- Top 25 Golf Courses of Iceland 2022
Top 25 Golf Courses of Iceland 2022
Top 25 Golf Courses of Iceland 2022
Welcome to the first of our chart updates in 2022. We begin a new round of re-rankings with Iceland, where we’ve added ten new courses to create a Top 25. It’s a golf-mad nation that has more than sixty courses spread out around the island with the number of registered golfers comprising around 6% of the population, the highest in all of Europe. The golf season isn’t that long – five months from May to September normally – but during the summer months it’s possible to play 24 hours a day as the sun never sets in this part of northern Europe at that time of year.
We’ve drastically overhauled our procedures across the whole Nordic region so fully expect to see plenty of chart movement in the weeks to come for Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden. The data capture net has been cast wider and deeper this time around and the new groups of panellists in each of these countries have alerted us to quite a few courses that we’ll be exposing for the first time. We start with the volcanic island that lies just outside the Arctic Circle in the north Atlantic, where organised golf has been played since the early 1930s…
Only three courses stay in the same position in our revised listings for Iceland and one of them is the Hvaleyrarvöllur course at Golfklúbburinn Keilir, just outside the capital city of Reykjavik, which remains the #1 golfing layout in the country. The first nine holes were constructed on farmland next to the sea and these opened for play in the mid-1960s. It took another thirty years before an 18-hole course became operational, once another nine holes had been laid out over adjacent lava fields.
Regular contributor Peter Wood said this last year: “the back nine is routed over a small peninsula abutting Hafnarfjordur harbour while the front nine traverses a field of black lava. I particularly liked the opening nine with its ocean views and ‘linksy’ feel – you can see players and flags on other holes, but not the playing surfaces – much like a links course. The strategic nature of the course demands good course management. It is a thinking golfer’s course… however, one certainly does not want to hit it into the lava!”
The layout at Brautarholt Golf Course entered our Icelandic listings in 2018, debuting at #9. It rose to #4 in our last chart revision and it continues this upward trajectory now, climbing another two spots to the runner-up position in our national standings. Starting out a decade ago as a 9-hole track, it’s had another three holes added to fashion a 12-hole course. Don’t expect this expansion trend to continue though, as architect Edwin Roald is well known for questioning the logic behind many smaller clubs craving the notion of operating an 18-hole course when they don’t have enough land to justify such a venture.
"When you have limited resources, you are forced to use what nature has given you," Roald was quoted as saying a few years ago. "If only you could break away from the constraints of having someone else tell you how many holes you must build. It is the same as writing books or making movies. Imagine if all books had to be exactly 200 pages, or a film had to last 95 minutes. Would they be as good?" We agree with him 100% – maybe one day we’ll even get round to creating a ranking list of courses around the world that contain fewer than eighteen holes…
Three courses make impressive 3-place upward moves within the new Top 10.
The first of these is the Urrida course at Golfklúbburinn Oddur(now at #3) where England narrowly defeated Spain 4-3 in the final matches of the European Ladies’ Team Championship when it was staged here in 2016. Opened as a 9-hole track in 1990, the course had eighteen holes in use by 1997, with holes routed around lava fields from the dormant volcano Búrfell. The club hosts another EGA tournament in July and this time it’s the European Girls’ team Championship that will take centre stage.
Until now, the Grafarholt course at Golfklúbbur Reykjavíkur has been regarded as the better of the club’s two 18-hole layouts. Well, that’s no longer the case as the Grafarholt drops three places to #5, with the Korpa overtaking it as it slips one ahead, into the #4 slot. The older Grafholt course dates back to the early 1960s, with the young upstart Korpa unveiled thirty years later in the mid-1990s. Designed by Hannes Thorsteinsson, the twenty-seven Korpa holes are laid out of undulating terrain, with the Sjorinn and Ain nines considered the main 18-hole layout.
The course at Golfklúbburinn Kidjabergwas the highest newcomer in the 2020 edition of the Iceland Top 15 chart and it now moves up from #10 to #7. Established as a 9-holer layout in 1993 then subsequently expanded to eighteen holes 12 years later, Kidjaberg occupies a dramatic landscape next to the meandering White River as it flows towards the Atlantic. Described by a recent reviewer as being “routed through some impressive terrain with extensive river frontage,” the course is “not overly long but challenging [with] green complexes and bunkering [that] are relatively simple but nicely maintained.”
There are ten new entries in our extended Icelandic standings and two of them appear ahead of the rest of the pack in the top half of the table.
Golfklúbbur Mosfellsbaer was formed in 2014, following the merger of Bakkakot and Kjolur golf clubs. The Hlidavollur course in Mosfellsbaer (new at #8) was then extended to eighteen holes by Edwin Roald, who set fairways out next to the black sand beach of Faxafloi Bay. Conveniently located less than a half-hour drive from Reykjavik, the course plays down and alongside the ocean, with majestic Mount Esja as a spectacular backdrop.
Golfklúbbur Kópavogs og Garðabæjar in Reykjavik is one of Iceland's largest golf clubs, comprising an 18-hole layout called Leirsdalvöllur (new at #9) plus a 9-hole par three layout named Mýrin. The club recently invested in a state-of-the-art indoor facility – consisting of a putting green, chipping area and sixteen Track Man golf simulators – on the ground floor of the clubhouse which allows members to fine tune their game throughout the cold, dark winter months. When spring arrives, players are then raring to tackle the 6,000-metre par 71 Leirsdalvöllur layout and put into practice what they’ve been doing artificially in the preceding months.