Golf Course Architecture - Issue 56: April 2019

19 Philip Spogárd of Spogárd & VanderVaart says the Castle course at Ålands Golf Club, which he is currently renovating, could become one of Europe’s best. “To me it will be an iconic project and a top 25 course in Europe when fully completed,” said Spogárd. “I cannot name a single course in Europe which has as much going for it as this one has.” The club, located on Finland’s Ålands islands, has two 18-hole courses – Slottsbanan and Kungsbanan (Castle and Kings), both originally designed by Jan Sederholm – as well as a six-hole Prinsessan (Princess) layout. “The project is a complete redo of the Castle course, where only a majority of the fairways remain intact,” said Spogárd. “It has a wonderful location right on the sea, with majestic old trees, rolling terrain, Viking graves, dramatic rocky outcrops and spectacular views of the neighbouring Kastelholm Castle, which dates back 700 years. “The existing course did not optimise the close relation to the sea, with more or less no holes feeling closely connected with the shoreline. The new layout will push the golf holes right onto the shore, with several holes giving the golfer the chance to bite of as much of the sea as he or she dares.” The club’s project team is led by Joakim Isaksson and head greenkeeper Johan Englund, with Nelson & Vecchio as the contractor. All greens – including the practice area and aprons – are being renovated to USGA standards, and all bunkers will have edging from Durabunker. New tees have been added, and a new Rain Bird irrigation system has been installed. “The design is trying to look authentic so that the course fits into its historic setting. Great attention is put into creating small settlements in the ground, so it looks ‘shaped by nature’. I think it will look like a course that has been there for a century once opened.” Work is expected to be complete in summer 2019, and the course is scheduled to open in May 2020. The new ninth and tenth holes at Ålands will play directly over the coastline Photo: Philip Spogárd Spogárd sees Ålands among Europe’s best