Vasatorp Golfklubb, one of the few venues in Scandinavia with a long tradition of hosting championship events, looks to open a new chapter with the unveiling on 6th June of its new tournament course, the latest design from Arthur Hills/Steve Forrest and Associates.
The new 18 at Vasatorp were designed by Hills/Forrest specifically to court European PGA Tour events and, in a perfect world, the Ryder Cup Matches when they come to Sweden in 2018. The club now boasts 54 holes.
The original layout, completed in 1974, played host to the European PGA Tour’s Scandinavian Enterprise Open (what became the Scandinavian Masters) from 1978 to 1980, when Sweden was just emerging as a European golf hotbed.
Having produced champions such as Seve Ballesteros, Greg Norman and Sandy Lyle, the Scandinavian Enterprise Open and Vasatorp are generally credited with establishing golf in Sweden as a spectator sport.
The tournament’s success was also a key component in launching the country’s spectacularly successful player development movement. Gabriel Hjertstedt, the first Swede to win on the U.S. PGA Tour, is a product of Vasatorp’s own junior program. Indeed, a product of the national program, Annika Sorenstam, bested another, Sophie Gustafson, when the European Ladies Tour revisited Vasatorp for the Compaq Open in 2002.
With its new tournament course, Vasatorp looks to burnish its already lustrous place at the center of Swedish golf. It was no accident the club chose for its grand opening on 6th June – it’s Sweden’s National Day.
“Attracting top-quality professional tournaments, of course, depends not merely on the quality of the golf course, but on financial support, as well,” noted Ove Sellberg, manager of golf at Vasatorp and the first Swede to win on the European Tour.
“There are many fine courses in Sweden – many fine new courses – and several have championship aspirations. However, Hills/Forrest has created for us a golf course difficult enough, strategic enough and beautiful enough to keep Vasatorp in these championship conversations for many years to come, and, most important, they have created a golf course that members and guests will enjoy playing day in and day out.”
Under the direction of Hills/Forrest partner and principal Steve Forrest, ground was broken at Vasatorp in mid-December 2005. Forrest completely reimagined nine existing holes and created nine entirely new ones to form the new 18.
“This project was indeed part renovation, part new design. But our remaking of the existing nine holes is so extensive, it’s more accurate to call it a brand new 18-hole course,” says Forrest, immediate past president of the American Society of Golf Course Architects.
“As one gathers from Vasatorp’s history, the club has maintained an interest in improving the facility, expanding it and attracting prestigious tournaments. The course we‘ve designed here does all three things.”
Two of the most interesting holes include the short par-4 8th and the ‘beastly’ par-4 13th.
“The two-level green on 8 is neatly positioned at the end of a tranquil lake that lines the entire left side of the fairway, in a lovely wooded setting,” the architect muses. “The bold player can aim for the putting surface and try to avoid the water and a couple gaping bunkers. Others will lay back, but have a much longer approach shot to the undulating putting surface.
“On 13, the water hazard is on the right side of a fairway that meanders across an open linkscape. It’s a long par-4 but it plays like a short, double dogleg par-5 – with a second water hazard protecting the left side of the green complex. A towering, bunker-riddled mound right of the green and the prevailing wind makes a tough hole even tougher.
“These holes will be gallery favorites, I’m sure. I like them because they typify all the holes at Vasatorp: there are countless ways to play the holes well, and countless ways to play them poorly.”
Vasatorp now boasts 54 holes of golf, presenting four distinct golf experiences to members and guests: the club’s classic British parkland 18, a full length 9-hole course with a moor character, a newly opened 9-hole short course (designed by Sellberg), and the new tournament course from Hills/Forrest.