Lofoten: Links in the Land of the Midnight Sun

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Norway’s Lofoten Links is the world’s northernmost links golf course, located 100 miles inside the Arctic Circle, one of golf’s most beautiful and distinctive settings. Its driving force is Frode Hov, whose family has owned the land on Gimsøy Island in the Norwegian Sea for seven generations. In 1991, when just 14 years old, a childhood friend of his father’s had visited Scotland and witnessed the beauty of the linksland courses, realizing their similarity to Hov’s family farm. This catalyzed a 20-year journey to turn his family’s farm into a world-class course. They realized that the site’s sandy soil and natural terrain were perfect for golf, summed up by Hov, “We are using the landscape, using the location to create something we believe is unique.”

The season at Lofoten runs from May through September. During these summer months, the region experiences the midnight sun, allowing golfers to take advantage of round-the-clock daylight. The sun never sets from the end of May until the end of July, creating a scenario where golfers can tee off at any hour.

In this post, we’ll discover Lofoten Links, one of the most unique golf courses in one of Earth’s most beautiful settings. We’ll learn its origins and evolution, explore the course’s unique characteristics. We’ll close with further reading suggestions and videos that will bring the course to life.

If you enjoy these course writeups, consider subscribing to our weekly newsletter to receive updates on new posts, partners, and discount codes. For more information, check out the other courses featured in our Legendary Links series, which will soon be published in a book, “Links Around the World.”

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The Greenside Gallery

The Greenside Gallery specializes in crafting exquisite Golf Course Maps for your home or office, offering high-quality prints that capture the beauty and essence of any golf course in the world

Each piece features a meticulously mapped aerial view of your chosen golf course, allowing you to relive cherished golfing memories while adding a touch of sophistication to your decor. 

Explore their collection of over 1,000 courses or order a custom map of any course in the world and celebrate your golfing passion with a truly unique piece of art.

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Origins and History

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Creating Lofoten Links was a testament to the power of vision and perseverance. It took years of planning, design, and construction to bring the course to life. With a small but enthusiastic team, they began constructing a modest 6-hole course in 1998, proving that building a links course on this terrain was possible. Utilizing the area’s natural sand reserves was a key factor in making their vision a reality.

The team overcame numerous challenges, including the harsh Arctic climate, rugged terrain, and remote location, and expanded to 9 holes under the direction of English architect Jeremy Turner. Despite the obstacles, they utilized the natural landscape and incorporated the stunning scenery of the Lofoten Islands into the layout. Over the next decade, holes were gradually added until Lofoten Links officially opened as a full 18-hole course in 2015. The project’s greatest asset was the location, resulting in a breathtaking course that seamlessly blends with its surroundings.

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The course is located on an old Viking site with at least two tombs from the Viking Ages on the course. Historians believe Viking chieftain Tore Hjort originated from the area, and the first hole bears his name in tribute. Additionally, the course is home to various Norwegian wildlife, such as reindeer, seabirds, seals, and even whales that can occasionally be spotted offshore. Birdlife is abundant with sea eagles, black-tailed curlew, grouse, oystercatchers, starlings, ducks, and large flocks of migratory birds observed from the course.

Since its opening, Lofoten Links has garnered international acclaim. In 2023, Golf World and National Golfer ranked the course as Europe’s 12th best course built since 1980. The course’s remote location adds to its allure, as the trip from the airport requires a winding, scenic 2-3 hour drive, showcasing the stunning beauty of the Lofoten archipelago.

The midnight sun fades as the season transitions into August and September, but the long summer days persist, still offering extended playing times. However, once October arrives, the course hibernates for the winter months due to the dark and cold Arctic conditions that blanket this remote part of Norway.

Did You Know?

Lofoten Links is the northernmost links course in the world (Norway’s Tromsø Golf Park is the world’s northernmost 18-hole course), situated at 68 degrees north latitude. The course lies just a few hundred kilometers from the Arctic Circle, a unique geographical position that grants golfers an experience like no other, as they can tee off under the mesmerizing glow of the midnight sun during the summer months.

The phenomenon of the midnight sun occurs in regions north of the Arctic Circle, where the sun remains visible above the horizon for 24 hours a day during the summer solstice. This natural wonder creates an enchanting atmosphere at Lofoten Links, bathing the course in a soft, golden light stretching endlessly into the night. Golfers can tee off at any hour, as the sun’s perpetual presence erases the boundaries between day and night.

This rare opportunity to golf under the midnight sun adds a layer of allure to Lofoten Links, making it a bucket-list destination for golfers worldwide. The course’s stunning natural beauty, challenging layout, and the surreal experience of teeing off in the middle of the night are a testament to the unique wonders that await those who venture to the far reaches of the globe in pursuit of their passion for the game.

View from the Reinebringen mountain to the skerries of Reine and Hamnoy, connected by bridges and dams, close up, Lofoten, Norway lofoten links

The Course

The course plays to a par of 71, with five different tee positions on each hole, allowing the course to play from 5,000 yards and stretching to a formidable 7,200 yards from the tips. The fairways are quite narrow, with the “rough” consisting of rocks, marsh, and heather, creating a challenging approach or recovery if you miss the fairway. Many of the greens are built on a rugged, unforgiving landscape of rocks and wetlands, which made course construction difficult.

The first hole is a short par-4, measuring 330 yards from the back tees, that sweeps from right to left around the bay. The tee shot requires precision, as playing too safe can end up on the rocks through the fairway, and a Viking grave, while being too aggressive can lead to a watery grave. The green is elevated and slopes toward the sea, making for an intriguing opening hole worthy of its namesake, “Tore Hjort.”

The signature second, “Arholmen,” is the most photographed hole in Scandinavia and one of the most thrilling short holes in the world. The green is perched on the rocks; any short, left, or right will result in a certain calamity, and it’s better to be long. The third hole requires a tee shot that carries the ball over a beach and a cliff down a narrow fairway. Players can lay up with an iron, but the long approach shot that follows brings water into play on the left side of the green.

The landscape remains thrilling as the course moves inland, with great mountains visible on three sides beyond the water. These mountains serve as aimlines for tee shots and provide a stunning backdrop for the course. The sixth hole is a fantastic par-3, playing uphill at 160 yards, with the green set amongst grey, brown, and black rocks. While intimidating from the tee, players will find more space around the green than initially perceived.

Lofoten Links features seven greens perched on or near the rugged coastline, mostly at the beginning or end of the round, while the remaining holes head up to the higher, rocky, inland ground. Hov says that he and his team are not done at Lofoten, “We’re not finished yet, far from it. We want to create more activities, refine the golf course, and make it even better.”

Visit Lofoten Links at https://lofotenlinks.no/?lang=en

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PuttView Golf Books

PuttView Books are detailed yardage and green maps designed to help golfers save strokes, especially under tournament conditions. They offer precise visual representations of courses, including topographic slope percentages, fairway arrows for slopes over 4%, and a dual view of greens accurate to the millimeter. The books are printed on high-quality waterproof paper, sized to fit traditional yardage book covers, and are USGA legal. 

Customers praise PuttView Books for their stunning detail, stylish presentation, and the confidence they instill in decision-making on the course. With 30,000 courses represented, your home course is bound to be available, as is Lofoten Links!

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Further Reading

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Classic Golf Links
by Donald Steel

Summary: Classic Golf Links of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland by Donald Steele is a guidebook featuring 75 spectacular links golf courses in the British Isles, covering their history, design, and challenges. The book includes scorecards, hole maps, photos, and playing tips for each course, providing key information for golf travelers while celebrating these revered seaside tests.  With writing by Donald Steel and photos by Brian Morgan, Classic Golf Links is considered an essential reference for experiencing the best of links golf.

This book is a must for anyone with an affinity for links golf. I bought this book years ago and still return to it often. The pictures are amazing and they alone will make you fall in love with these courses.

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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.


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