With construction underway at Vasatorp Golfklubb, the course architects at Arthur Hills/Steve Forrest and Associates have projects at various stages of planning and construction in Sweden and four other European countries.
Hills/Forrest is responsible for the new Hills Golf Club, unveiled last year near Gothenburg, already hailed as continental Europe’s top new course and a potential Ryder Cup venue. With another hotly anticipated project, Sand Golf Club, nearing completion in Jonkoping, Hills/Forrest was the natural choice to upgrade Vasatorp, one of Sweden’s first true championship venues.
Vasatorp Golfklubb, whose original 18 was completed in 1974, played host to the European PGA Tour’s Scandinavian Enterprise Open (which became the Scandinavian Masters) from 1978 to 1981, when Sweden was just emerging as a hotbed of European golf.
The tournament’s success was 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.
Vasatorp, which now boasts 45 holes of golf, will soon present four distinctly different golf experiences to its members and their guests. Currently, the club boasts a classic parkland 18, a newly opened 9-hole short course (designed by Ove Sellberg, the first Swede to win on the European PGA Tour), and a testing, full-length 9-hole loop.
With an eye toward attracting future tournament play (and to offer members a longer, more challenging test), the club has retained Arthur Hills/Steve Forrest and Associates to remake the full-length 9-hole loop and add nine more to create what is essentially a brand new, championship 18 in Helsingborg.
Ground was broken in mid-December 2005. A grand opening has been scheduled for spring 2008.
“This project is 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 Steve Forrest, partner and principal at Hills/Forrest. “As one gathers from Vasatorp’s history, the club has maintained an interest in improving the facility, expanding it and attracting prestigious tournaments. The 18 holes we‘ve designed here will do all three things.”
Arthur Hills/Steve Forrest and Associates has projects at various stages of planning and construction in Sweden, Portugal, Slovakia, Hungary, Spain and Italy. Under the direction of Olivier Daelemans, the firm recently opened a European headquarters in Brussels.
“Hills/Forrest has 40 years experience designing golf courses in every climate and market imaginable, and nobody else has that in Europe,” says Daelemans, the firm’s Belgian-born director, European and Middle East Operations. “The firm has also shown itself willing and able to adapt to different cultures and I think that’s a big advantage. Hills/Forrest is unique among American design companies, I think, because they haven‘t remained solely focused on the U.S. market. We have established local offices here in Europe, assembled a large team that can react quickly. With all this in place, I think we are beginning to see the results of this experience – in Sweden with projects like Vasatorp, Hills GC and Sand, but also across Europe and the Middle East.”
Arthur Hills/Steve Forrest and Associates www.arthurhills.com