Norway’s Lofoten Links provides an inspiring setting for golfers.
With their natural beauty and rugged landscape, the islands of the Lofoten archipelago in Norway have long been a source of inspiration for artists and a draw for rock climbers and mountaineers. But for the golf enthusiast seeking a truly unique experience, Lofoten Links on the island of Gimsøya in Lofoten provides an extraordinary outing that simply can’t be replicated anywhere else.
“It’s an exotic feeling of being close to nature with these surroundings,” says Frode Hov, CEO of Lofoten Links. “You feel small as a human with this open sea, light and nature that surrounds you. Some have explained it as communing with nature.” But this is unlike any other back-to-nature adventure. Although the course at Lofoten Links has surroundings that are reminiscent of traditional Scottish links, the distinctive terrain combines a series of jagged mountains and peaks, open seas, sheltered beaches and untouched land. Despite its location in the Arctic Circle, the area boasts rather mild temperatures, making it an ideal year-round destination for outdoor adventurers.
Although it has long captured the fascination of cyclists, rock climbers and even surfers, golf has been a fairly new addition to the region’s offerings. With the opening of a six-hole course in July 1998, Hov says they began testing the waters and changing the perception about Norway as a golfing destination.
“It was always our plan to have an 18-hole course,” Hov explains, “but the challenge has been that we were the first and only [golf course] in the area, and we needed some time to convince the public. But it has been very well-received locally, nationally and abroad.”
The full 18-hole course opened in July 2015, expanding upon the original course and furthering the ambitious detail with which it was designed. With its seaside location and unobstructed views to the north, Lofoten Links uses the ocean itself as a water hazard on several holes, and the sandy beaches serve as natural bunkers.
Offering four different tees, Hov says, makes it accessible to golfers of all skill levels. But that’s just part of what makes it so appealing to both novice and seasoned golfers.
“It’s the beauty of the nature that surrounds it, and the spectacular design so close to the sea and the elements of nature,” Hov says. “Some holes have the most spectacular backdrops in the world, we think.”
By way of example, he points to Hole 2, which has a “spectacular location” on a half-island.
“You play straight to the north and into the midnight sun with the Arctic Sea all around. It’s even more spectacular on windy days with big waves.”
NIGHTS AND LIGHTS
During the summer months, Norway experiences the midnight sun, which means there’s daylight ’round the clock. Lofoten Links offers golfers the only destination in the world where they can enjoy playing in natural light late at night.
“The colors of the sun and the sounds of birds at midnight is truly a unique experience,” Hov says. “It’s a never-ending sunset with red colors for hours. It’s so difficult to explain if you haven’t experienced it.”
After the midnight sun has disappeared, golfers who visit from August to April can enjoy a different kind of nightlight—the Northern Lights. Lofoten Links’ cabin and apartments have an open view to the north so guests can take full advantage of this remarkable sight.
“It’s one of the best spots in the world to see this light phenomenon,” Hov says. “Play golf all day and then experience the unique light show at late evening and night. Th e colors are beautiful.”
Lofoten Links provides a range of accommodations that have up to three bedrooms, all of which overlook the sea and face north. Meals can be prepared in the kitchenette, and breakfasts can be provided if ordered in advance.
Inside the clubhouse, the café and bar offers meals made from local produce and also serves local Lofoten beer. But the menu is best known for its ever-present waffles and coffee, which must be tried at least once during a visit.
BEYOND THE COURSE
Lofoten Links reinforces the area’s reputation as an unparalleled vacation destination. Lofoten’s Viking history provides many tourist attractions, including Lofotr Viking Museum and, in Borg, there’s a living museum on the grounds, which has been rebuilt from the remains of the largest Viking longhouse known to exist in the Viking Age.
Th e area’s history as a fishing village is reflected in the many fisherman’s cabins that have been renovated into modern lodging for travelers, and there are plenty of restaurants that all offer their own ambience—and are known for the fresh fish they serve.
Regardless of whether visitors explore the area around them or stay on the Lofoten Links, Hov says there’s an undeniable appeal to the area.
“It’s a place to chill out and relax. Once you start loving it, you always want to go back.”