Construction work has started on a new par-three hole designed by Johan Benestam at Nacka Golf Club near Stockholm, Sweden.
The club is located in the Velamsund nature reserve within Nacka – a municipality in Stockholm County, just east of the capital. “The fact that we are located in a nature reserve has meant there are restrictions on how the holes could be built, which has affected playability and grass quality,” said course manager Jonas Liljeblad.
In 2003, the club began a renovation to replace some original holes that were built in 1994. “The main reason two par-four holes and one par three were closed was due to the poor quality of both construction and enjoyment of play,” said Benestam. “The two par fours became a practice area and the par three was put in fallow. This work continued with another new par-four hole in 2007, which replaced the existing twelfth.
“The improvement work is being resumed by rebuilding the par-three hole that was put in fallow.”
“The entire golf course is built on a sensitive archipelago landscape. This means that the holes become expensive to build as there are a lot of mountains and large rocks to think about. In addition, there is a thin layer of clay and topsoil, which means that you have to import landfill material that complies with environmental restrictions.
“As an architect, you have to be even more creative than usual to be able to build a good golf hole for a reasonable amount of money. Many good ideas may be thrown in the trash due to the harsh environmental restrictions in the area.
“Not only that, the golf course is also located in two different municipalities,” continued Benestam. “These have different environmental restrictions on how the land may be used. The new par three is unfortunately located in the municipality that has the strictest rules. Construction costs are about three times as expensive as on similar land, therefore it is very important to have good planning and good design.”
With these considerations in mind, Benestam had to create simpler drawings for a guideline.
“In the field, my role is more important than normal as many quick decisions have to be made while excavating the golf holes,” said Benestam. “You never know what you will encounter in this type of terrain, which means that the drawings can quickly become obsolete if dynamite is not to be used. ‘Point to spot’ design, you could call it.
“The biggest challenge with the new hole that it is being rebuilt is precisely mass handling. The green area is located in an area with a large level difference between the left and right side, which was the reason why the hole was removed. If you missed the green on the left, the ball was basically unplayable.”
For construction, the club transported about 5,000 cubic metres of earth. The green area has been widened by approximately 27 metres compared to how it was originally designed, with the new hole being built to measure 131 yards from the yellow tee and 109 from the reds.
“An alternative way to play the hole is to keep to the right and land the ball on the slope and use the slope to steer the ball towards the centre of the green,” said Benestam. “Along the left side of the green there are two bunkers that guard the green, but also catch balls that are on their way down the slope. At the back edge of the green, a soft hill slows the ball down before a steeper run-off takes over, before leading to a flatter surface. The back left will have tall rough with fescue.”
The club is also planning to begin work in the near future to improve the range, as well as building a short course and more new holes.
“We already see that the work we have done with Johan has led to the club’s reputation having increased and I think the work in the coming years will make Nacka Golf Club a really attractive facility,” said Liljeblad.