top of page
  • Neil White

Lofoten Links

Updated: Jun 18

Enjoy the read and also listen to The Golf Pilgrim podcast from Lofoten Links at https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/the-golf-pilgrim/id1743914901?i=1000659173624 or your favourite platform


"Oi, ha, ha, ha, ha," came the shout just as our compadre was about to strike the ball.


As it hooked wildly, we could not stifle our laughter. Our pal had been a victim of a Willow Ptarmigan's midnight mating call.


In the land where the sun never sets, nocturnal wildlife comes out to play with the golfers and the cries of birds, which sound weirdly humanlike, are far louder than the occasional 'fore',


The avian commentary was one of the many unforgettable moments at Lofoten Links in Norway's Arctic Circle.



Yet, our most vivid memory was of a course that could be considered the most breathtaking on the planet, nestled between a fjord and snow-capped mountains.


This is much more than a novelty project – it is a terrific test of golf in stunning surroundings.


Lofoten is a three-hour drive through stunningly picturesque fjords from the nearest commercial airport, Evenes. It's a wise move to take an extra hour or two to soak in the beauty.


Six of us, including Mrs W, stayed in two of the Lofoten lodges on the land of the Hov family, who have made their golfing dream a reality.



There is also a high-quality restaurant and pro shop to satisfy those needing the must-have woolly hats.


Yep, this is the Arctic, and while the weather was relatively kind to us, it can become rather chilly in the small hours.


Midnight golf in June and July is a must. We finished one of our rounds at 1:30 a.m., simultaneously buzzing and exhausted.


Playing more than one round (not necessarily all at night) is essential to allow the Lofoten glow to seep into the bones.


Having read endless reviews and watched umpteen videos, our anticipation was too high as we walked towards the much-hyped first tee.


The sight ahead is of a short par-four that demands a carry over a rocky coastline before turning left in front of more crags and Arctic fauna.


We learned later of the benefits of placement, but all I wanted to do was rip a drive, which inevitably cut off too much of the corner and pinballed across huge stones before disappearing.


It would not be the last ball lost at Lofoten – it would be wise to save the best in your bag until the last round.




I recorded par on the first two days later at my fourth attempt and had a similar record on arguably the finest second hole on the planet.


This is attacked from an elevated tee over a beach to a green framed by rocks, which defend it from the sea.


If it weren't tricky enough, there is a bunker in front of the pin.



The only possible bail-out is to find the slither of ground to the right of the target. I found that, chipped up and putted in for one of the pars of my golfing life.


In common with many European courses, there are gender-neutral tee positions at Lofoten – the 55s suited my 10.6 handicap while Mrs W played off the 48s.


Our big-hitting compadres tried some of the 61 (championship) tees from which the views are even more stunning but demand carries beyond Mrs W and me.



An example was on the third, which was 220 yards across the beach. I opted for the elevated 55-tee to a fairway that weaves between rocks and a dune with a bunker.


It dips down before rising to a green that ascends from front to back but is challenging to hold. This is partly due to hard-putting surfaces that have not recovered as quickly as expected from extended frosts.


Let's be honest; some golfers will want slicker greens and neater tee boxes than Lofoten's.



Very approachable founder Frode Hov, told us that the former settle down as the season progresses and much work is being done to improve the latter.


The grass on the fairways looks snow-burnt in places but is consistently tight around the course.


The only tricky lies are because of undulations and having to play from below or above the feet.



I digress.


The fourth is a dogleg par-four over picturesque inland ponds and around a grassy mound up to a green protected by a large bunker front right and two deep traps to its rear.


The course routing has changed over the years and the owners are re-examining it because the walks between some holes are quite a distance.


The stroke-index one, par-five fifth, had our group torn because of the rocks across the fairway directly in front of the green. These added an extra degree of difficulty in finding a target that also has stones and rough to its rear..



On my final round, I was thrilled to drill my approach over the obstacle to about 12 feet, but I missed my birdie by an inch.


The sixth is gorgeous, with a mountain backdrop. From an elevated tee, a neck of fairway opens out before a lake to the right and a plateaued target.


There is no let-up in the drama on the seventh, a par-three mostly hidden by a rocky dune. I was delighted with a strike that landed four feet from the pin and scored a two.



For me, the eighth is one of the course's most demanding – a par-five bending around a lake with heathery rough down the right.


The approach must fly over a clutch of rocks 20 yards before the green and avoid a bunker to the right.


The variety of challenges is admirable and the short par-four ninth's are on the green which slopes alarmingly from left to right. Even moderate aggression could see the ball trail off towards the clubhouse.



There is a long walk to the 10th – a straight uphill par-four that suited my game but its right-hand stream snaffles balls that fade. Anyone trying to come in from the left of a leaning green must fly a group of rocks.


The 11th demands a straight drive with spongy heather in mounds down the left and leaning towards the greenkeepers' complex on the right. Trouble avoidance will leave an approach to a flat green hidden behind a dune.


The degree of difficulty ramps up a notch with the 200+ yard par-three 12th over plenty of heavy rough with a penalty area down the right and big traps in front of an ascending green.


In my opinion, the bending 13th offers the best birdie chance at Lofoten if alarms can be avoided with a drive over rocks and brush. The remainder of the hole is flat and relatively wide.



I lost a ball off the tee during my first round but had an eagle putt with my second ball.


The fourteenth and 15th are par-fours that yield opportunities if rocks, heather, and water are avoided, but the 16th is a hole I failed to conquer.


This is a downhill par-four towards the sea, an extra 120 metres from the 61 tee.


The S-shaped fairway winds between grass-topped bunkers and alongside the beach, which I found on the first day, treading gingerly onto the black sand to address my ball.


My clean white shoes were disappearing as I clipped the ball from between pebbles to five feet from the pin only to miss my par putt.



No such dismay came on the 17th over water and rocks, which I was in sync with from my opening round. I achieved par three each time and was a smidgeon away from birdie on my final attempt.


I believe the 18th is the weakest hole – a par-four with the most generous fairway comfortably reachable in two. It seemed out of keeping with the drama of the others.


Nevertheless, Lofoten Links is the most spellbinding setup I have experienced – even more scenic than Ardfin or Cabot Cliffs.


In common with both, it rewards extreme golf travellers with an unforgettable trip.

164 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Comments


Post: Blog2_Post
bottom of page