Denmark's making its case as the next Great Undiscovered Golf Destination
COPENHAGEN, Denmark - It isn't true that every word in the Danish language starts with the letter k and, by law, must be a minimum of 15 letters and impossible for Americans to pronounce.
It only seems that way.
Actually, English is spoken quite well here in the Oresund region, the geographical area that consists of eastern Denmark, notably Copenhagen, and southern Sweden, notably the region of Skane. Even though it's a second language, most Swedes and Danes skip back and forth between the two languages with ease.
Now, reading street signs is another matter for us Americans.
The Oresund region, linked by the impressive Oresund Bridge, has been promoting its golf product lately, and they've got a pretty easy job of it. Skane is sort of like the Florida of the U.S., where Swedes go for warm weather, though Skane gets much colder than Florida in the winter, obviously.
In any case, Oresund has more than 100 golf courses, all of them within an hour and a half drive. That's a higher density of golf than any other region in Europe, and includes all the types of European courses that you Euro golf nuts have come to expect.
Skane has three coasts - again, just like Florida - and a series of seaside courses can be easily negotiated by car. There are also inland golf courses on the gently rolling countryside, as well as parkland and, as the Europeans call them, heathland and woodland layouts.
Copenhagen alone is worth a visit, with its thousand-year history. Never have I seen so many bicycles on mad, big-city streets or kayaks in canals right smack dab in the heart of the city. By the way, Copenhageners say you can swim in those canals without fear of scarlet fever, dengue fever, jungle fever or any kind of fever. Imagine swimming downtown in an American city.
Golf is the fastest growing sport in Denmark - maybe because of Thomas Bjorn? - and is considered a sort of everyman's sport in Sweden. It doesn't suffer here from an elitist image as it does in the U.S.
The Oresund people claim their courses are open year-round, though that may be PR-speak. Some courses have to wait for the snow to melt to resume play. Still, it's true that the region gets relatively mild weather, though I wouldn't plan a golf trip here outside the months of May through October.
The best part, however, is that the green fees for the area's courses are much cheaper than other European golf hot spots, and hotels are beginning to offer some very competitive packages.
This could very well be the next Great Undiscovered Golf Destination. Maybe it already is.
Few golf communities on the East Coast offer the proximity to natural beauty and to a cool city that you'll find at The Landings on Skidaway Island. You can be staring at a six-foot alligator in a swamp one minute, and be strolling the historic streets of downtown Savannah, Ga. 20 minutes later. "Savannah's a great city, and there are all sorts of things to do there," said Landings resident Mike Werneke, "if you want to leave here."
Course review: Deer Creek at The Landings
Omni Tucson National's Catalina Course would be a good golf course if no PGA Tour events had ever been held here. The fact that there have been more than 30 adds some mystique and aura to the 7,262 yards. You'll have nice green fairways to try and reenact the shots of legends and non-legends past, too.
Who's going to be golf's Al Gore, Chris Baldwin asks in his latest 'On The Spot' column. Who in golf will parlay the plant puffers' global-warming crusade into big appearance fees, self-important speeches and fawning doe-eyed looks from college co-eds? There are certainly a horde of eager candidates, all trying to cash in on what's arguably the greatest money making scheme in golf since the invention of the celebrity golf course architect: The Greening Of Golf.