Värpinge Golfbana work underway

Värpinge Golfbana work underway
Sean Dudley
By Adam Lawrence

Construction is under way on a unique beginners course at the Värpinge Golfbana in the town of Lund, southern Sweden.

The course, which has six holes varying in length from 35-90 metres and sits on a 5.5 hectare site, is completely reversible, so it can provide twelve different holes. Swedish architect Johan Benestam has done the design work.

Club owner Hakan Rasmusson told GCA: “My idea was to make golf truly accessible. I needed something to show the 90 per cent of society that don't play golf. We wanted something that was very inclusive, and specifically for kids. They have football pitches, basketball courts and so on supplied by society. But golf is not that way: most of our courses are funded by existing golfers. That creates a threshold. Golf is quite far away from those who are not part of that network.”

“Most of the interest in our project has come from the non-golfing part of society,” Rasmusson added. “I want something that is unpretentious, low key and natural.”

The owner said the course used the Ladies Putting Course, or Himalayas, at St Andrews, as an example for the kids course. “I had a Polish guy driving a digger, and showed him a photo of the Ladies Putting Course,” he said. “I wanted a small practice area, so we built something along those lines.”

The new course, built last summer and currently in the middle of a ‘grow in’, will open officially on 17 August. The new course will be free for youngsters to play, and Rasmusson has built up a large collection of clubs that learners will be able to use, again free of charge. “We believe it needs to be free,” he said. “So I approached the city council, and they have allowed us to use the land for free; I went to Rain Bird, asked them if they wanted to sponsor it they said ‘It’s genius, we'll sponsor your irrigation if you allow us to use you as a case study.’ Weibulls, the seed company, took the same view, and gave us seed.”

“Golf should be accessible for everyone, without exception,” Rasmusson said. “Just as any other society funded sports like football. To truly become inclusive it has to be free and geographically accessible. In 20 years, I'd like to see the kids who have grown up in this area think of golf in the same way they do football or hockey. We're building the course ourselves, but to a high standard, with sand-based greens. I would much rather pay out money for the design and architecture - though Johan has done the work pro bono - than for fancy construction work.”