Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Snow golf: Driving off piste under the Northern Lights

By Matthew Knight, CNN
January 17, 2014 -- Updated 1119 GMT (1919 HKT)
Golfers in search of an alternative winter break might want to consider a trip to Swedish Lapland, where they can play snow golf in the picturesque surroundings of the<a href='http://en.bjorkliden.com/' target='_blank'> Björkliden mountain resort</a>. Golfers in search of an alternative winter break might want to consider a trip to Swedish Lapland, where they can play snow golf in the picturesque surroundings of the Björkliden mountain resort.
HIDE CAPTION
Teeing off inside the Arctic Circle
Chilling out
Night vision
Glowing reputation
Spectacular skies
Lap of luxury
Golf in Greenland
Mountain drive
High flyers
Swinging into action
Champagne on ice
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Ski resort in Swedish Lapland offers chance to play snow golf
  • Visitors can tee off during the day or at night on the nine-hole course in Börkliden
  • Intrepid night golfers can experience thrill of playing under the Northern Lights
  • Snow golf is proving popular across Europe, especially Switzerland

Follow us at @WorldSportCNN and like us on Facebook

(CNN) -- The thought of it is enough to make fair-weather golfers shudder in horror.

But for hardier sporting souls, a sub-zero round in the Arctic snow could be the perfect off-piste adventure this winter.

Welcome to a world where greens are "whites," where snowplows -- not mowers -- groom fairways, and players swap snazzy pants and Pringle sweaters for ski jackets and mittens.

Like normal golf, the goal remains frustratingly simple and the rules are largely the same as they are on grass. But the obstacles are somewhat different as players battle a strange playing surface and the cold.

At Björkliden, a ski resort in Swedish Lapland which started offering snow golf last year, players can expect a warm welcome but a decidedly chilly round.

Snow training for Masters
Rio's Olympic golf course

"We are 250 kilometers to the north of the Arctic Circle. It can be anything from zero degrees Celsius down to -25, but usually the average is around -10," says Merja Bergwall, marketing and sales manager for Lapland Resorts, the company which manages Björkliden's facilities.

Thin a ball at those temperatures and your poor hands may never recover. But for most the experience is a happy one, Bergwall says, with players enjoying clean, crisp air under frequently blue skies while mastering the art of driving, chipping and putting on snow and ice.

Björkliden's winter golfers tread the same path as summer guests, playing the route of a long-established grass course beneath.

"Summer golf has been here since the 1930s, but we wanted to do something for the wintertime," explains Bergwall.

"We have nine holes and we use snowplows that we usually use on the slopes (to smooth the course)."

Visitors pay 350 Swedish Krona (around $50) for a round, which includes club hire and balls.

Tee times after dark are also available thanks to glowing golf balls -- and night golf also lets players witness one of nature's most magnificent spectacles up close.

Golf returns to the Olympics
90-year-old golfer still going strong

"It's very, very magical if you catch the Northern Lights. We are one of the best places in the world to watch them," Bergwall says.

The Aurora Borealis can be seen frequently in Swedish Lapland during the winter, but sadly the opportunities to get stuck into snow golf are more limited -- the course is only open for three weeks in March.

"We want to keep the 'whites' in the right condition to ensure a good standard of play," says Bergwall.

Björkliden joins a long list of European destinations which host snow golf events.

Engadin Golf Club in St. Moritz, Switzerland will welcome entrants to the 35th Snow Golf Cup later this month, and in March patrons of the annual Boerl and Kroff Snow Golf tournament will reconvene on Wispile mountain in Gstaad.

Other annual events are scheduled to take place in France and Austria, but 2014 will not see the return of the World Ice Golf Championships in Uummannaq, Greenland which has, since 2009, fallen foul of the weather.

"Global warming has made it more difficult to arrange the event as we can't rely on ice being formed on the fjord of Uummannaq -- the place where the event used to take place," Malik Milfeldt of Visit Greenland told CNN.

Happily for Björkliden, there have been no such issues with the weather so far and plans are in place for a weekend of competitions in late March, with the Scandinavian Snow Golf Masters forming the centerpiece.

Read more: Can desert dancing inspire McIlroy and Mickelson?

Read more: Is Jordan Spieth the next Tiger Woods?

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1754 GMT (0154 HKT)
When someone tells you to go jump in a lake, sometimes it's best to take their advice. "I've never been so scared," says golfer Pablo Larrazabal.
Bubba Watson is the Masters king, but can he win a major away from Augusta? Living Golf's Shane O'Donoghue has the lowdown.
April 15, 2014 -- Updated 1412 GMT (2212 HKT)
Arnold Palmer
Arnold Palmer won his first major at Augusta, played there with the U.S. President and made a record 50 consecutive Masters appearances.
April 10, 2014 -- Updated 1202 GMT (2002 HKT)
He is remembered for designing one of the world's most famous golf courses, but the man behind Augusta died pleading to be paid.
April 9, 2014 -- Updated 1426 GMT (2226 HKT)
Will Phil Mickelson win a fourth green jacket? Can Europe end its long Masters wait? Or will Adam Scott emulate the absent Tiger Woods?
April 10, 2014 -- Updated 1004 GMT (1804 HKT)
Take a trip around Augusta. From Eisenhower's toppled tree to the fiendishly-difficult Amen Corner, the Masters' home venue has it all.
April 8, 2014 -- Updated 1204 GMT (2004 HKT)
He's been mistaken for Tiger Woods' ball-boy, but that won't be the case when amateur star Matt Fitzpatrick tees off at the Masters.
April 4, 2014 -- Updated 1228 GMT (2028 HKT)
2012 Masters Champion Bubba Watson shows us how to hit the long ball.
April 3, 2014 -- Updated 1827 GMT (0227 HKT)
CNN's Shane O'Donoghue meets Billy Payne -- the chairman of Augusta National Golf Club.
April 3, 2014 -- Updated 1739 GMT (0139 HKT)
Shane O'Donoghue meets Ben Crenshaw who won his first of two Masters thirty years ago this month.
March 27, 2014 -- Updated 1300 GMT (2100 HKT)
They carry a bag for a living but these men can bring home six-figure incomes. Welcome to the world of a caddy.
CNN's Alex Thomas welcomes golf opening itself up to women, but questions the motives behind the decision.
ADVERTISEMENT