Golf Course Architecture: Issue 57 - July 2019

58 ON S I TE ÖSTERÅKER GOLFKLUBB, SWEDEN Extreme makeover S weden is frequently cited as that rare example of a country where golf was established from the ground up. The sport’s rapid growth in popularity during the 1980s and 90s was built on a foundation of affordable facilities for locals, rather than resort and real estate developments for the wealthy. Green fees are typically around £40 for eighteen holes, and annual membership fees at all but the very top clubs are usually less than £1,000. It’s a model that has seen golf become very well established in the country. Almost five per cent of its 10 million population are registered golfers, according to the latest figures from the KPMG Golf Advisory Practice. In Europe, only Iceland has higher participation (17,000 of its 338,000 population). But as the popularity of golf rises, so does the demand for different types of facilities – including ‘premium’ offerings. The market becomes more complex and some clubs are left grappling with their identity. Österåker Golfklubb is a prime example. Located alongside the main road into the well-heeled commuter town of Åkersberga in the Stockholm archipelago, its two original eighteen- hole courses were designed in the late 1980s by former ice hockey star Sven Tumba. In 2006 it opened another nine holes, accessible to non-members as the pay-and-play Hagby club. At its peak, Österåker attracted almost 2,000 members. It hosted prestigious tournaments including, on three occasions at the turn of the millennium, the Compaq Open on the Ladies European Tour. Toby Ingleton visits a Swedish club in the midst of a radical transformation Photo: Peter Corden