Golf and beer – some things in life are just meant to
go together and few destinations combine these twin
pleasures quite like Copenhagen, one of Scandinavia’s
liveliest and most vibrant cities. With a rich beer culture
and over 30 golf courses within an hour’s drive of the city,
the Danish capital is perfect for a four-day boy’s tour.
Andy Marshall suggests a well-oiled working itinerary
DAY 1: A RIGHT ROYAL WELCOME
Having collected our rental car at Copenhagen airport, a
leisurely 20-minute drive north of the city to Royal
Copenhagen Golf Club, situated in the middle of Dyrehaven
– originally an ancient hunting ground and now a beautiful
nature reserve of open spaces and mature trees – is all that’s
required to get this much-anticipated trip underway. The car
park, somewhat unusually, is situated a few hundred metres
from the course and a short stroll takes us through a savannah-
like landscape of tall bleached grassland dotted with
mature twisted oaks to what is not only the oldest golf club
(1898) in Denmark but in all of Scandinavia.
Royal Copenhagen was the first Danish club (starting in
1945) to run a 72-hole stroke-play tournament and, particularly
in the 1960s, world stars such as Flory van Donck, Guy
Wolstenholme and British Open winners Roberto de Vicenzo
and Peter Thomson all took part. In 1965 the elegant and
popular South African Harold Henning made an impressive
course record of 63. His score of 265 for 72 holes is a tournament
Unchanged since 1928, apart from a little ‘tweaking’ here
and there with the placement of bunkers and trees, the
course is a fairly straightforward affair playing over mildly
rolling terrain with few forced carries and only a couple of
blind landing areas. So highly playable and pleasantly inviting.
The fairway turf is excellent, but the biggest hazard is
the tough, springy, fescue rough, where the best option – if
you can find your ball – is to forget about the green and concentrate
on getting it back on the fairway.
There are more than 2,000 deer (mainly red deer and also
sika deer) in the park, and they roam freely over the fairways
and greens. Indeed, the deer are so abundant that they can
sometimes be a hazard – or provide the line for a tee shot!
Royal Copenhagen wouldn't make it into the world’s top 100
courses, but the setting and the local wildlife more than
make up for that. The place is unique.
After our round, we continue north up the coastal road to
Simon’s Golf Club, in the town of Humlebæk. When you first
hear the name you could be forgiven for thinking that a local
farmer converted some of his fields into a rustic 9-holer. But
Simon’s is anything but; it’s one of the best quality layouts in
the country and in 2003 hosted the first European Tour
event held in Denmark, the Nordic Open, won by Ian Poulter.
A well-struck Tiger Woods’ drive from the comfortable
surroundings of the on-course cottage-style accommodation
are some truly great golfing facilities: a driving range, three
putting greens, a fun 6-hole par-3 course, an indoor training
centre, bistro and pro shop. Most importantly, though, is
the excellent pub – the Albatross Bar – with eight house
beers on tap and a TV screen so large it wouldn’t look out
of place in your local Odeon. Having worked up a decent
thirst, we order up our first traditional Danish brews of what is already promising to be a memorable trip, sink
into the comfy leather armchairs and catch up on some
USPGA tour action.
DAY 2: BRUSHING UP ON THE BEER TRADE
Next morning begins with a hearty breakfast of fruit, bread,
cheese, ham and (several) cups of strong filter coffee – all
enjoyed on the terrace overlooking the course. Simon’s is a
27-hole golf facility, with three nines labelled A, B and C
(creative genius, eh?) that meander their way around a pretty
lake. Simon’s is a leafy, very green course, with some nice
changes in elevation over gently rolling terrain. Though situated
a few miles inland, we can just make out Sweden
across the narrow Oresund Strait from some of the higher
points on the course.
For a diversion from golf we pay an afternoon visit to
nearby Bryggeri Skovlist (Skovlystvej 2, Værløse), a brewpub
set in picturesque woodland, where we meet master brewer
and champion beer taster Casper Møller. “Ten years ago it
was pure pilsner in Denmark with beers such as Carlsberg
and Tuborg dominating the market, but in recent years a
beer revolution has taken place and now there’s more breweries
per capita than anywhere in Europe,” says Casper as he
shows us around. “Although we use the main ingredients
such as malt, hops, water and yeast in our beers, our unique
brewing concept is to utilize natural products from the forest.
For example we experiment with maple syrup, birch sap
and woodruff, a forest plant that imparts a beautiful spicy
aromatic flavour to our brews.”
Later, back at the Albatross Bar, we get chatting to
Simon’s resident professional, Englishman James Petts who
coaches Danish golf pro Søren Hansen who also happens to be a member of the club. “I had the pleasure of being Søren’s
bagman in the par-3 tournament at the Masters in 2008,”
says James. “He’s developed into one of the finest players in
Europe – his ball striking is crisper than a frosty morning in
December.” James could fill a library with his yarns and
keeps us nicely entertained all evening.
DAY 3: TIME FOR SOME SERIOUS EXERCISE
Now just getting into our stride (drinking, not golf), we
decide to take a day off from the greens to really concentrate
on the ambers, reds, browns and blacks of Danish beer culture.
By mid-morning we’re back in Copenhagen wandering
up a cobbled street towards four giant Bornholm granite elephants
(Elephant Gates) that guard the grounds of the world famous
Carlsberg Brewery founded in 1847.
“Don’t forget your tickets for some complimentary beers,”
says the cheery attendant as we begin a self-guided tour of
interactive displays and exhibits that take you through the
history of beer production in these parts. Funny the things
you learn, too. It turns out that Danish beer dates even further
back than we imagined, after a girl who was discovered
in a peat bog clutching a jug of well-aged brew was carbon dated
to 1370 BC.
En-route to our final golfing destination we pass the
world’s largest collection of beer bottles (17,592 at the time
of writing), a steam engine that revolutionised early industrial
beer production and antique copper vats used in the brewing
process. Our tour ends at the second floor of the Jacobsen
Brewhouse where we order a couple of Carls Specials, a beautiful
dark malt smoother than Tiger’s putting stroke.
Feeling noticeably heady after the beers we stroll back
towards the city centre and the picturesque Nyhavn district
with its showcase 17th canal, originally engineered to allow
traders to bring their wares into the very heart of the city. It
soon established itself as the place where returning sailors
indulged themselves in the numerous bars, brothels and tattoo
parlours. On this particular afternoon, traditional sailing
craft crowd the waterway, adding to the salty atmosphere
among the colourful gabled townhouses. People are out in
numbers soaking up late August sunshine and enjoying a
drink at the many pavement cafes, bars and restaurants.
A short walk from the Nyhavn district is the beginning of
Strøget, billed as the world's longest pedestrian street and
one – you’ll not be surprised to discover – that boasts several
good watering holes. Although many of the more cosmopolitan-
style cafes serve beer and play a leading role in the
social scene of Copenhageners, we are more interested in
checking out traditional Danish taverns.
A good example is the Hvide & Lam (Kultorvet 5), and,
entering via a small doorway, you are engulfed in the warm
glow of a bar oozing with character. There’s a good mix of
locals and travellers and, as an added bonus, a three-piece
jazz band are in full flow in the corner by the billiard table.
As if by now you need any other tips on good traditional
watering holes worth checking out, we’re told Copenhagen’s
oldest – Hviids Vinstue, founded in 1723 (Kongens Nytorv
19) – the Lord Nelson (Hyskenstræde 9) and Charlie’s Bar
(Pilestræde 33) are all serious haunts for beer lovers.
The Nørrebro Bryghus (Ryesgade 3) is a combined microbrewery,
bar and restaurant located in a former metal goods
factory – and a dream come true for Master Brewer Anders
Kissmeyer, who had a vision to help rejuvenate Danish beer
culture. “The inspiration for our restaurant came from the
American brewpubs, where food and beer is enjoyed in an
informal atmosphere amidst brewing kettles and tanks,” he
tells us. “Here the dishes are created around the beers we
brew and vice versa. The beer is a primary source of inspiration
for our head chef and it is used as both ingredients, seasoning
and finally in the glass accompanying the food.”
Reserve the Brewer’s Table for a special seven-course gourmet
feast served with Nørrebro’s own hand-crafted brews
and selected bottled beers. Back in the city centre is another
top-notch microbrewery, the Vesterbro Bryghus
(Vesterbrogade 2B), where fine beers including stout brewed
on the premises can all be sampled in 10cl glasses for €5.
DAY FORE!: “TIME, GENTLEMEN!”
On our last day we drive about 35 minutes southwest of
Copenhagen towards Ledreborg Allé, to check out Nick
Faldo’s first Scandinavian course design, Ledreborg Palace
Golf. Opened in 2007, the 18-hole championship-standard
course is styled as an ‘inland links’ and weaves its way
through the sumptuous grounds that border 18th century
Ledreborg Palace, a landmark still home to an aristocratic
Danish family. For Faldo, the process of bringing the course
to life was an interesting one and demanded a keen sensitivity
towards a site that is steeped in history. With ancient burial
grounds and several points of archaeological interest, the
Faldo team worked with a ‘do not disturb’ approach.
“The natural contours of the property here required nothing
more than subtle sculpting to produce what is a highly
engaging round of golf,” says Sir Nick. “The design blends in
comfortably into the existing landscape – in fact, I would say
it was more a case of ‘finding’ the course than creating it.”
For those of you with the appetite for more golf, we were
told by several Danish golfers that the Skjoldenæsholm Golf
Center at Jystrup – which offers two 18-holes courses, both
situated in a historic atmosphere around Skjoldenæsholm
Manor – are highly rated. The more recent of the two was
designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr, and is a top quality
risk/reward layout set within a forest.
Sounded terrific. For us, there was just time for another
round... and it didn’t involve golf clubs. ‘Skol!
Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine