The old adage says ‘when one door closes, another one opens’, and nothing could be truer for the Challenge Tour this week, which visits Royal Golf Club for the inaugural Crowne Plaza Copenhagen Challenge.
When it became clear that Poggio dei Medici Golf Club would be unable to host the Mugello Tuscany Open – scheduled for this week – because of the severe drought that has ravaged Italy this summer, it looked as though the penultimate event on the Challenge Tour schedule would have to be cancelled.
However, in stepped Royal Golf Club in the nick of time, not only ensuring there would still be a tournament, but revealing itself to be a gem of a venue. Despite having less than three weeks to prepare, it promises to be one of the most well-organised tournaments and enjoyable destinations of the season.
Morten Sundberg, CEO of Royal Golf Club, said: “We saw an opportunity to help the Challenge Tour, and it would have been such a shame if the second-last tournament of the year had to be cancelled.
“There are a few Danish players doing very well this season, and we thought it was important that there was a tournament this week for sporting reasons and to make it fair to those trying to make the top 20 or top 45 in the Rankings.
“Soren Juul is our Sales Manager here at Royal Golf Club and he used to play on the Challenge Tour and knows Alain de Soultrait, the Challenge Tour Director, so he got in touch. I also do business with a guy who works for Crowne Plaza, so we were able to get them on board as title sponsors and as the official hotel for staff and players.
“The course here is made for big tournaments so it’s very exciting, and we hope this is only the start.”
Three weeks might seem a very short time to plan and organise a tournament of this level, but Sundberg explained that many aspects simply fell into place.
“We instructed our head greenkeeper to start work on the course immediately, but it was already in very good condition and didn’t need a huge amount of work,” he said.
“Last year we held a big tournament with lots of famous people, so we got in touch with all the volunteers who had helped at that, and most of them were keen to do this one as well. So it was a tried and tested system.
“The infrastructure is all in place. We have another course also very close to the city centre so we were able to move all our bookings there for this week. Everyone is just very happy and excited to have this tournament here and I think we will have quite a few people watching on Sunday, especially as we are offering free entry to the public.”
Royal Golf Club fully opened last year, having been in the pipeline for more than a decade. The state-of-the-art clubhouse has been designed as ‘a little house on the hill’ in keeping with its surroundings, which is a protected area, and it boasts a huge fitness centre and restaurant in addition to top class facilities.
“The idea to have a golf course here came about in 1999 but it took five and a half years to get the planning permission,” said Sundberg. “The driving range opened in 2006, nine holes in 2008, 18 holes in 2010 and the clubhouse last year.
“It is a typical Danish design, very stylish and minimalistic. We like to think we have the best location for a golf club in the world. We say we are a nine iron away from the airport and a nine iron to the Metro, which gets you to the centre of Copenhagen in seven minutes.
“It’s a fantastic location and the area is very up-and-coming. Many multi-national companies are basing their Scandinavian headquarters here and when it is all completed there will be 80,000 people working here and 25,000 people living here.
“And, most important, the golf course is superb. We are sure it will be an excellent week.”