Playing Golf Under the Midnight Sun: A Nordic Challenge
In the heart of Norway’s northern regions lies a golf course like no other. Tromsø golf club, situated approximately 217 miles north of the Arctic Circle, holds the title for being the world’s northernmost 18-hole golf course. But its unique location presents both challenges and spectacular experiences for avid golfers.
With a population exceeding 70,000 people, Tromsø offers a relatively short golf season due to its snowy winters. The city’s course remains closed during these winter months when snow accumulates up to an impressive depth of 4.6 feet (140cm). It typically shuts down in March and reopens on June 17th before closing again on October 5th.
The club faces an incredible task each year as they hurriedly clear fairways from layers of snow and ice while completely reseeding the entire course. General manager Bjorn Sonsteby finds himself taking on various responsibilities beyond his typical role as he strives to prepare for opening day.
“It’s a very special job,” explains Sonsteby. “I do most things by myself because I’m employed here, but luckily we have a supportive board and many enthusiastic volunteers who help out.”
Despite their efforts, nature often dictates when it is safe to open for play each year. Members eagerly inquire about potential opening dates starting as early as March but are met with uncertainty due to unpredictable weather conditions.
After a mere 110 days of outdoor play, golf enthusiasts return to the virtual world of simulators. However, what this short season lacks in duration, it more than makes up for through its breathtaking surroundings.
Tromsø golf club is nestled at the foot of the magnificent Lyngen Alps and offers panoramic views of snow-capped peaks reflected in nearby Ullsfjorden fjord. As players navigate their way across the course, they may encounter reindeer grazing on fairways or marvel at rare sightings such as brown bears roaming in the hilly regions surrounding the borders.
Yet it’s not just terrestrial wonders that make Tromsø stand out; it’s also a golfer’s paradise when gazing upwards. In summer months leading up to late July, players can experience 24-hour golfing under the enchanting glow of the midnight sun—a phenomenon unique to locations north of the Arctic Circle.
In September onwards between 6pm and 2am, visitors are treated to an entirely different spectacle—the mesmerizing Aurora Borealis dancing across Norway’s night sky. Located at northern lights oval epicenter, Tromsø provides one of nature’s most dazzling light shows for those lucky enough to witness it.
This extraordinary experience has fueled a growing appetite for golf among locals and drawn increased interest from tourists alike. Tromsø Golf Club added an impressive 65 new members out of their total membership count of 470 this year alone—an encouraging sign according to Sonsteby who appreciates seeing more young people taking up the sport:
“It’s growing…and with lots of young people too—we love that! You’re outside a lot while playing—it involves walking around 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) each time—so you also get good physical conditioning!”
While Norway’s golf scene flourishes, one name stands out as a driving force behind the sport’s recent surge in popularity: Viktor Hovland.
Born in Oslo and at just 26 years old, Hovland has rapidly ascended to become one of golf’s elite players. His stellar performance in 2023 includes three PGA Tour wins, catapulting him into the spotlight and inspiring aspiring golfers across the country.