American architect Forrest Richardson has begun work on a new golf course project in Sweden. The course – uniquely, as far as GCA is aware – will feature three consecutive par threes.
Close to the Swedish city of Malmo, in the quiet and historic university town of Lund, Richardson has been routing what will become a new breed of golf course for Sweden. While much of the newer golf development in Sweden has gone far toward the limits of high end, expensive and semi-private, the S:t Hans Golf Club will embrace local players through annual memberships, yet will remain solidly a fixture for the public at large. The vision for S:t Hans has also been to break the mould in Sweden for affordable golf. “Until now many of the public play courses in Sweden are quite content to be rather mundane layouts with little creativity,” said Richardson.
The S:t Hans project is being developed by Håkan and Monika Rasmusson, seasoned golf course operators who currently serve the public via their nine hole Varpinge Golf Course, also in Lund. “Our aim for S:t Hans is to use the land in an economical and ecological sustainable manner so we can hand it over to the next generation of Rasmussons,” said Håkan.
The site is a rectangular farm with a series of wetlands. Six old gravel pits remain as sunken ponds and a Bronze Era burial mound protrudes above the landscape. “At first they were puzzle pieces that didn’t seem to fit,” said Richardson. “But we soon realised their charm is all about the farming legacy that has carried on for hundreds of years.”
Currently Richardson is completing development of the routing plan that will form S:t Hans. The plan incorporates the unusual sunken ponds with a series of open ditches that will borrow much of their look and feel from Oakmont. An old barn will be relocated to part of the site and will be used to house fertilizer and equipment for the course. But, in the name of efficiency, Richardson will also use this barn as a feature. “The concept is to celebrate the agricultural aspect of the land,” he explained. “We are incorporating the landscape of the area with the new landscape of golf. My goal is to set the course into the land so it feels as if the golfer has stumbled onto an old course created on an old farm.”
In one area of the land, in order to avoid any grading disturbance of the burial mound, Richardson plans on goats to graze below the pile of rocks. But there’s more. To separate the goats from the golfers he plans on building a ‘goat ladder’ so the goats can get back and forth without potentially escaping to the fairways. “Golf should be entertaining,” he said. “Missing from the layouts of the past 40 years are bits and pieces that help make courses different from one another.”
In addition to meeting the Rasmusson’s requirement for loops and a major practice venue, Richardson has injected some design nuances that are bound to get noticed. Of note among these is the series of holes 15, 16 and 17 — each par threes — where Richardson explains, “We simply looked at routing after routing and the most interesting one has these three one-shot holes instead of a more forced series of holes.” The holes each face a different direction, each play to widely varying yardage, and each have very different hazards. “It may seem odd when you look at the scorecard,” said Richardson. “But I think the golfer will recognise the fun in facing three potential holes-in-one as the round comes to a close. The more time I spend with the routing, the more it feels right to me.”