By Steve Todd, europeantour.com, at Himmerland Golf & Spa Resort
The European Tour’s return to Denmark for the first time in 11 years has undoubtedly captured the imagination of Danish golf fans, and there is one thing in particular that has got everyone talking this week.
Himmerland Golf & Spa Resort’s dramatic 128 yard par three 16th hole – affectionately christened Himmerland Hill by the locals – has proved to be a hugely popular feature with both spectators and players alike at Made in Denmark.
With its steep banks horseshoeing a postage stamp, two tier green, the natural amphitheatre has space for around 3,000 fans, and has created a cauldron of noise for the players making the short journey from tee to putting surface.
For the fans, it has produced a festival feeling, as they witnessed 79 birdies, 224 pars, 74 bogeys and 13 double bogeys over the first three rounds.
It has left the players, including the Dane’s who were previously aware of the hole’s potential, in awe of the atmosphere, with roars reverberating around the course.
Home favourite Søren Kjeldsen evocatively described his experience after making a birdie on the 16th hole during the third round.
“Walking up to the green it was like the ground was shaking with the noise and I could feel the goosebumps all over me,” he said. “It was a career highlight, certainly.”
Denmark’s most successful player, Thomas Björn, has also been impressed and believes the hole has made a big impact.
“The 16th could be an iconic hole on this Tour in the future,” he said. “The crowd has been unbelievable, both the numbers and the way they treat people. It’s just been fantastic to see them come out in such big numbers. Everyone involved in this tournament can be very proud.”
Another Dane, Thorbjørn Olesen, added: “I don’t know if I have ever seen anything like that hole. It’s absolutely fantastic. I have been trying hard to make birdies there to please the crowd. It is a great feeling walking up there and having everyone cheering for you.”
In addition to the audible volume out on the course, the 16th hole has also been creating quite a bit of noise on the social networks, with the European Tour’s Twitterati lavishing praise.
Nicolas Colsaerts, who starred for Europe in the Miracle at Medinah, compared the atmosphere to a Ryder Cup or the famous 16th hole at the Phoenix Open.
The Belgian said: “The European Tour has found a new iconic hole, and its only 128 yds long!!”
And despite missing the cut, Englishman David Howell also voiced is support for both the hole and the wider tournament.
He Tweeted: “Best crowds of the year at the Made in Denmark open as predicted. Unbelievable atmosphere. Gutted to be missing out on the weekend fun.”
And Simon Wakefield, who starts the final round three shots off the lead in third place, summed it up nicely on The European Tour's Facebook page by simply stating: "Best atmosphere I've ever witnessed."
Organisers have also added to the atmosphere for the final round by handing out 1,000 rubber birds – named Benny the Birdie, Eddie the Eagle and Andy the Ace – which squeak when squeezed, helping fans to make even more noise.
With nearly 60,000 fans flocking to Himmerland so far and Sunday already a sell-out, Made in Denmark has certainly been a return to remember for The European Tour.