Admit it: You don’t follow my thinking here. Continental Europe’s best golfing area has to be Costa del Sol in Spain. Or maybe the Algarve in Portugal? So come on, give me a break; the southwest of Sweden. Hah!
Well, let’s first agree upon the rules. By best golfing area I’m not talking average temperature in November or January. Nor are we considering the number of hours the sun is shining in an average year. We’re talking clean, pure golf. As in Golf for the purist. From that perspective, outside the British Isles there is no better area for golf in Europe than this part of Scandinavia.
Before you hang me by the eyelids and force me to blink, I must assure you that I have nothing against Costa del Sol, Algarve or any other golfing destination in Continental Europe. On the contrary! I’m a person that enjoys a glass of wine in a deck chair outdoors all year round. And I strongly agree there are many good golf courses among the 4920 something Continental Europe golf courses that are not in the southwest of Sweden.
What the Swedes say themselves
The Swedes, aka the Visit Sweden tourist board claim the southwestern region to be A land of richness and generosity:
«The country´s southernmost region and one of northern Europe´s richest farming districts, Skåne is generally associated with endless open fields and wide, flat horizons. Though this image is true of some parts of Skåne, particularly in the southeast, the region as a whole presents a much more diverse and varied landscape, from the lush leafy forest and dramatic rocky coasts of the northwest, over the fields and mile-long white beaches of the south, through the gently rolling hills and green groves of the west to the deep forests of the northwest.»
The endless, open fields and the wide, flat horizons with small pockets of forest of pine or beech or oak, the white beaches, the dramatic parts of the west coast is exactly what makes the land so suitable for golf. In this land you’ll find a variety of different type of golf courses. Which varies from true links courses to seaside courses, parkland courses and woodland courses.
All with that laid back low-key factor that is so typical for Scandinavia. If a Swede holes his approach or tee shot, he might brag about it on the clubhouse terrace afterwards. But in a modest way, he’ll actually be slightly embarrassed about all the attention his lucky shot is causing.
80 something golf courses
The Golf Federation of Skåne, the region that most of southwestern Sweden belongs to, has a membership of 69 golf clubs. Some of the clubs have two, or even three, golf courses.
Then add at least one club that is not a member, PGA National, and one club just north of the region’s border, Halmstad (the North Course was the 2007 Solheim Cup venue), and you have in capsuled the best golf you can get in Europe after Britain and Ireland.
All within an area that is about 200 kilometers (125 miles) from north to south and 80 kilometers (50 miles) from east to west. Among them there’ll be two Solheim Cup-venues, Barsebäck was the host in 2003. And numerous courses that have hosted European Tour and Ladies European Tour events, all tucked together in the southwestern tip of Sweden.
5 reasons for this being Continental Europe’s best golfing area
1. Golf is cheap. Scandinavia is very expensive in almost every imaginable meaning of the word. Except when it comes to golf. Green fees above 60 euros are very, very rear. Most clubs will charge you 30 to 40 euros. That will often be for the whole day.
2. Golf is nearby. Skåne is not big. If you stay in the largest city, Malmö, you´ll reach at least 25 courses within half an hour. 15 more courses within 45 minutes and another 15 courses within one hour. If you want to combine two countries on the same tour, there are some good Danish courses less than an hour away.
3. Skåne is accessible. Skåne is just across the straight from Copenhagen International Airport, the busiest in Scandinavia. No matter where you fly from, you can get to Kastrup airport with ease. Then pick up a rental car or go downstairs to the train station, and you’ll be in golf paradise in a jiffy.
4. Skåne is international. With taxes, housing prices and general living costs far lower then in Denmark, a lot of Danes have moved to Skåne and commute every day to Copenhagen. Also numerous ferries are taking you across to Germany and Poland. All this makes Skåne Sweden’s most international region (or landscape as they say there).
5. Skåne has lovely cities. No matter the degree of golf nut, you do want some city life with good food, lively bars and night spots (if you still have stamina after the golf). You get it all in Malmö and Helsingborg, the two biggest cities.
The 10 best golf courses of southwestern Sweden
It’s a tough task to pick just ten courses, leaving 70 something great golf courses out of the equation. But I’m not the first, and will not be the last, golf writer faced with that challenge.
So here I go. This is my list over the ten best golf courses in Continental Europe’s best golfing area. These are the ten courses I would have played if I had ten golfing days there. If you don’t have that much time, just leave some of them out based on where you stay and whether you prefer links, parkland or woodland courses.
- Barsebäck: Seaside golf in a pine forest
- Falsterbo: True links … as true as it gets, listed on The Links Association’s list
- Ljunghusen: True links and traditional seaside with heather lined holes side by side. Is also on the links list
- Halmstad: (just north of Skåne): Woodland golf at it best on sandy soil near the sea
- Vasatorp: Modern parkland American style golf with an European twist
- PGA of Sweden National: The new pride of the region
- Kristianstad: Not too far from the sea … nor from the Absolut distillery
- Bokskogen: The name means «beech forest». That says it all.
- Båstad: Windswept and exposed on the cliff with breathtaking views over the ocean
- Degeberga-Widtsköfle: A hidden, modest gem with a very linksy feel to it
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