Annika Sörenstam visited Estonian Golf & Country Club, the Tallinn venue which is a member of The European Tour Properties network, as plans for her first course design in Europe take shape.
The ten-time major champion, who amassed an unprecedented 89 tournament victories in a 15-year career, is designing a new course to complement the venue’s existing Sea Course, rated among Europe’s Top 100 Courses.
Construction of the new course at Estonian Golf & Country Club is part of a major development to create a family leisure resort and spa, including a 150-room hotel, overlooking the Gulf of Finland.
Annika is working closely with European Golf Design (EGD), the golf course design company of the European Tour and IMG, with groundwork scheduled to start in 2016.
Sörenstam said: “This is a naturally beautiful landscape, reminiscent of where I grew up, and it’s a privilege to be asked to design a golf course here.
“My approach to course design is to capture the natural character of the landscape, blending golf holes into the surrounding environment. My goal is to create a versatile course that can be enjoyed by players of any age and skill level, using a variety of tees, landing areas and approaches.
“Ultimately, I want it to be both a strategic challenge and a memorable experience, whether you are an elite player competing in a tournament, or a young golfer enjoying a family holiday.”
She added: “Estonian Golf & Country Club’s plans for a leisure resort that is family friendly shows great vision and I’m excited to be part of a project that I believe will attract visitors from across the Nordic countries, Europe and beyond.”
The new 18-hole course will replace the existing nine-hole Stone Course at Estonian Golf & Country Club, and will complement the championship Sea Course, which in 2011 hosted European qualifying for the Omega Mission Hills World Cup, the final of which was staged at the upscale Chinese resort which also boasts an ANNIKA® designed course.
On high, flat land above a limestone escarpment that drops down to a pine forest and the Sea Course, the new ANNIKA® layout will command outstanding views over the Rebala National Heritage Area, within which the GEO Certified™ country club is situated.
Using the long, native grasses and firm turf, the course will have a links-like look and feel. Tees will be spread out with the tournament course measuring 6,445m (7,050 yards), while fully constructed forward tees will create a genuine 4,000m (4,375 yards) course for juniors and new golfers.
Hanno Kross, Estonian Golf & Country Club Chief Executive, said: “I first met Annika in 2011 to discuss designing our second course and she immediately understood and empathized with our vision to further develop Estonian Golf & Country Club into an international leisure resort and spa.
“As well as being one of the most successful golfers of all time, she is family orientated and coaches young people, so brings a contemporary perspective to the needs of a modern resort and the type of golf course and facilities that are required.”
Estonian Golf & Country Club, just 20 minutes from the country’s exquisite capital city of Tallinn, will open its new ANNIKA® Course, as well as the first 60 rooms of the new hotel, in 2019.
Hanno Kross added: “While many golfers regularly hop across on the ferry from Finland to play golf in Estonia, we hope the new ANNIKA® Course will attract more golfers and families from Sweden, who can travel here easily via a 55-minute flight or on the daily ferry, as well as other European countries.
“This is an exciting new concept for golf tourism in northern Europe – where our long, sunny summer days are perfect for active, outdoor holidays – and we are extremely pleased Annika is on board and is contributing so much to the strategy behind this project.”
Annika’s visit to Estonian Golf & Country Club Chief coincides with the venue’s tenth anniversary. To mark the occasion, a special open tournament will take place on both the Stone and Sea Courses, together with a 10th birthday party.