I have written this description of my favorite golf course in Iceland for my good friends Sigurjon and Snaedis in order to be used on their website for KALDBAKS-KOT, COTTAGES. If you are so fortunate to be their guest, I strongly recommend that you take a look and if you are a golfer, play this wonderful course.
The golf club was founded in 1967. The same year handful of members started building the course. Later, the famous Swedish golf architect, Nils Skold, came with suggestions about the course design and slowly the course has evolved to the marvelous pearl it is today.
Katlavollur was my first home course and I can truly say it took me by the heart from the first day I set my foot there. The course is unique and picturesque, always impressive and inspiring in all kinds of weather. It lies in rugged terrain of old farming area, stony hills, wild vegetation and every year increasing plantation of trees. The river, Thorvaldstadara, which is a key feature in both scene and the play, comes more and less in play on 6 holes on this 9-hole course.
The views from the course are magnificent, the mountain, Husavikurfjall to the east, the wilderness of Kinnarfjoll to the west and in the north the islands, Grimsey and Flatey seem to float in the endless Arctic Ocean.
The course itself, despite being only 9 holes and relatively short (2572 m), is very challenging and has a CR/slope ratio of 70,4/138 from the men’s tees. Every hole has its charm and can easily pick your pockets without further notice. The quality of the greens, fairways and teeing areas has improved every year with better equipment and education of green keepers, now ranking among the best in Iceland.
Here I am going to give a description of the course from my own personal point of view. Being an average player with a handicap of 10 I hope it will come to use for most golfers. The description is based on playing from the men´s tees.
Hole 1/par 4 - Von: yellow tees 263m., red tees 198 m.. Hcp 17/18
The Icelandic name for the first hole is Von which translates to English as Hope and surely it can be said that this is one of the easier holes on the course, but beware, there are dangers luring at every footstep as everywhere on this course. Firstly the drive has to carry the river (approx. 110 m.), usually not a difficult task but the rough on both sides of the fairway can be tough. For the second shot it is better to be on the right side on the fairway, if you are on the left side the ball has to carry intimidating stones and rocks on the left side of the green. The green is very good and holds very nasty hole location if the green keeper is in that mood. To summarize, a beautiful starting hole with fine par opportunities, often filling your heart with good hopes for the day.
Hole 2/par 4 - Katla: yellow tees 363m., red tees 306 m.. Hcp 7/8
If the first hole plays easy, that can surely not be said of this one. From the tee with a great view to the south it surely does not look very difficult. But beware, firstly the tee shot must be on the fairway, the rough is often very difficult, especially late in the season. Trees and bushes on both sides can lead to penalties or worse, a lost ball. The second shot must carry the river and if you are a long hitter the green is reachable. The approach to the elevated green is difficult as it is rather shallow, more often than not the balls rolls over it often ending in difficult lies. Because of the slope it is often safer to aim at the right side of the green.
Hole 3/par 3 - Kolbrun: yellow tees 133m., red tees 133 m.. Hcp 9/10
Wonderful par 3 hole that is so tricky that it put fears into breast of the most hardened professionals. The tee is in front of the clubhouse (putting extra pressure on you!) and bunkers, and the river of course, protects the downhill green! The green is very special, it is two tiered and slopes towards the river so generally it is wise to be on the shorter side.
Hole 4/par 5 - Lautin: yellow tees 436m., red tees 424 m.. Hcp _
I dare to say that this is one of the most (in) famous golf holes in Iceland. Many consider it as the hardest hole on the course (based on their own experience and two digit scores) but for home golfers it is not. You simply have to respect the hole and play within your limits. The second (or third) shot is the difficult one. It is blind and must carry a stony ridge into a very narrow valley with sharp right dogleg. If you succeed the approach shot is to an elevated green. Beware of this green, it is usually very fast and if you have to chip or put downhill, you can easily end up in the valley again.
Hole 5/par 3 - Spraenugil: yellow tees 153m., red tees 122 m.. Hcp 13/14
Beautifully bowl shaped par 3, which is easy if you are a straight shooter. If you are not there is plenty of trouble on both sides consisting of rocks and small bushes and the Alaska lupine, which comes more and more into play each year. In late summer another distraction comes into play here and elsewhere on the course, the wild blueberries!!!
Hole 6/par 4 - Langbrok: yellow tees 383m., red tees 337 m.. Hcp _
The toughest hole on the course, no doubt about it. It is very long, uphill all the way and more often than not the wind is blowing against you. Only the longest hitters can hope for reaching the green in two, for the rest of us this hole plays like a par five and bogey is not a bad score. The green is very big making club selection in the approach shot very important regarding to pin placement.
Hole 7/par 4 - Nof: yellow tees 266m., red tees 236 m.. Hcp 15/16
Pretty straightforward short par four but it is better to be careful. The rough on the left side is the worst side to be in after the tee shot. If weather is clear Grimsey can be seen from the tee and is a good spot to aim at. The approach to the green is difficult and balls tend to roll over even if your ball lands in front of it. Beware of the bunker on the right side of the green. This is a hole that is usually very fun to play, pars or even birdies are not uncommon.
Hole 8/par 4 - Olina: yellow tees 309m., red tees 309 m.. Hcp 5/6
A very beautiful hole, my favorite on this course. It is said that an old lady who passed away many years ago had here sheep here and the hole is named after her. As the landing area for the tee shot is very narrow club choice is very important. Here the river comes again into play and you risk hitting into it with the driver especially if there is downwind. Beware of the hidden ditch on the left side of the fairway (it is not marked as an hazard!). The hole has a slight left dogleg. The green is situated deep in a canyon with a pond guarding it on the right side. It is two tiered and pin placement on the lower right side are very tricky. The safe approach is to the left side of the green even if the pin is placed on the right tier – but what is the fun of that!?
Hole 9/par 4 - Trod: yellow tees 266m., red tees 213m.. Hcp 11/12<BR>
A good finishing hole with plenty of intrigues. The tee shot is “the slicers nightmare” because of the earlier mentioned river! Rough and bushes on the left side are no paradise either. At last the approach to the small-elevated green is very difficult. It holds balls very badly and the worst possible result is to go over the green making it very difficult to get to the pin. Probably it is the wisest choice to land the ball slightly in front of the green on the right side thereby avoiding a difficult bunker to the left. Par is always good here, more often than not the deciding score in dramatic ending of tournaments.
Dr Sigurdur V. Gudjonssonback to map page
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