Just south of Oslo, Norway, Holtsmark Golf Club stands as one of this Scandinavian nation's first truly public golf courses. Robert Trent Jones II designed a challenging and dramatic layout that some are describing as "The Prince Course of Norway" because the golf holes play along ridgelines and adjacent to or across a series of steep ravines-much as they do at our world-renowned Prince Course in Hawaii.
The well-wooded site-with views of distant mountains-required selective clearing to frame the holes. Drainage concerns also presented challenges; the site was characterized by heavy clay soil and well-defined drainage corridors. We met these challenges-and created the strategy and drama of the course-by routing holes along the ridge tops. We also augmented the soil with a sandy mixture and planted a hardy rye/bluegrass mix that works well in this northern climate.
The course is further characterized by five very strong, dramatic par threes. Number five, for example, plays to a green perched atop a peninsula; the front, right, and back sides fall off into deep ravines. The huge putting surface is reachable by a bump-and-run shot that avoids a well-placed bunker, or via an aerial attack. In honor of Robert Trent Jones, Sr., we devised an extra, far-back "runway" tee here that requires a tee-shot upwards of 260 yards.
RTJ II crafted tightly mowed fairway collection areas near the green surrounds at Holtsmark to provide opportunities for creative short-game artistry. Just as the golf course itself is open to everyone, players can be equally democratic in deciding between a putter, eight-iron, sand wedge, or three wood for some of the tricky pitches and chips. The greens themselves are a throwback to the classic putting surfaces of the 1920s. We designed them with many compartments, elevation changes, and disappearing transitions, making reading the greens as challenging as reaching some of them.