New golf architecture firm Ilonen Design – a partnership between Finnish pro golfer Mikko Illonen, golf designer and construction specialist Kai Hulkkonen and golf marketer Sami Markkanen – has won contracts for two golf projects in Finland.
The new firm has been appointed to develop a renovation master plan for Kytäjä’s South East course and a new golf course for Tammer-Golf, one of the oldest golf clubs in Finland.
Ilonen, who retired from competitive golf in March 2019, said: “Golf course design has always been something that interests me a lot. As a young boy I used to spend art classes in school drawing golf holes. When playing as a pro on the European Tour, I always looked at the courses we played with thoughts on how I would improve this hole and make it more interesting. Now that Ilonen Design is a reality, I couldn’t be more thrilled.
“We like to approach projects with a 360-degree view. The golf course is always in the core of the customer experience, but in all honesty, the modern consumer wants so much more – something they feel is targeted at them. We like to think that we are pretty good at creating these experiences and can help clients reach their business objectives.”
The 36-hole Kytäjä Golf sees the renovation plan as part of its goal to become an international golf destination, which will include the construction of a new hotel and rental villas.
“Throughout my career, I’ve spent a lot of time practicing and playing at Kytäjä and therefore the Kytäjä project is very close to my heart,” said Ilonen.
“The challenge here is to make a very good golf course even better. I would be disappointed if we didn’t end up with a true must-play, bucket list experience. We have some thoughts on that already and I’m pretty excited.”
The Tammer-Golf course – located near to Tampere city centre – is having to relocate as the city is taking over the club’s existing site for housing development.
“My dream has always been to create a new golf course and the Tammer-Golf project will be my first,” said Ilonen. “It is an exciting project, as the location close to the city centre is so unique. The course will be easily reachable by bikes and public transportation. The club has always done a great job with juniors and has been very accessible. With the new course and practice facilities, the possibilities for boosting junior golf are almost endless. I used to ride my bike to my local golf course as a youngster, so creating opportunities for kids in Tampere to do the same is absolutely great.
“Tammer-Golf with its closeness to the city also offers opportunities to integrate golf with other outdoor and nature activities. Creating an ‘active outdoors and nature haven’ for all citizens is one of the goals of this project.”