|Ljunghusen is located on the Falsterbro Peninsula, southwest of Malmo. (Tim McDonald/WorldGolf.com)|
HOLLVIKEN, Sweden - The Ljunghusen Golf Club sits exposed out on a little spit of land jutting into the Baltic Sea, on the Falsterbo Peninsula.
The golf course is nearly hidden in a quaint little fishing village, past a quiet, shady neighborhood. It's easy to miss; don't count on giant billboards advertising golf here.
The road that takes you through the heavily-wooded neighborhood suddenly opens up to a Swedish panorama - open fields with the nearby sea and Denmark visible beyond.
A huge jackrabbit crosses the road with some kind of breakfast dangling from its mouth - and beyond this morning spectacle is the clubhouse, small and modern with an excellent restaurant.
Some people describe Ljunghusen as a true links course, while others say Falsterbo, its neighbor to the west, is the only true links golf course in Sweden.
If Ljunghusen isn't a true links course, it certainly looks the part: built on a foundation of sand, it is flat, virtually tree-less, open to the elements off the nearby sea and with an abundance of heather. Parts of the course look straight out of Ireland. The flatness of the terrain makes for some great views, from nearly any point of reference.
Your main obstacles here are the wind and the heather - in fact, Ljunghusen means "heather house." And by the way, how did such a nasty plant get such a fair name?
But Ljunghusen also has what Europeans describe as a "moorland" flavor.
It's a very peaceful scene, with the course enclosed within a nature preserve and bordering an area of protected marshland. Several of the holes are close to the beaches of the Baltic coast.
The Douglas Brasier design has made Golf Digest's top-100 list in Europe and is regularly ranked among Sweden's top 5. Ljunghusen has hosted some big tournaments, like the European Men's Team Championship.
It is also generally judged to be one of Sweden's more difficult courses.
And indeed, there aren't many things in golf more difficult than playing a ball out of heather, assuming you can find it in the first place. Forget the heroic shot, just blast it back to the fairway.
Using a driver off the tee isn't always the smart play here, with the asymmetrical fairways, and especially since none of the 18-hole configurations is particularly long.
The wind that can come blasting off the open water can make a three- or even four-club difference on the more exposed portions of the course.
"This is nothing," said Fredrik Aasen, as a consistent 10-15-mile-and-hour breeze blew off the Baltic. "I've played here before when you can barely stand up straight. Then it becomes very difficult."
The layout has its share of bunkers, 80 in all, and most of the 12 water hazards come into play toward the end of the round.
About 20 miles southwest of Malmo, Sweden's third-largest city, the club was founded in 1932, making it one of the country's older courses. In 1965 it became the first to offer 27 holes.
Swedes say it can be played year-round since it is located within the country's mild coastal climate, but the hardy Swedes will play in weather you and I might consider fireplace weather.
April through November is the best time to play here, with July and August being the warmest.
Ljunghusen is well conditioned as long as you don't expect U.S.-type conditions, which can sometimes border on anal. The fairways are in good shape and the greens have moderate slope and undulation, with some multi-level greens.
The Swedes take their environmental concerns seriously: witness the section of the 13th fairway roped off while a single bird nests.
The Radisson is a good place for an extended golf trip in Skane. It's located in the heart of Malmo's business and shopping district; Malmo is Sweden's third-largest city, with fine old architecture and a hopping nightlife - not as hopping as Copenhagen 30 minutes away, across the bridge, but hopping nonetheless.
The hotel has direct access to the Caroli shopping center from its lobby and 229 rooms, all with high-speed Internet access.
The Radisson has a sauna and guests can order massages. The restaurant, Thott Brasseries and Bar, has excellent grub, both Swedish and international. It's a popular spot for businessmen: the hotel has 25 meeting rooms that can hold 300 people.
SAS Scandinavian Airlines is the biggest airline in Scandinavia, specializing in non-stop travel from North America and Asia to Stockholm and Copenhagen. The airline serves Copenhagen non-stop from Newark, Chicago, Seattle and Washington, D.C., and Stockholm non-strop from Chicago and Newark, with Airbus A330 and A340 aircraft.
SAS and its partners offer connecting service to cities throughout Scandinavia, Europe and the world from the SAS hubs at Copenhagen and Stockholm. For more information, see www.flysas.com or call (800) 221-2350 or + 1 201 896-3600.
July 2, 2008
Veteran golf writer Tim McDonald keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.
Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management.
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