Golfing In Iceland
On my way to the Renaissance Cup this year, being held in Scotland, I had a chance to stopover in Iceland and play some golf. It happened to be during the summer solstice which means it's golfable until 3am! Arriving to Reykjavík airport at 5am, this meant I had just 24 hrs of exploring to do, so decided to make the most of it.
Local golf architect Edwin Roald suggested I go straight to the Westman Islands where one of Iceland's best kept golf secrets is. After an hours' drive and a half hour ferry crossing I arrived to 'the Westmans'; a quaint fishing village set amongst a series of small volcanic islands jutting out of the water. The golf course was incredible. Established back in 1939, it inhabits an old dormant volcano crater on the edge of the ocean. The views are spectacular and the golf was pure fun. Weaving in and out of lava formations and alongside ocean side cliffs n crags, this links course had an amazing variety of golf holes with tons of quirky features to play around on. It played fast and firm, and the locals I played with were a blast too.
After almost missing my ferry back to the main land (I had to literally run from the 18th green to the ferry terminal golf bag and all!) I then headed to Brautarholt Golf Course near Reykjavík. This is a fairly new golf track designed by Edwin Roald who I ended up meeting up with at the club. This course was really neat with several holes along cliffs/bluffs and views towards Reykjavík. Although only 9 holes at present, Edwin has done a wonderful job at routing the course on the tricky volcanic terrain and I look forward to seeing the course in the future with more holes to come.
The third and last course I played on this Icelandic golf marathon was called the Keilir Golf Club. This course was surprising in how different the two nines where. Teeing off at midnight, the front nine navigates through an ancient lava field and has no bunkers to speak of -- and nor does it need bunkers -- the landforms and shot variety was enough to keep my interest. The back nine was a throwback to Scottish links golf complete with deep pot bunkers, large rolling fairways, and the odd rock wall reminiscent of North Berwick. After finishing up my round at 2:30 in the morning and watching the sun finally set into the ocean, I was ready to pass out!
Surprisingly, Iceland has a huge golfing population because of the midnight sun during the summer months and the amount usable links land. Anyone thinking of checking out Iceland should definitely bring their sticks as the golfing options are plentiful and unique (check out the golf club with the geyser!). I look forward to returning sometime in the near future.