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Swedish Links: Falsterbo’s Coastal Charm

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Located on Sweden’s southern tip along the Baltic Sea, Falsterbo (Falsterbo Golfklubb) is one of two seaside links courses in Sweden (Ljunghusen, more of a heathland course, being the other). Surrounded on three sides by the Baltic Sea, Falsterbo features authentic linksland attributes like dunes, fine fescue turf, pot bunkers, firm and fast conditions, and coastal views of the sea. Its windswept landscape provides a demanding test reminiscent of classic British links courses.

First opened in 1910, Falsterbo holds the distinction as Sweden’s oldest seaside course and one of the few true links courses in Continental Europe. Its storied history, critical acclaim, beautiful seaside landscape, and unique location make Falsterbo a must-play for traveling golf enthusiasts and architecture aficionados.

In this post, we will look at Falsterbo, discover its origins and history, and learn about the surrounding area and location. We will also review the course’s rankings, critical acclaim, and characteristics. We’ll conclude with further reading and some videos to bring the course to life. As always, the adjacent images are simulated to provide context and set the scene.

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Origins of Falsterbo

Falsterbo Golf Club was founded in 1909, making it Sweden’s third-oldest golf club. The first 9-hole course was designed by Robert Turnbull, the professional at Copenhagen Golf Club, and opened in 1910 close to the current location near Falsterbo Lighthouse.

In 1911, the course was moved a few hundred yards to its present location. The first nine holes were constructed around the lighthouse and Ule Nabbe, which had better grass. The course had to share the land with horses and cows then. In 1930, the course was expanded to 18 holes, designed by local doctor Gunnar Bauer. The new holes incorporated the landscape around Flommen Nature Reserve. At that time, the sea came right up to the 17th tee.

Over the next decades, changes were made to bunkers, greens, and other aspects to keep up with developments in golf course architecture. But the overall routing has remained the same. In 1934, the course assumed its current layout after changes by Robert Turnbull. Further renovations were done by Gunnar Bauer in 1953 and Peter Nordwall in 1999. From 2000 to 2001, English architect Peter Chamberlain carried out an extensive bunker and green redesign, which helped enhance the link’s characteristics. This fulfilled a 50-year dream to have the course reflect Gunnar Bauer’s original links vision. The course is currently ranked #31 in continental Europe and #3 overall in Sweden.

falsterbo course

Location

Falsterbo is located on the southern tip of Sweden at the southwestern end of the Falsterbo peninsula, about 30 km south of Malmö. It sits right on the coastline of the Baltic Sea near the strait between Sweden and Denmark. The area has a long sandy beach running over 6 miles along the coast and dunes, pine forests, wetlands, and rich birdlife. Two bodies of water border Falsterbo – the Baltic Sea to the west and south and the Falsterbo Canal to the north. The town has a mild oceanic climate compared to inland Sweden.

Together with the nearby town of Skanör, Falsterbo forms a twin city known as one of Sweden’s historical cities. It started as a 13th-century fishing village but became an important Hanseatic League trading center handling the Scania Market. After the herring disappeared in the 1500s, it reverted to a small fishing town. Today, it is a popular beach resort town for Swedes and foreign tourists. The population is about 3,500, but it swells in summer. Key sites include the beach, Falsterbo Lighthouse, Falsterbo Museum, and 12th-century Falsterbo Church.

Despite its remote location, Falsterbo has hosted some notable events. The course held the Swedish Amateur Championship 7 times, the European Amateur Team Championship in 1963, and the European Ladies Amateur. On the professional side, Falsterbo has also hosted several European and Challenge Tour events, such as the Volvo Open, PLM Open, and Skandia PGA Open.

Beach huts, colourful wooden houses on the beach. North Sea, Falsterbo, Skane, Sweden

Did You Know?

Falsterbo is home to Sweden’s oldest nature reserve, called Måkläppen. Established in 1898, this protected coastal area is known for its beautiful sandy beaches, dunes, wetlands, pine forests, and abundant birdlife.

Falsterbo is an important stopover site for migratory birds and home to rare species like gray and harbor seals. During the winter, seals can be seen resting on rocks and sandbanks, as Måkläppen reserve is open to visitors from November through January for seal watching.

Visitors park at Falsterbo Strandbad or Skanörs hamn and walk 2-3 km to reach Måkläppen. The hike to the southernmost tip takes about an hour each way over sandy terrain.

A harbor seal colony resting on a sandbank near the ocean. Picture from Falsterbo in Scania, Sweden

The Course

The 18-hole course plays at 6,650 yards from the back tees with a par of 71 and a slope rating of 129. The layout features the natural undulations of seaside linksland, with most holes playing right along the Baltic Sea. The terrain is largely flat and exposed, making wind an ever-present factor. Unique hazards include marshland areas left by the receding sea interspersed between holes. The course emphasizes creative shot-making and precision iron play to handle the wind and target the subtly contoured greens.

The 160-yard, par-3 11th hole is listed among the “World’s 500 Greatest Golf Holes” in the Golf Magazine / George Peper Book. Peper writes, “On a course set on a peninsula, it could be said that the 11th hole is a microcosm of Falsterbo. The oval-shaped green complex is surrounded on three sides, not by the Baltic Sea but by one of the several lakes that dot the otherwise linksland property. Though the hole is short, it is certainly the most dramatic on the course, where the chances for par or double bogey are about equal.”

Notable holes include the 190-yard par-3 2nd along wetlands, the short 7th emerging from trees onto pure links, and the short par-3 8th played to a peninsula green. Tough driving holes at 9 and 12 require carries over coastal hazards, while the long par-3 14th requires a forced carry over a huge bunker on approach to an iconic green with the historic Falsterbo lighthouse as a backdrop. The round concludes with the reachable, short par-5 18th that plays along the Baltic Sea, featured in George Waters’ great book, “Sand and Golf,” showcasing the natural landscape and dunes that transition the course to the beach.

Visit Falsterbo online at http://www.falsterbogk.se/default.asp?sektion=eng.

falsterbo crse

Further Reading

world's greatest golf holes

The World’s 500 Greatest Golf Holes
by George Peper

Summary: More than six hundred lavish photographs complement anecdotal “biographies” and vital statistics of the holes deemed the best in the world by the magazine’s editors and their panel of international experts. Readers will find out if their favorite holes made the cut by first turning to The Eighteen, representing the most respected and challenging holes–holes like the thirteenth at Augusta National. Next, they discover which are considered the top one hundred (no surprise that the eleventh at St. Andrews Old Course and the fifth at Pinehurst are included here). Finally, there is an all-inclusive gazetteer of all five hundred.

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Sand and Golf
by George Waters

Summary: “Sand and Golf” explores how sandy terrain uniquely suits golf, studying similarities and differences between courses worldwide with sandy features. It examines all aspects of the relationship between sand and golf, from the sport’s origins in Scottish coastal dunes to its global spread onto sandy sites. Written by golf architect George Waters with a preface by renowned designer Tom Doak, it details through examples and illustrations why firm, rugged, windy sandy terrain makes creative shot-making integral to the game. The book appeals to knowledgeable golfers interested in course design and architecture, analyzing the art and science behind why golf belongs on sand.

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True Links
by  Malcolm Campbell & George Peper

Summary: True Links by Malcolm Campbell and George Peper profiles over 240 of the world’s top links golf courses across the British Isles and beyond, examining their history, design features, and status as an authentic “true links.” Organized geographically, the book offers photos, maps, scorecards and playing tips for renowned seaside tests like Royal County Down, Ballybunion, Cabot Links, Barnbougle Dunes and others that meet the authors’ criteria.  For links golf aficionados, True Links serves as an illustrated guidebook for experiencing the unique joys and challenges of the game’s most revered coastal courses.

Videos

Falsterbo – No Laying Up
Falsterbo – Flyover
Falsterbo Beach – Flyover
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