Following their two medals at the European Golf Team Championships, we take a look at Iceland and their passion for golf, and why the sport growing in such a small nation.
Putting golf on the map
Iceland is a small country where football is the number one sport following the football team’s success at the 2016 UEFA European Championships, where they made their debut at the tournament before bowing out in the quarter-final after beating England 2-1 in the round of 16.
Golf is the country’s second most popular sport, and after taking the inaugural gold medal in the European Golf Team Championships Mixed Team event, Valdis Thora Jonsdottir is hoping their success will spur Icelanders to pick up a set of clubs.
“It’s the second biggest sport in Iceland,” she said. “Hopefully our victory will encourage kids to pick up golf. Hopefully the news back in Iceland will give us some exposure and show how well we played.”
Golf in the snow
Green golf courses are not something which comes to mind when you think of Iceland. Waterfalls, glaciers, mountains, but not golf courses.
That may be due to the short golf season which takes place on the island. From May to September Icelandic golfers expect to be out on the course and given the 24 hours of sunlight in the summer they could be playing all day.
Only in Iceland
You tee off between 4pm and 12.50am. Your playing partner could be a local fisherman or a professional player. You play two rounds of stableford golf. This is the Arctic Open.
The international event has been played since 1986 and takes place at the second-most northern 18-hole course in the world – Akureyri Golf Club.
Open to amateurs and professionals, players travel from around the world to compete over two days in the stableford tournament, which also includes a team tournament as well. Prizes are awarded for best scratch score, best ladies score and best senior (over-55s) score, while the Arctic Open champion is the player with the lowest score.
The tournament gets under way in June each year, hence, the opportunity to tee off in the early hours of the morning.
The oldest club
Reykjavik Golf Club boasts the title of Iceland’s oldest golf club, after it was established in 1934. It is also the largest club in Iceland with two courses – the Grafarholtsvöllur, an 18-hole course, and Korpúlfsstaðir, a 27-hole course.
The club was originally called ‘Golf Club of Iceland’ before more clubs were established and it changed its name.
Prince Charles and Alice Cooper are a few of the famous faces to have played at the picturesque layout.