European Tour Golf Course Primer: Scandinavian Invitation
This week the European Tour heads north to Sweden, just outside Gothenburg. This will be the second playing of this event (being called the “Scandinavian Invitation” this year) at the Hills Golf Club. Therefore, we don’t have a ton of data to go off, so we’ll have to make due with what we learned last year.
Course and Tournament Info
Course: Hills Golf & Sport Club
Greens Grass Type: Bent
Length: 6,865 Yards (Par 70)
Recent Winners: Paul Waring, -14 (2018)
Last year, the course played fairly tough -- with the front nine being especially challenging, playing over a full shot over par. The back nine was where some scoring could be done as it played about 0.75 shots under par.
This can largely be attributed to the yardages. The front played almost 3,900 yards last year, with the back playing only about 3,000 yards. For reference, the BMW Championship this past week at Medinah was one of the longer courses on the PGA Tour this year, but neither side played to 3,900 yards. So this course seems short given the scorecard number, but given the par being only 70 and the brutal length on the front, that is not quite accurate.
One thing to note is that last year, per the European Tour site, the course had “very little and thin rough” due to a hot and dry summer. Even with that the winning score wasn’t super low so if the rough is up a bit this year due to a more typical summer that could make the course a bit harder.
Par 5 18th: At only about 530 yards on the scorecard, this par 5 is very gettable in two and played about a half-stroke under par last year. That said, there is definitely some trouble you can get into at this hole as evidenced by Thomas Aiken last year in the playoff against Waring, the eventual champion. Aiken put his tee ball in the water hazard that is in play for most everybody with a right miss off the tee, then he went for the hero shot to get something up near the green and got caught in some bushes well short of the green on his way to making a bogey.
The fairway slants right-to-left for the tee shot and curls back to the right a bit by the green. The green is a multi-tiered green and has a false front that will spin back any short misses off into the fairway. With this being the only par 5 on the back nine, players will want to take advantage of it, and being the closing hole with both eagle potential and trouble off the tee, we could see some big swings at the top of the leaderboard on the weekend at the closing hole.
Driving Accuracy: Last year, a few players, including Martin Kaymer, talked about the importance of finding fairways. This was reflective of last year’s leaderboard with both Thomas Aiken (2nd) and Maximilian Kieffer (3rd) finishing inside the top-5 in Driving Accuracy. I’d lean more towards accuracy than distance off-the-tee this week even though the course has some longer holes.
Par 3 Scoring: There are five par 3s at the Hills, and all but one of them was amongst the 10 toughest holes last year, with the only “scorable” one being the 173-yard 10th hole, which played 0.09 strokes under par. Waring played the par 3s in -6 and had only one bogey for the week on a par 3. The player who ends up winning this week will have to find his way around these par 3s without many bogeys, obviously, and if they can get a few birdies, they will be gaining on the field. All of the par 3s play in the 170- to 200-yard range, so long-iron players, specifically, will be ones to target.
The two most notable Swedish golfers, Henrik Stenson and Alex Noren, will both be teeing it up this week. Stenson has never won this event. Noren, on the other hand, is a two-time winner of this event (formerly called the Nordea Masters), which he won in 2011 and 2015. Neither of those events were played at the Hills course we will be seeing this week, however.
Another former champion and highest OWGR-ranked player this week, Matthew Fitzpatrick is in the field. He is coming in very hot with a top-five at the WGC in Memphis a few weeks ago and a solid year so far with two runner-up finishes -- though he has zero wins.
As far as course history, there isn’t a lot to glean, obviously, from only one year at this course, but some notable players who played well last year and are in the field this week are Andrea Pavan (T6 last year), Andrew Johnston (T10), and Thomas Detry (T13).