Falsterbo GolfKlubb
Falsterbo, Sweden

Twelfth hole, 405 yards, Strandskatan; For the first time in the round, the golfer is brought in close proximity with one of the two large bodies of water that define the course. From a tee cut into a bank along the sound, the golfer surveys the split fairway before him. Which island of the fairway is best for that day is wholly dependent on the wind. As at the fifth, several bunkers dot the front of the green with the largest one being a good fifteen paces from the green’s front edge. Such forward hazards accentuate the challenge of depth perception at Falsterbo.

The feeling of playing beside large bodies of water is heightened over the last seven holes.

A view from the twelfth tee in the other direction reveals an appealing two shotter.

Fourteenth hole, 230 yards, Fyrhalet; Given that the other par three on the second nine (the eleventh) is all about aerial golf, the fourteenth proves to be the perfect compliment as it is all about the ground game. Indeed, admirers of  links golf might even find this hole more compelling for that very reason. Two deep cross bunkers dominate the view from the tee. As they are thirty-five yards short of the green, dead ground is created and just where to land the ball beyond those bunkers is a perpetually intriguing mystery. As should hold true for most holes of this length on a windy site, the green is open in front and it is left up to the golfer’s imagination and talent as to how best to get his tee ball onto the putting surface. All options are open to the player , which is always a sign of fine architecture. Congratulations to Turnbull for building this one shotter in 1911 and to Bauer for incorporating it in 1930 into his eighteen hole routing.

One of the two oldest holes at Falsterbo is still one of its very best. Don't be fooled by the cross hazards that are well short of the partially hidden green.

Sixteenth hole, 390 yards, Gunnar Bauer; The course’s most memorable three hole stretch isn’t its toughest (that belongs to one of several sequences on the front) but it starts now along the banks of the Oresund. Ideally, the club would have a bit more land to stretch one or more of the final three holes but it doesn’t. Instead, the architects use differing methods here and the next hole to make them play to their maximum length. Here, there is no advantage to driving tight along the shore line and taking the direct line at the green as it is sealed off front right by a large bunker. Better to play out to the outside left of the fairway but honestly, the playing merits of the hole are overshadowed by the green’s setting.  Beyond it is the tip of the club’s property where the Baltic and Oresund merge. Long views to the horizon abound with Denmark to the right and Germany to the left.  In the fall and spring, golfers happily share the end of the peninsula with photographers and bird watchers. Once again, the great game of golf has taken the player to a magical spot that he would otherwise likely never have been, and he is eternally grateful.

Standing behind the sixteenth is a professional photographer taking pictures of migrating birds in late August.

Seventeenth hole, 380 yards, Nabben; This hole poses an interesting study in greed. Given its modest length and assuming a gale isn’t blowing, many a golfer can rightly stand on the tee with hopes for a par. The rub comes from those who press the issue with a bunker and small water hazard narrowing the fairway to under twenty yards of width 250-285 yards from the tee. Lay back from there and the golfer enjoys but a short iron in but great is the temptation in such a glorious setting to swing away with the driver in hopes that something equally wonderful happens. Interestingly enough, Bauer didn’t use the area of today’s sixteenth and seventeenth holes in his initial eighteen hole re-work. A local doctor by trade,  where Bauer learned so much about golf course architecture is unclear but he was certainly a quick study. In 1934, four years after his formation of this eighteen hole course, this portion of the property with its ever shifting sands was deemed stable enough to place two holes. The benefits were three fold. First, by abandoning the original first and second holes, room was created for today’s large practice field.  Second, the wonderful sense of being on a peninsula is at its most acute here with the corresponding feeling of remoteness having become a cornerstone of playing golf at Falsterbo.  And third, the original eighteenth was played as a straightaway hole with its tee between today’s fifteenth and seventeenth greens. With the two new holes, Bauer pushed the eighteenth tee up into the dunes, thereby creating the handsome and strategic Home hole of today. Since then, little else has ever changed to the routing, a testimony to Bauer’s skill in getting the most from the relatively small site of 110 acres.

The golfer soaks in the view of the pristine environment off the seventeenth tee.

The bunker and heather ahead and the red stakes barely visible to the left suggest restraint from the seventeenth tee.

The fescue rough and heather leave dicey lies for those who stray off the fairway.

Eighteenth hole, 485 yards, Klitterna; The first three holes start on the inland border of the property and then work away from the Baltic while paralleling the Oresund from a distance. Starting at the fourth, there is a  slow progression toward either the Baltic or Oresund and the golfer enthusiastically accepts the gradual building of excitement. The peak occurs either at the sixteenth green/seventeenth tee area or here at the eighteenth tee, depending on one’s preference. Certainly, nowhere is the golfer more keenly aware of the seaside landscape than along the eighteenth where a nearly twenty foot tall dune runs parallel to the length of the fairway. Anything from a ‘3’ to a ‘7’ is a distinct possible and this range of fortune helps make this among Europe’s two or three finest finishing holes, right up there with the ones at Saint Germain and Falkenstein.  All the playing angles work extremely well with bunkers, heather and dunes guarding the short route home on this dogleg right. At the green, the left greenside bunker has been built up admirably and the hole locations behind it are clearly the most vexing.

One of the game's great finishing holes commences with this tempting drive. Each golfer must decide the prudent line for himself.

The deepest greenside bunker on the course is a function of how high the bunker wall has been built up. Today's hole location directly behind it requires great care.

In some ways, Falsterbo with its blend of coastal holes and internal water hazards might remind the well traveled golfer of Maidstone on Long Island in the United States of America.  Neither relies on length and both are crafty courses, each in their own way. Maidstone is such because of Willie Park Jr., one of the grand masters of golf course architecture. There is no such prominent design figure at Falsterbo, which makes the evolution of the course all the more remarkable. To its everlasting credit, despite having hosted famous events, Falsterbo remains unpretentious and has never fallen prey to passing fads. Its clubhouse is cozy and its course represents an uncluttered landscape firmly rooted in nature whose appeal will never diminish.

There is every reason to be hopeful that the club will continue to do as fine a job of overseeing the course for the next century as it did in the first.

The End