Unfinished Icelandic course for sale

Unfinished Icelandic course for sale
By Adam Lawrence

An eighteen hole golf course in Iceland that has been in development for around a decade has been put up for sale by its owners, the local municipality.

The Borg course, in the Grimnes region, has been designed by Icelandic architect Edwin Roald, and is missing two complete holes, plus three other greens. The property covers 59 hectares, and is next to the highway linking Reykjavik to the Geysir hot spring and Gullfoss waterfall, the country‘s most popular tourist destinations.

The original plan for Borg included a total of 17 cottages in two isolated clusters, to be operated partially as an apartment hotel, managed from the clubhouse. In 2008, the developer lost its land in foreclosure, starting a period of three years where the site saw little or no activity. The half-built course was vulnerable to wind erosion, causing significant inconvenience to the local population and businesses.

Minimising erosion was pivotal in the municipality‘s decision to buy the property and take the project nearer to completion. “It was never the council‘s intention to operate a golf course. Having achieved this goal, the council now seeks offers from interested buyers,“ said Gunnar Thorgeirsson, chairman of the municipality of Grimsnes & Grafningur.

The municipality is not revealing an asking price. However, the designer says that, to date, project costs amount to around US$2 million. He emphasises that a developer who wants to come into the project will of course need to invest beyond the actual purchase to get the ball rolling. “This cost depends on the developer‘s vision. I would estimate that to open eighteen good golf holes and start trading, although from the temporary clubhouse, a further investment of another two million US dollars may be desirable,“ said Roald.

Iceland is one of the world‘s most vibrant golfing nations: more than ten per cent of the population plays the game. Contrary to popular belief, golf in Iceland owes much of its popularity to the country‘s sustainable global position. Summer daylight is abundant, giving the working men and women a choice of all seven days in the week to play as well as setting the stage for an unforgettable midnight golf experience. The southern region in particular offers a suitable climate for sustainable golf management.

Roald, who is also a Golf Environment Organization sustainability assessor, intends the course's bunkers to feature local red volcanic pumice as a substitute for the more conventional light coloured sand. The coarse, firm material is expected to challenge better players around the greens while proving easier for most other golfers to escape from, contributing to faster play. This choice of material is an integral part of the project‘s sustainability programme, where carbon emissions are reduced by reducing the hauling distance for construction materials. Sand for the construction of greens and tees has been extracted from the site itself.

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