Sune Linde – 1924 – 2015

One of Sweden’s leading course architects, Sune Linde, died of complications following surgery last week. Mr. Linde was 90 years old.

Sune Linde in 2005 Photo: K-G Z FougstedtSune Linde was one of Sweden’s great course architects, designing fifty Swedish golf courses. His designs are some of Sweden’s best golf courses, Frösåkers GK, Forsgårdens GK, Arlandastad Golf Club and his home club, Nyköping GK. He designed over 50 of Sweden’s golf courses and, today, thousands of Swedish golfers enjoy playing on his visions.

In the early 50s, Sune Linde met architect Nils Skold and he designed his first golf course, Ärila, with Skold. The Ärila club changed its name to Nyköping GK. Nyköping was Linde’s home course, where the Club hosts an annual event named the Sune Linde Cup.

” Sune was a great Nykoping figure and one of Sweden’s major architects. He will be missed at the club. He was very active right until a few years ago because of problems with his eyes,” said Nyköping Club Manager, Gary Cosford.

Sune Linde’s architectural signature is following the natural terrain and using low-key, subtle brush strokes on Nature’s palette. His golf courses seem undisturbed, looking as a natural extension of their environment. I wrote in the Swedish Golf Experience that the courses in Sweden “…look like the wind, snow and ice designed the golf courses over eons and the designer would put the green into the only location he could.”

In 1978, Sune Linde received the Swedish Golf Federation Silver Award given to a “… person who performed or are still performing work for Swedish golf in their district and or club facility. ”

Swedish Golf Online contacted some of Sweden’s leading golf architects to get their thoughts on Sune Linde, the man and his designs.

Tommy Nordstrom designed the “new” course (built in 1989) at Båstad and one of my favorites, the feral Degeberga-Widtsköfle GK. He was a colleague of Sune. “We have been members in the FSGA (Society of Swedish Golf Course Architects) since 1988. From 1985 to 1995, when many courses were built in Sweden, we had a lot of meetings and made many study trips to the fine courses in Great Britain, Ireland, Spain and France. We have the same favorite courses in Scotland, Muirfield and the Old Course.”

As to Sune the man, Tommy remembered, “I found Sune a very nice man, a gentleman who always took part in discussions about golf course architecture. It was very interesting to talk with Sune. He belonged to the classic designers, as most of the Swedish designers are, where nature is important. He believed the golf course should be created in a way that it looked like it had been there forever.”

Tommy continued, “I remember that I was very impressed by his first design, Ärila, in Nyköping, We played it during a meeting there in 1985. It was very natural and is an interesting course to play. He also did a very fine job with Söderslätts Golf Course. From a totally flat and dull farmland he created a very fine course, well adapted to the farmland landscape, a good job. He made many fine courses, I think his own favorite was Kallfors GK that I also like very much. Another course, which I think many tour golfers like, is Frösåker. He designed one course, Kungsbacka, where they have played European Tour event.”

Pierre Fulke played fifteen years on the European professional tours and was a member of the winning European Ryder Cup team in 2002. Since his retirement he has been busy designing golf courses. Three of Sweden’s best golf courses, Ombergs (his first), Grönhögens and Visby have all been shaped by Pierre.

Pierre met with Sune only a few times, but when he did he found the man, “…funny, witty, just a fun guy to be around. I really enjoyed him as a person.” To illustrate what he meant, Pierre told a story of he and Sune driving around on one of Sune’s golf courses in a golf cart. They came to one hole where the green is perched on a hill, all but hidden from the fairway.

Pierre tells the story. ” We began the climb up the hill in the golf cart and as we go up, the hill gets steeper. It get to such a state that now I’m wondering if the cart is going to reach the top. Finally, we reach the top and I’m looking at a tiny green. I say to myself this is a really poorly designed hole. I couldn’t believe that Sune had done this. So, I ask him, “Sune, what is with this hole. What were you thinking?”

With a twinkle in his eye, Sure says to me, “Pierre, I always want to have one hole on a course that people will talk about-even if it’s a bad hole.”

We will have more recollections from fellow architects in the next edition.