Scandinavia’s largest golf resort, Ekerum, located on the island of Öland, has begun construction work on a renovation of its Långe Jan course. Gothenburg-based golf architect Christian Lundin of the international design practice (re)GOLF is directing the works.
Ekerum has two eighteen hole courses, Långe Jan, conceived as a heathland style design, and Långe Erik, which is more parkland. Lundin’s project aims to enhance the heathland characteristics of Långe Jan, while making the course fit better in the natural environment of Öland. “The island is characterised by limestone barrens, and we aim to give the course that sort of flavour too,” the architect explained. “The idea is to promote the importance of the island’s unique ecosystem, for the course to be a tribute to Öland if you like, featuring sparse vegetation, heather and sandy wastes.”
The first phase of work began in June, and will be finished in October. It incorporates a new teeing system for the course, allowing for the creating of a shorter set of tees for beginners, juniors and older golfers. Eleven holes will have new tee pads, while the first and seventeenth will have entirely new tee complexes. “This is Scandinavia’s most popular golf resort, and it’s vital to work on playability for golfers who can’t hit the ball long distances,” said Lundin. “We’ve been very impressed by the success of the Tee it Forward campaign in the US, and we’d like to bring a similar mindset to Sweden. For a big proportion of golfers, playing shorter courses will make for more fun and quicker rounds. That’s a great message for golf’s development. Still we also keep the option for larger tournaments in the future with a back tee potentially stretching up to 7000m.”
The other major change in this phase is the rerouting of the sixteenth and seventeenth holes. The sixteenth will be a brand new par three, ranging from 110 metres from the front to 180 metres from the back tees. “The green is raised, with runoffs at the side to create the feel of the great greens built on heathland courses by architects like Harry Colt,” said Lundin. “There are bunkers on the right side, while on the left we found an old bridge made from Öland stone. It’s a great feature, so we left it in place, though I guess I might regret that decision when I hit a tee shot into it!” The new-look seventeenth is a strong par four, with a bunkerless green complex that is defined by a small hump in front of the green.
Part of the rationale for the changes to the two holes is to enable the resort to build some new residential units. In total, 300 homes, ranging from townhouses to large villas, will be built across the site, potentially making a huge difference to the financial prospects of the resort. The new look course is expected to open in spring 2014.