RTJ II opens Denmark's first integrated resort


RTJ II opens Denmark's first integrated resort
Sean Dudley
By Sean Dudley

Lübker Golf Resort, the first integrated golf and housing development in Denmark, held its official opening in late September.

Lübker, which is centred on a 27-hole golf course designed by American firm Robert Trent Jones II (RTJ II), is located around 30 km north of Aarhus, Denmark's second largest city.

The project also includes a nine hole academy course, large practice facility, spa and over 400 houses. A hotel will follow in the near future, as will a full scale golf academy.

The resort is publicly quoted on the Danish Stock Exchange. Developer Poul Anker Lübker said that the strength of the project – and its uniqueness in Denmark – made the real estate easier to sell. Over 90 per cent of the available houses and plots were sold from plan, before the project even broke ground.

RTJ II president and chief design officer Bruce Charlton was the lead architect for the Lübker project. Charlton told GCA that the intrinsic qualities of the land made for a strong golf experience. "The property itself has tremendous variety and character, complete with woodland areas, existing lakes and streams, and wonderfully folding and rolling topography with the added benefit of sandy soils. When I first visited the site, I noticed some pine trees planted in beautiful sand. I asked Poul Anker where they had brought the sand in from, and he told me the property itself sat on 65 metres of sand. Then I got really excited."

Charlton's golf course is divided into three nines, Sand, Sky and Forest, with the first two regarded as the resort's premier eighteen. It runs to a total of 6,476 metres (7,082 yards) from the back tees, including a couple of monster par fives. The ninth on the Sky course, for example, stretches back to 578 metres (632 yards), and demands a strong drive if the second shot is to carry a wide protected wetland. The Sand nine is especially demanding, with the 579 metre (633 yard) fifth followed by a very tough 179 metre (196 yard) par three and the seventh hole, at 455 metres (498 yards) perhaps the most difficult hole on the course. "This is our Amen Corner," said Charlton. "Only at Augusta, players have a chance to make a birdie or two – there won't be many here!"

The longest hole on the property is actually on the shortest nine, with the Forest course's opener turning in at an eye-watering 585 metres (640 yards). Elsewhere, though, Lübker features a number of short par four holes and some attractive short par threes, with the picturesque seventh on the Sky nine perhaps taking the honours. Surrounded by pine trees and sandy wastes, the 30 metre long green may seem generous for a hole that will generally only demand a wedge, but with a steep front to back pitch and some tricky internal contours a two will prove elusive. Developer Lübker put up a prize of a million Danish krone for a hole in one during the resort's opening tournament, but it was not won.

At the opening, Charlton told GCA that working with the notoriously stringent Danish planning and environmental agencies had not been too difficult. "The environmental people were extremely clear about what we could and couldn't do," he said. "That's much easier for us than people who say we might be able to do something, but don't give us a definite decision."

This article first appeared in issue 14 of Golf Course Architecture, published in October 2008.