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Located half an hour’s drive north of the capital metropolis Reykjavik is Brautarholt Golf Course. Laid out throughout a dramatic cliff-lined peninsula, Brautarholt is the brainchild of founder Gunnar Palsson.

Do programs want 18-holes?

Opening initially as a nine-hole course in 2011 earlier than increasing to 12, Brautarholt was designed by famend Icelandic architect Edwin Roald.

Roald has attracted loads of consideration lately together with his “why 18-holes?” motion, a philosophy that implies golf course design can be improved if architects labored to create the very best course for the area they’ve, relatively than cling onto the “antiquated” notion that each course have to be 18-holes lengthy.
“When you might have restricted assets, you’re compelled to make use of what nature has given you,” Roald instructed Hyperlinks journal in 2017. “If solely you might break free from the constraints of getting another person let you know what number of holes you should construct.

“It’s the similar as writing books, or making films. Think about if all books needed to be precisely 200 pages, or a movie needed to final 95 minutes. Would they be pretty much as good?”

Regardless of comprising of solely 12 holes, Brautarholt has been internationally acknowledged as one of many world’s most interesting programs. In 2020, it was ranked No. 64 in an inventory of the World’s Prime-100 programs by Golfscape, alongside the likes of Pebble Seaside and St. Andrews.

A blueprint?

With a brief golf season in Iceland and lengthy winters, golf golf equipment within the nation want to discover progressive methods of extending the season and making golf accessible to youth gamers all yr spherical.

The Iceland males’s soccer workforce made headlines all over the world for his or her exploits on the European Championships in 2016, reaching the quarterfinals and qualifying for his or her first World Cup in 2018. The ladies’s workforce additionally certified for 3 consecutive European championships from 2009 to 2017 having by no means beforehand certified for a serious event.

A lot of the nationwide workforce’s exceptional success has been attributed to the nation’s funding in cutting-edge, indoor services and glorious teaching, a blueprint which will find yourself being replicated in golf.

The GKG Membership in Reykjavik is one in every of Iceland’s largest golf golf equipment, comprised of an 18-hole course plus a nine-hole, par-3 course. With a thriving junior program and lively membership, the membership has just lately invested in a cutting-edge $10 million indoor facility to permit members to observe all year long.

Located beneath the clubhouse, the indoor facility consists of a placing inexperienced, chipping space and 16 Observe Man golf simulators, permitting customers to play roughly 100 programs from all over the world.

Ulfar Jonsson is GKG’s Sporting Director and has seen firsthand the affect the ability has made. “We see our youthful gamers are getting technically extra superior and higher. So we’re seeing higher swings.

“We encourage clearly all our gamers to play as a lot as they’ll out on the course over {the summertime}, however then they’ll are available right here and work on the method in the course of the winter.”

Having had restricted success on the world’s greatest excursions, Haukur Orn Birgisson — the president of the Icelandic Golf Union and the European Golf Affiliation — believes that the funding in services just like the one at GKG may result in outcomes for Icelandic gamers on the highest stage.

“When you consider it, we’ve got a {golfing} season that spans for about 5, six months. So having indoor observe services means quite a bit and with new know-how, these services have turn out to be so superior. GKG is an ideal instance of that. So now you might have membership members taking part in golf in wintertime, albeit indoors and in simulators, however it’s essential for his or her growth.

“It is essential for the junior growth as properly. You possibly can have a look at soccer, for instance. Fifteen years in the past, they began having these indoor soccer services and some years later, our nationwide groups certified for the European Championship and the World Cup. So there you go, it is essential,” he says.

The power at GKG has additionally supplied a helpful social factor to the membership. “Now, we’ve got an all-year facility — earlier than, it was primarily a summer time sport … Now, all of the golfers are available they usually’re taking part in with their pals within the simulators, having fun with a meal and a drink afterwards. So it has been incredible for the morale of the membership,” Jonsson explains.

A simulator is used at the indoor facility at GKG.

Sustainability

In addition to being acknowledged as one of many most interesting programs to play, Brautarholt can also be seeking to turn out to be probably the most sustainable golf course on the planet.

“Right here in Iceland, roughly all of our vitality is renewable, so we thought it might be a good suggestion to maneuver in that route right here,” Palsson explains.

Having embraced hydro and geothermal vitality, practically 100% of Iceland’s electrical energy comes from renewable sources. Trying to reap the benefits of the nation’s clear vitality, Palsson has invested in a fleet of 30 automated electrical mowers.

“We’re at some extent now the place mowers working on electrical energy maintain roughly 98% of the golf course,” Palsson says.

Managing the fleet of small, orange mowers is the job in fact supervisor and head inexperienced keeper Einar Jonasson. “Sure, our little pals. They’re only a totally different mind-set of chopping the grass.”

An electric mower used in Iceland's Brautarholt golf course.

With a sequence of cables laid out across the course, the mowers are programmed to remain on the fairways and could be in motion across the clock. In addition to offering an environmental profit, they’ve additionally allowed Jonasson to focus on different parts in fact upkeep.

Along with a carbon footprint that’s near zero, Brautarholt can also be maintained with out using chemical compounds and with Iceland’s year-round rainfall, there’s no need for any irrigation.

“Our golf course is in a spectacular location and guests come right here to get pleasure from that nature. We do not need to hurt the surroundings within the anyway doable, so we do not care in case you see any weeds within the fairway, we do not need to hurt something,” Jonasson explains.

Having just lately invested in a cutting-edge, electrical, ride-on-mower for tees and greens, Brautarholt is seeking to set a brand new, sustainable normal for golf course administration.

“I believe we’re the greenest golf course on the planet,” Palsson says with satisfaction.

One in all a sort

Regardless of Iceland’s inhabitants of lower than 400,000, the nation is dwelling to a exceptional 65 golf programs — and amongst them are among the most spectacular programs you are prone to discover wherever on the planet.

“I’d encourage everybody to return to play right here,” says Birgisson.

“The character right here is second to none … Whenever you play golf in Iceland, you get to expertise that nature as properly. You possibly can play golf in lava fields, you possibly can play golf in volcanic craters, on the banks of glacier rivers, with scorching springs blowing up like Geysir proper subsequent to you with water hazards which can be made out of boiling water. You possibly can’t get nearer to nature whereas taking part in golf.”

With the nation located virtually equidistant to the US and Europe, is there any likelihood of one in every of golf’s main excursions taking a event to Iceland sooner or later?

“Someday, it could possibly be doable. Think about a PGA Tour occasion being performed within the midnight solar that we’ve got right here in June and July, it might be incredible,” says Birgisson.

Shiny future

Given the usual of the programs in Iceland, it is little surprise that golf has skilled big progress within the nation and now ranks as some of the widespread sports activities.

“Golf has risen enormously over the previous 10-15 years, and we have truly virtually tripled our numbers previously 20 years,” says Birgisson, “However the final two years have been explosive and now we’ve got over 6% of your complete inhabitants which can be truly members of a golf membership.

“However on the similar time, we’ve got in all probability about 40,000 that truly play golf. So 12% of the inhabitants performs golf and that I believe that is — that have to be a world report.”

“It is also value mentioning that the extent of feminine participation has arisen from 10% to 33% in that point,” he provides.

With participation persevering with to develop and progressive new programs and services, Iceland is rapidly changing into some of the thrilling {golfing} locations on the planet. With momentum on his aspect, Birgisson is assured that issues are simply getting began.

“We could not be happier, it is secure to say that the way forward for Icelandic golf is trying very brilliant.”

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