Players designing golf courses started from the game’s earliest years. I mean, who else would have taken land only fit for sheep and turn it into a golf course? Only people who loved the game, like Christian Lundin, golf course designer.
When Bobby Jones gave his thoughts to Allistir MacKenzie could be the beginning of the player/course designer relationship. Later, Jack, Arnie and Gary started their own golf design companies, riding on the name recognition of their playing accomplishments. All of those icons hired designers to execute their ideas.
It’s now commonplace for professional players to translate their playing experiences into golf courses. While the trophies gather dust on the shelves, to design a golf facility that people will enjoy for decades is very appealing. Faldo, Seve, Sorenstam and Woods all have designs in place around the world.
The latest player to enter this enterprise is the Swedish professional , Henrik Stenson. Following in the footsteps of fellow Swede and Ryder Cup player, Pierre Fulke, Stenson wants to design golf courses highlighting his experiences as a player into vision. Stenson wants to incorporate risk and reward into his golf courses, something he likes as a player. Not surprisingly, Henrik wants a simple design, yet each hole to have its own character. It must be enjoyable for all levels of golfers. While the better golfer can challenge the risk to get his reward, the higher handicap player has a safer route to the hole that would only drop a shot to par.
Does the professional golfer put down his clubs and take up a protractor? He could if he has some degrees in architectural design. So, he finds a designer who is a kindred spirit, someone who believes in the same vision for golf courses as he does. In Henrik’s case, he turned to the Swedish designer, Christian Lundin, of the firm reGolf.
Growing up in the Swedish area known as Småland, Christian Lundin was devoted to soccer, as are most boys in Sweden. He loved to play all sports but soccer was his favorite and he became pretty good, despite his dislike of practice. A serious injury forced him to hang up his soccer boots. His doctor suggested he take up golf, saying it was a game Christian could play for the rest of his life.
Christian took to golf but his dislike of practice remained. However, he began to take interest in other aspects of golf. Scoring became less important as Christian began to understand the strategy and how landscaping of the golf courses helped form that strategy. The deeper he delved into this side of golf the more he became interested.
Christian speaks his English with an Irish lilt reflecting the years of study in Ireland for golf course design. Christian has over twelve years experience in the golf business, working as a greenskeeper prior to finding his calling as a designer. Christian studied the great links of Ireland while with Jeff Howes Golf Design. Christian returned to his native Sweden, to help evolve the face of Scandinavian golf. Lundin is an Associate Member of the European Institute of
Golf Course Architects.
Like any artist, Christian has his influences. Masters like MacKenzie, Ross and H.S. Colt. Lundin is particularly influenced by Tom Simpson, who was an eccentric character, almost certainly a little crazy. Simpson was one of the breed of gentleman amateur architects as opposed to a golf professional turned designer. He was a fervent believer that golf should be an intellectual battle and not a physical one.
Christian was impressed early by a particular quote by Simpson. Simpson said that in designing a course, “The green is the star and the fairway is the comet’s tail.” Christian recalled, “That struck a chord with me and I find myself designing golf holes from the green back to the tee.”
Some of Christian’s favorite courses are, to no surprise, the links courses of Ireland. Some of those courses are County Louth near Dublin, Ballybunion near Kerry and Carne, located in a wild dune area on the tip of the Mullet Peninsula in County Mayo.
The question is, how did Christian meet Henrik Stenson? It seems that Christian went to the PGA Show in Orlando. I’ll let Christian take it from here: “I went with a friend who was a good friend of Stenson. My friend called Henrik to say hello and Henrik invited the both of us over to his house. The conversation wandered all over the subject of golf, but when we talked about golf courses we liked and their designs, Henrik and I were pretty much in sync. As we left, he said let’s get together again.”
Linden didn’t here from Stenson for the rest of the golf season. One day the phone rang and Henrik was on the other end saying that he would like to see Christian. “We met again and agreed we should do something together.”
Christian had put in a bid to rebuild some bunkers at Österåkers GK, outside of Stockholm. Then, the club changed course and decided for a complete redeisgn. Another designer nearly received the contract when Henrik and Christian asked if they might bid? After a meeting with Österåkers principles, the duo were awarded the contract.
From now until 2021, when the final phase will be complete at Österåkers, Henrik Stenson Design will be working on the modernization of already one of Stockholm’s premier golf clubs. While Henrik Stenson himself will be deeply involved with the project, it will be Christian Lundin that will turn Henrik Stenson’s ideas into a golf course.
Maybe I should reserve a tee time, you think?