Edwin Roald designs new nine for Selfoss Golf Course

  • Selfoss
    Edwin Roald

    Edwin Roald is adding nine new holes to Selfoss Golf Course in Iceland

  • Selfoss
    Edwin Roald

    Among the new holes to be built along the banks of the Ölfusá River are the reverse Cape seventh, the par-five fifteenth inspired by the Road hole, and the Redan sixteenth

  • Selfoss
    Edwin Roald

    A large sand hazard forms the primary defence to the opening hole at Selfoss Golf Course

Richard Humphreys
By Richard Humphreys

Edwin Roald is adding nine new holes to Selfoss Golf Course in Iceland.

Roald has been consulting architect for the nine-hole layout since 2018, and has already replaced three holes, required due to the realignment of Route 1 – a ring road that circles Iceland.

The current project is a response to the increasing popularity of the town of Selfoss, less than an hour’s drive from Reykjavik, with locals and tourists. The municipality has provided most of the funding and wants an eighteen-hole layout to satisfy the increased demand.

“It is a very interesting and attractive piece of property along the banks of the Ölfusá River,” Roald told GCA. “The site for the new holes is on the waterfront and one of the main objectives has been to use the additional land so that golfers arrive at the water at least twice in a round. Some new holes will be on the front nine and some will be on the back to create a figure-eight routing.

“We’re designing a course and providing a playing experience that everybody can enjoy. The emphasis is on our largest core customer group – the high handicap players. However, for the better players, there will be plenty of strategic interest in terms of angles, firmness of the ground and pin positions.”

Roald is introducing template concepts to Selfoss. “We have a replica of the Eden hole at St Andrews – our par-three sixth has the Ölfusá behind the green rather than the Eden River,” he said. “We’ve got a reverse Cape at the seventh, the fifteenth is a riverfront par five with a reverse Road Hole green entrance, and the sixteenth is a Redan. We’re playing around a bit and trying to mix an original design that underlines the unique nature of the site and Icelandic golf with template holes and such concepts so golfers can have some fun.”

The architect expects eighteen holes to be completed by 2026, with a 14-hole routing ready by late 2024.

With no specialised golf contractors operating from Iceland, the new holes at Selfoss are being built by a local contractor – although Roald is making use of technology to ensure they are built to a high standard.

“We’re using automated machine guidance (AMG),” said Roald. “We design everything to a high degree of detail and produce 3D models that we send directly into the construction machinery. Those machines can be set on automatic or can be manually controlled. The minutest detail can be achieved; we have contour lines just a few centimetres apart. It’s traditional architecture meeting modern technology!

“It is an absolute gamechanger because AMG allows us to do business with local companies – that’s the social corporate social responsibility element – and it obviously makes all the logistics a lot easier. We’re receiving excess soil from nearby construction, housing and road projects, which contributes to considerable savings in haulage distances and carbon footprint. While much of the site is quite flat, we’re able to add character to the fairway surroundings with this additional soil. I’m seeing around a 27 per cent decrease in the number of machine hours via using AMG.”

Selfoss has also approved a plan to introduce a short course by Roald that will be located near the entrance of the site and is expected to open in 2025. “Considering the recent completion of indoor and outdoor practice facilities, it can be said that Selfoss will have a full range of golf options,” says Roald.

This article first appeared in the April 2023 issue of Golf Course Architecture. For a printed subscription or free digital edition, please visit our subscriptions page.