Top 100 Golf Courses updates its Nordic rankings 2016
Iceland, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden ranking charts reviewed
It’s exactly two years since we last revised our rankings for these countries so we’d now like to present the updated chart for each of the five nations, featuring 160 courses in total. This is 25 more than the number of layouts that appeared in our last editions as we’ve now extended our Finland rankings by five to create a new Top 30 and we’ve added ten new courses to both our Denmark and Norway listings.Iceland
Last edition, our Icelandic Top 10 remained exactly the same as it was in 2012. This time, there’s a little movement in the chart, though Keilir is still our national number 1. Boasting a rather unique front nine that’s laid out across ancient lava fields, this course certainly stands out from the crowd in a land that has more than its fair share of peculiar landforms. Architects Mackenzie & Ebert reconstructed new greens for the club last year at holes 10 and 11 and this work obviously went some way towards the course consolidating its number 1 status.
Two other courses make upward moves, with both climbing two places in the new rankings: Vestmannaeyja (number 4) lies off the Icelandic mainland and it’s home to the annual Volcano Open, whilst the 18-hole Korpa course at Reykjavik Golf Club (number 5) is a late 1990s design which now complements the older Grafarholt course at the same club.
We’ve also just conducted our biennial check regarding the proposed Black Sand project with Faldo Design and Gareth Williams, their Architecture and Business Development manager, tells us the much-anticipated development still remains on hold, an unfortunate victim of the Icelandic financial crisis that first unfolded in late 2008.
To view further details of the Icelandic Top 10 click the link.
The Scandinavian (Old) course remains our top track in Denmark and this stellar Robert Trent Jones Jnr course also climbed an impressive five places to number 21 in our recently revised Top 100 of Continental Europe chart. One reviewer described it as “by far the best course in Denmark” whilst another reviewer simply stated: “you don’t get any better than this”.
A couple of courses make positive upward movements within the Top 10. They’re both Rick Baril designs that opened within a year of each other and they are Lyngbygaard (18-hole) near Aarhus (up two to 8) and the Brakor & Elbaek nines at Stensballegaard on the north side of the Horsens Fjord (up three to 10) which debuted in 2008.
Furesø (Farum & Hestkobsgard) makes a significant surge up the listings, rising a healthy ten places to number 17, thanks in no small measure to work carried out last year by Tom Mackenzie, who rebuilt every green surround and bunker as the club celebrated its 40th anniversary.
The ten new entries to our expanded Danish chart are headed by Nick Faldo’s Ledreborg Palace course at number 15 and this is a contemporary layout that was constructed with great sensitivity inside the old ancestral estate of the Hostein-Ledreborg family back in 2007.
The second highest newcomer is HC Anderson – previously known as Gyldensteen – on the island of Funen and it enters at position 19, immediately followed by Hvide Klit, another new entry at number 20, which is the northernmost golf course in the country.
To view further details of the Danish Top 40 click the link.
Kytaja (South East) is still the top course in our newly expanded chart for Finland, a position it’s held since 2008, when we first started ranking courses in this country. It’s part of a 36-hole golf complex designed by the critically acclaimed architect Thomas McBroom, who has a string of highly rated modern tracks to his name back in his native Canada.
There are three bold upward moves at the top end of the chart: the Etelä-Saimaa layout at Viipurin soars nine places to number 3 (having only just entered our listings at number 12 in 2014), the Benz course at Nordcentre (the newer of the two 18-hole layouts at this golf and country club) shoots up six spots to number 5 and the Old course at Tahko (a Jan Sederholm new millennium design) rockets twelve places to number 7.
The first of eight new entries arrives at number 13 and it’s Levi Golf in Lapland, where Mackenzie & Ebert are currently involved in some upgrading work to the course. The company also laid new greens last year on both the Seaside course at Pickala (another newcomer at number 17) and the Classic course at Vierumäki, as well as starting construction of a new 18-hole layout at Vantaa, near Helsinki.
Other prominent new entries within the Finnish Top 20 include the woodland Purinpelto (“Devil’s Field”) course at the 36-hole Lakeside golf complex near Tampere (which debuts at number 15) and the sandy soiled seaside layout at Yyteri (entering at number 16) which lies close to Yyteri Beach on the Baltic Sea, near the city of Pori.
To view further details of the Finnish Top 30 click the link.
Miklagard remains our number 1 course in Norway and this Robert Trent Jones Jnr design – which hosted four editions of the Norwegian Challenge event on the European Challenge Tour, starting in 2011 – has offered the best of players a consistent test for more than a decade now. The course also occupies a place in the lower reaches of our European Top 100 chart so there’s little doubt about the quality of the golf product here.
Holtsmark is another highly regarded RTJII Norwegian layout and it rises a very respectable seven places to number 4 in our revised national chart. The course is famed for its intimidating closing hole, which was described by one reviewer as “one of the finest closing holes I know… all you see is fairway and greenside bunkers cleverly lined up so you get this daunting optical illusion.”
Also moving in the right direction, we have the tree-lined track at Stavanger climbing one spot to number 3 and this 1950s design – one of Norway’s oldest courses – only seems to improve with each passing year, as an ever-increasing number of golfers appreciate the challenge presented by a fine array of gently undulating fairways and small, subtly-contoured greens.
Atlungstad also climbs a commendable three places to number 5, reversing the fall of two places it made in the 2014 listings. The course enjoys a gorgeous setting next to Lake Mjøsa, Norway’s biggest inland waterway, so golfers who might be suffering a modicum of pain due to the penal Dave Thomas bunkering on the course can always seek some solace from their wonderful surroundings.
The first two of ten new entries into our newly extended Norwegian Top 30 are worth mentioning: Sola (Championship) (new at number 16) operates within a modern National Training Centre for the Norwegian Golf Federation and Lofoten Links (new at number 20) was just enlarged to a full 18-hole layout by Jeremy Turner last year so watch out for this one when we re-rank the country again in 2018.
To view further details of the Norwegian Top 30 click the link.
Sweden also retains its number 1 course. Like Denmark and Norway, it’s a Robert Trent Jones Jnr design – the Stadium course at Bro Hof Slott – that heads the national table, a status it’s enjoyed since 2010. The Nordea Masters was held here from 2010 to 2013, before the event moved to the PGA of Sweden National, but the course is set to resume its position as host venue this year.
Two courses make noteworthy positive moves near the top end of the rankings. The first of these is the old layout at Falsterbo (up 2 to number 2) which was recently described by a reviewer as “one of the best links courses outside UK&I”. The second track is the North course at Halmstad (up 2 to number 3) where the European ladies team lost the Solheim Cup to the USA when the event was played here in 2007.
Another course to make its mark is Ullna. The layout closed five years ago when it underwent an extensive renovation by Nicklaus Design, with new tees, bunkers and greens installed throughout the course, but it has now shot back up the national rankings, rocketing ten positions to number 5. It was also the highest new entry at number 44 when we updated our European Top 100 chart a month ago so Ullna’s definitely back with a bang.
Three other courses are worthy of mention because they make moderate moves up the Swedish chart: Martin Hawtree’s 2009 design at Vallda (up two to 12), Arthur Hills and Steve Forrest’s Hills course (up two to 15) and the Ostra course at Kristianstad (up three to 17) which was expanded to a full 18-hole layout back in 1969.
There are six new entries, the highest of which is Bastad (Old) at number 29, where Fred Hawtree and JH Taylor designed the course in the 1930s so it’s now reckoned to be the second oldest 18-hole layout in the country.
To view further details of the Swedish Top 50 click the link.
We always welcome comments when we publish updated national rankings so feel free to let us know what you think of our five revised national charts. Have we left out a layout that really should be listed or do we feature a course that doesn’t deserve to be included? Please click the “Respond to this article” link at the top or at the bottom of the page if you’d like to let us know your opinion.
27 January 2016 Respond to this article