Asked to name the toughest golf course in Europe, you would be way off the mark if you suggested one of the Open Championship venues,
Even The Celtic Manor in Wales or Doonbeg in Ireland can’t compare with the correct answer – nor can Paris National in France, PGA of Catalunya in Spain or Portugal’s Pennina.
The Meland Golf Club near Bergen in Norway is the toughest in Europe – and that’s official.
Bristol-based PGA Design Consulting designed the course in the early 1990s and are proud to announce that it has been given a slope rating – a degree of difficulty – of 151 from its white championship tees. A maximum score of 155 would make it almost unplayable to its par of 73.
The ‘Slope Rating’ system was originally introduced in North America to help evaluate and adjust players’ handicaps as they moved around different States. In Europe, it is administered by National Golf Federations and Unions under guidance and licence from the USGA, in order to make comparisons against scratch for those with official handicaps.
A golf course of standard playing difficulty has a slope rating of 113 – the higher the rating, the more your handicap may be adjusted upwards as a fair reflection of your playing ability on a tough course.
The high rating at Meland reflects not only its length – it’s only 6,200 yards off the back tees - but also the topography of the course, the prevailing weather and the fact that at its first event for professionals, no competitor achieved par. Even off forward tees the sloping rating is 141.
The Norwegian Golf Federation says the main reason for increased difficulty is the mowing, which has significantly reduced the width of fairways. This has also increased the instances of lost balls.
The cost of playing the course, 22 miles north of Bergen, is about £45 per-round. (Tel: 00 47 56 17 46 00).
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