes interspersing the not so good.

In the afternoon, we reached the climax of the trip and a game at the old 9-hole Viken layout at Helsingborgs Golfklubb, where golf – mainly of the hickory variety – has been played since 1924. It was a real pleasure to meet up with a very good friend, respected journalist Johan Lindeberg, who showed us around the old wooden clubhouse and told us a bit about the club’s history before joining us out on the links.

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After several days of playing a variety of championship courses, it was an absolute joy to get back to basics on the banks of the Öresund in the company of a man who truly embodies the spirit of golf in that part of the world.

The south of Sweden is probably not high on the hit list of many golfers seeking to play abroad – especially with established Mediterranean destinations like the Algarve, the Balearic Islands and the Spanish Costas offering year-round sunny skies – but for those seeking good quality, affordable golf that might be regarded as a little off-piste then you’ll not find many places better than here.

Jim McCann
Top 100 Golf Courses


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