When I ask about Estonia for many of us not a golf destination comes to our mind, but rather a country with well-preserved medieval cities. However if I wish to highlight one Estonian golf club then it would be Estonian Golf & Country Club. The club is part the European Tour Properties network (one of only 10 European PGA Tour Courses in Europe).
Currently Estonian Golf & Country Club offers its golfers a 9- hole links-type Stone Course and a real 18-hole championship-style Sea Course. As part of a major development program (program includes: a 150-room hotel in three phases and develop leisure amenities including a spa and tennis academy.) that aims to turn Estonian Golf & Country Club to a family leisure resort and spa, Annika Sörenstam was asked to design a new 18-hole course. This will be her first European golf course to design.
The new 18-hole course will replace the existing 9-hole Stone Course and will complement the championship See Course. The See Course hested in 2011 the European qualifying for the Omega Mission Hills World Cup. Mission Hills was also designed by Annika Sörenstam.
My remarks on this development project:
- It is really smart to focus on family instead of individuals since it can help keep existing club members and others to play golf plus to endear other family members with the game. How will they engage wives and kids to stay longer in the golf club? To build spa and tennis academy (it is in the development plan) will might not be enough.
- It is questionable if the 2 18-hole courses will be enough to attract sufficient number of foreign golfers. The proximity of Helsinki (70-80 km from Tallinn) is beneficial, although Hanno Kross (Chief Executive of Estonian Golf & Country Club) is expecting more Swedish golfers (it takes 55 minute flight to get to Estonia) to come over.
- Estonian Golf & Country Club will have to compete with Spanish and Portuguese golf courses to attract Scandinavian golfers.
- Annika Sörenstam is a strong brand name. However we still think about her as a golfer than a golf architect and designer. The Estonian Golf & Country Club is her 6th golf course design.