How Iceland could reshape the world of golf

3 weeks ago 22

(CNN)Iceland whitethorn look similar an improbable golfing power.

With abbreviated summers and harsh winters, this land successful the North Atlantic Ocean isn't the astir evident determination for manicured fairways and greens.

However, Iceland is experiencing a golfing roar dissimilar astir anyplace other successful the satellite and the golfing civilization present could assistance to reshape the athletics arsenic we cognize it.

    Situated fractional an hour's thrust northbound of the superior metropolis Reykjavik is Brautarholt Golf Course. Laid retired crossed a melodramatic cliff-lined peninsula, Brautarholt is the brainchild of laminitis Gunnar Palsson.

      "This utilized to beryllium cultivation land, but that had been declining," Palsson tells CNN Sport. "This onshore has been successful the household for hundreds of years and determination were immoderate generational shifts and we decided to physique a play course."

      Do courses request 18-holes?

      Opening primitively arsenic a nine-hole people successful 2011 earlier expanding to 12, Brautarholt was designed by renowned Icelandic designer Edwin Roald.

      Roald has attracted plentifulness of attraction successful caller years with his "why 18-holes?" movement, a doctrine that suggests play people plan would beryllium improved if architects worked to make the champion people for the abstraction they have, alternatively than cling onto the "antiquated" conception that each people indispensable beryllium 18-holes long.

      "When you person constricted resources, you are forced to usage what quality has fixed you," Roald told Links mag successful 2017. "If lone you could interruption distant from the constraints of having idiosyncratic other archer you however galore holes you indispensable build.

      "It is the aforesaid arsenic penning books, oregon making movies. Imagine if each books had to beryllium precisely 200 pages, oregon a movie had to past 95 minutes. Would they beryllium arsenic good?"

      Despite comprising of lone 12 holes, Brautarholt has been internationally recognized arsenic 1 of the world's finest courses. In 2020, it was ranked No. 64 successful a database of the World's Top-100 courses by Golfscape, alongside the likes of Pebble Beach and St. Andrews.

      A blueprint?

      With a abbreviated play play successful Iceland and agelong winters, play clubs successful the state are looking to find innovative ways of extending the play and making play accessible to younker players each twelvemonth round.

      The Iceland men's shot squad made headlines astir the satellite for their exploits astatine the European Championships successful 2016, reaching the quarterfinals and qualifying for their first World Cup successful 2018. The women's squad besides qualified for 3 consecutive European championships from 2009 to 2017 having ne'er antecedently qualified for a large tournament.

      Much of the nationalist team's singular occurrence has been attributed to the country's concern successful authorities of the art, indoor facilities and fantabulous coaching, a blueprint that whitethorn extremity up being replicated successful golf.

      The GKG Club successful Reykjavik is 1 of Iceland's largest play clubs, comprised of an 18-hole people positive a nine-hole, par-3 course. With a thriving inferior programme and progressive membership, the nine has precocious invested successful a authorities of the creation $10 cardinal indoor installation to let members to signifier passim the year.

      Situated beneath the clubhouse, the indoor installation consists of a putting green, chipping country and 16 Track Man play simulators, allowing users to play astir 100 courses from astir the world.

      Ulfar Jonsson is GKG's Sporting Director and has seen firsthand the interaction the installation has made. "We spot our younger players are getting technically much precocious and better. So we're seeing amended swings.

      "We promote evidently each our players to play arsenic overmuch arsenic they tin retired connected the people implicit the summertime, but past they tin travel successful present and enactment connected the method during the winter."

      Having had constricted occurrence connected the world's biggest tours, Haukur Orn Birgisson -- the president of the Icelandic Golf Union and the European Golf Association -- believes that the concern successful facilities similar the 1 astatine GKG could pb to results for Icelandic players astatine the highest level.

      "When you deliberation astir it, we person a golfing play that spans for astir five, six months. So having indoor signifier facilities means a batch and with caller technology, these facilities person go truthful advanced. GKG is simply a cleanable illustration of that. So present you person nine members playing play successful wintertime, albeit indoors and successful simulators, but it's important for their development.

      "It's important for the inferior improvement arsenic well. You tin look astatine football, for example. Fifteen years ago, they started having these indoor shot facilities and a fewer years later, our nationalist teams qualified for the European Championship and the World Cup. So determination you go, it's important," helium says.

      The installation astatine GKG has besides provided a invaluable societal constituent to the club. "Now, we person an all-year installation -- before, it was chiefly a summertime athletics ... Now, each the golfers travel successful and they're playing with their friends successful the simulators, enjoying a repast and a portion afterwards. So it's been fantastic for the morale of the club," Jonsson explains.

      A simulator is utilized  astatine  the indoor installation  astatine  GKG.


      As good arsenic being acknowledged arsenic 1 of the finest courses to play, Brautarholt is besides looking to go the astir sustainable play people connected the planet.

      "Here successful Iceland, much oregon little each of our vigor is renewable, truthful we thought it would beryllium a bully thought to determination successful that absorption here," Palsson explains.

      Having embraced hydro and geothermal energy, astir 100% of Iceland's energy comes from renewable sources. Looking to instrumentality vantage of the country's cleanable energy, Palsson has invested successful a fleet of 30 automated electrical mowers.

      "We're astatine a constituent present wherever mowers moving connected energy instrumentality attraction of astir 98% of the play course," Palsson says.

      Managing the fleet of small, orangish mowers is the occupation of people manager and caput greenish keeper Einar Jonasson. "Yes, our small friends. They are conscionable a antithetic mode of reasoning of cutting the grass."

      An electrical  mower utilized  successful  Iceland's Brautarholt play  course.

      With a bid of cables laid retired astir the course, the mowers are programmed to enactment connected the fairways and tin beryllium successful enactment astir the clock. As good arsenic providing an biology benefit, they person besides allowed Jonasson to ore connected different elements of people maintenance.

      In summation to a c footprint that is adjacent to zero, Brautarholt is besides maintained without the usage of chemicals and with Iceland's year-round rainfall, determination is small request for immoderate irrigation.

      "Our play people is successful a spectacular determination and visitors travel present to bask that nature. We don't privation to harm the situation successful the anyhow possible, truthful we don't attraction if you spot immoderate weeds successful the fairway, we don't privation to harm anything," Jonasson explains.

      Having precocious invested successful a authorities of the art, electric, ride-on-mower for tees and greens, Brautarholt is looking to acceptable a new, sustainable modular for play people management.

      "I deliberation we are the greenest play people successful the world," Palsson says with pride.

      One of a kind

      Despite Iceland's colonisation of little than 400,000, the state is location to a singular 65 play courses -- and among them are immoderate of the astir spectacular courses you're apt to find anyplace successful the world.

      "I would promote everyone to travel to play here," says Birgisson.

      "The quality present is 2nd to nary ... When you play play successful Iceland, you get to acquisition that quality arsenic well. You tin play play successful lava fields, you tin play play successful volcanic craters, connected the banks of glacier rivers, with blistery springs blowing up similar Geysir close adjacent to you with h2o hazards that are made retired of boiling water. You can't get person to quality portion playing golf."

      With the state situated astir equidistant to the US and Europe, is determination immoderate accidental of 1 of golf's large tours taking a tourney to Iceland successful the future?

      "One day, it could beryllium possible. Imagine a PGA Tour lawsuit being played successful the midnight prima that we person present successful June and July, it would beryllium fantastic," says Birgisson.

      Bright future

      Given the modular of the courses successful Iceland, it's small wonderment that play has experienced immense maturation successful the state and present ranks arsenic 1 of the astir fashionable sports.

      "Golf has risen enormously implicit the past 10-15 years, and we've really astir tripled our numbers successful the past 2 decades," says Birgisson, "But the past 2 years person been explosive and present we person implicit 6% of the full colonisation that are really members of a play club.

      "But astatine the aforesaid time, we person astir apt astir 40,000 that really play golf. So 12% of the colonisation plays play and that I deliberation that's -- that indispensable beryllium a satellite record."

      "It's besides worthy mentioning that the level of pistillate information has arisen from 10% to 33% successful that time," helium adds.

        With information continuing to turn and innovative caller courses and facilities, Iceland is rapidly becoming 1 of the astir breathtaking golfing destinations successful the world. With momentum connected his side, Birgisson is assured that things are conscionable getting started.

        "We couldn't beryllium happier, it's harmless to accidental that the aboriginal of Icelandic play is looking precise bright."

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