New course key to Iceland city's rebound

Site of the Siglufjordur Golf Club
The Siglufjordur Golf Club will be built just below the Arctic Circle on Iceland's north coast.

Series: Golf Buzz

Published: Saturday, January 12, 2013 | 9:17 p.m.

The temperature is dropping like a rock across much of the country this weekend, so I thought it was the perfect time to tell you about a new golf course being built on the north coast of Iceland.

Under construction now, the Siglufjordur Golf Club is just below the Arctic Circle and is so far north that the sun never sets in the summer – instead, it barely touches the horizon before beginning to rise again. According to a report in Golf Course Architecture, the golf facility is part of a series of additions and improvements to the town of Siglufjordur that also includes a ski resort and fishing destination.

Fishing is a big deal in Siglufjordur. How big, you ask? Well, Siglufjordur is the home of Iceland's renowned Herring Era Museum, which commemorates the town's golden years when it was Iceland's commercial capital. The Herring Era ended in 1968 when the herring were completely fished out, and the city shrunk to its current populaton of about 1,200.

Now, however, golf is helping Siglufjordur rebound. The new layout, designed by Iceland-born course architect Edwin Roald, is scheduled to open in the summer of 2015, and is expected to be the centerpiece of an all-round outdoor recreational haven in an abandoned gravel quarry. When the new course opens, in fact, an existing 40-year-old nine-hole course will be abandoned.

The new Roald layout will occupy a part of the gravel quarry, which lies at the intersection of the Holsa and Leyningsa rivers, and its construction will include restoration of aquatic ecosystems – especially habitats for sea-run Arctic char – that were damaged during the years of gravel extraction from the river bed. Other parts of the course will meander in and out of a mature pine and spruce plantation.

The course also will include a network of public walkways and bridle paths that will complement the town's existing path system and link to a number of attractions and landmarks, the oldest of which are historic ruins that date back to the year 1400. Their preservation will be included in the golf course management program.

A final note: Avid golfers might recognize Roald's name -- for a decade or so, he has been redesigning parts of the course at Iceland's Akureyri Golf Club. That club has long been the home of the famed Arctic Open, an annual golf and social affair in which players from around the globe gather at the height of the summer to compete in the overnight hours when the sun never sets.