More than a Game

Northern Golf - Frode Hov
Playing golf here is like being in church. You are communing with nature.

Frode Hov

Northern Golf - Frode Hov

Building a golf course in of the world's northernmost populated regions seems like a crazy idea. Thankfully there are 'crazy' people in the world like Frode Hov, the man behind the sensational Lofoten Links.

The last two decades saw numerous world class golf courses being built in remote places far off golf tourism's beaten tracks. Now-famous destinations like Bandon Dunes in Oregon, Cabot Cliffs in Nova Scotia and Barnbougle Dunes down in Tasmania have proved that the mantra "build it and they will come” actually works. Golfers are willing to go the extra mile to play unforgettable golf,and no-one has taken that concept to a more extreme level than Frode Hov.

Located on the Lofoten archipelago at 68° degrees north, Lofoten Links is situated well above the arctic circle. Building a golf course is never an easy task but building the world's most northernly links course is quite a unique feat that took almost a quarter of a century.
For generations, the Frode family called the Lofoten Islands on Norway's Atlantic coast their home. But it took a trip to Scotland from of one of his father's friends to realise that not only the landscape, but also the turf, the flora and the climate during summer felt a lot like home.

"I was still a teenager when my father first contemplated the idea of building a golf course on our land,” says Frode today. "But there were no funds available for such an ambitious project.”

The years went by, but the idea of a golf course - the only one in northern Norway - never went away. In 1992, Frode's father contacted golf course architect, Jeremy Turner, to have a look at the land. Needless to say, he was blown away by its stunning beauty and saw the potential for a golf course unlike any other on the whole planet.

After Tor Hov passed away, Frode decided to follow through on his late father's vision. "In 1997 I managed to get a little bit of funding. So we built a small, six-hole course to prove that a golf course so far north that it can only be played between May 1st until mid-October is possible to maintain.” Frode founded a company to manage the course and a small number of lodges to accommodate traveling golfers on his family's farmland.
The most significant phase in the development of Lofoten Links started in 2011. "Back then we got the money to build a proper 18-hole course so we started right away,” says Frode. Construction of 11 new holes, as well as re-design and modifications of the existing six holes, began. And in 2015, the spectacular Lofoten Links, as it presents itself to golfers today, was opened.

When this Norwegian, marked by the harsh weather of his home island, speaks about the history of his golf course, you soon realise that it was anything but easy to sculpt a golf course from this almost unreal piece of land, not to mention the bureaucratic hurdles.

In Loften Links' first season after opening, Frode was not only immensely proud of his team's accomplishment but also curious of what the future would hold for his baby: "We were excited to see what kind of golfers would come here. We are not a golf destination, after all there is only one golf course here, but every golfer who loves the game should come here and play the course.”
Thanks to spectacular images of the stunning island green on the second hole that were all over the internet and printed in every credible golf magazine, the course became an overnight sensation. For two months of the year, the sun never sets, which gives golfers the unique opportunity to play literally around the clock and gives the concept of a 'daily greenfee' a whole new meaning.
And then there's the Northern Lights. In September, when it gets dark enough during the night, Lofoten Links, thanks to the non-existing light pollution, and its northern facing location, is one of the best places in the world to experience this spectacle of nature.

In 2016, Lofoten Links was ranked the 51st best golf course in Norway. A year later the course climbed to number 20. Since 2018, Lofoten Links has held the number one spot of all the courses in Norway, and it's hard to imagine it will ever lose it.

There is no signature hole on Lofoten Links. There are 18 of them. From the first tee shot - which demands a brave drive over the rocky Atlantic coastline - every golfer that starts their first round here will immediately know that this is going to be a true golfing experience.

If someone asked 50 different golfers that took the trip to Norway what their favorite part of the course was, there could be 50 different answers. Is it the daunting first tee shot? The incredible par-3 second hole? The inland facing and unassuming - but very hard to play - 8th? Or the spectacular 14th fairway flanked be a rock garden on the left and the seemingly endless ocean on the right?

In the end, it doesn't matter, because nobody visits Lofoten Links as a golfer. Visiting is more a spiritual journey than a simple golf trip.

And while travelers from all over the world play every summer on Lofoten Links day-in and day-out, Frode waits behind the counter in the clubhouse, eager to hear what his guests have to say about his creation: "On person said to me that playing golf here is like being in church. You are communing with nature."