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Hills/Forrest to Create New 18 at Renowned Swedish Tournament Site
With construction activities underway at Vasatorp Golfklubb in Helsingborg, the course architects at Arthur Hills/Steve Forrest and Associates are poised to continue their remaking of the Swedish golf landscape.
Hills/Forrest is responsible for the new Hills Golf Club, unveiled last year near Gothenburg, already hailed as continental Europe's top new course and a potential Ryder Cup venue. With another hotly anticipated project, Sand Golf Club, nearing completion in Jonkoping, Hills/Forrest was the natural choice to upgrade Vasatorp, one of Sweden's first true championship venues.
Vasatorp Golfklubb, whose original 18 was completed in 1974, played host to the European PGA Tour's Scandinavian Enterprise Open (later becoming the Scandinavian Masters) from 1978 to 1981, when Sweden was just emerging as a European golf hotbed. Having produced champions such as Seve Ballesteros, Greg Norman and Sandy Lyle, the Scandinavian Enterprise Open and Vasatorp are generally credited with establishing golf in Sweden as a spectator sport.
The tournament's success was also a key component in launching the country's spectacularly successful player development movement. Gabriel Hjertstedt, the first Swede to win on the U.S. PGA Tour, is a product of Vasatorp's own junior program. Indeed, a product of the national program, Annika Sorenstam, bested another, Sophie Gustafson, when the European Ladies Tour revisited Vasatorp for the Compaq Open in 2002.
Vasatorp, which now boasts 45 holes of golf, will soon present four distinctly different golf experiences to its members and guests. Currently, the club boasts a classic British parkland 18, a newly opened nine-hole short course (designed by Ove Sellberg, the first Swede to win on the European PGA Tour), and a testing, full-length nine-hole loop.
With an eye toward attracting future tournament play (and to offer members a longer, more challenging test), the club has retained Arthur Hills/Steve Forrest and Associates to remake the full-length nine-hole loop and add nine more holes to create what is essentially a brand new, championship 18 here in Helsingborg.
Ground was broken in mid-December 2005. A grand opening has been scheduled for spring 2008.
"This project is part renovation, part new design. But our remaking of the existing nine holes is so extensive, it's more accurate to call it a brand-new 18-hole course," says Steve Forrest, partner and principal at Hills/Forrest. "As one gathers from Vasatorp's history, the club has maintained an interest in improving the facility, expanding it and attracting prestigious tournaments. The 18 holes we've designed here will do all three things."
Some 34 Arthur Hills/Steve Forrest designs have hosted PGA Tour, European PGA Tour, Champions Tour, LPGA Tour, USGA and PGA of America events. In 2005, Oitavos Golfe Quinta da Marinha, a 2002 Hills/Forrest design, played host to the European PGA Tour's Open of Portugal. The firm's 130 renovation projects include the refurbishment and preparation of three U.S. Open sites: Oakland Hills, Oakmont and Inverness.
"We’re helping Vasatorp do something similar to what Inverness would do: upgrade its championship-hosting capabilities," Forrest explains. "The difference is that we’re creating a new championship venue as opposed to refining an existing one.
"Stylistically, the existing nine-hole property is accented by a some beautiful mature trees – oaks and towering, old pines – while the new nine has been routed on open land using a linksland theme, with spectator mounding separating the playing corridors. It’s going to be long enough to test the world’s best players – some 6,700 meters, or 7,300 yards – but I believe competitors, spectators and club members will be most struck by the variety of strategic challenges. It’s going to be quite a golf course."
Arthur Hills/Steve Forrest and Associates, with more than 200 original designs to its credit, is perhaps Europe’s most active course architecture firm, with projects at various stages of planning and construction in Sweden, Portugal, Slovakia, Hungary, Spain and Italy. Under the direction of Olivier Daelemans, the firm recently opened a European headquarters in Brussels.
"Hills/Forrest has 40 years experience designing golf courses in every climate and market imaginable, and nobody else has that in Europe," says Daelemans, the firm’s Belgian-born director of European and Middle East Operations. "The firm has also shown itself willing and able to adapt to different cultures and I think that’s a big advantage. Hills/Forrest is unique among American design companies, I think, because they haven’t remained solely focused on the U.S. market. We have established local offices here in Europe, assembled a large team that can react quickly. With all this in place, I think we are beginning to see the results of this experience – in Sweden with projects like Vasatorp, Hills GC and Sand, but also across Europe and the Middle East."
For more information on Arthur Hills/Steve Forrest and Associates, contact the firm in Brussels (+ 32 2548 0568), in the United States (419/841-8553) or visit www.arthurhills.com.