Located 100km north of Finland's capital, Helsinki, Linna Golf offers an 18-hole championship course that is carefully crafted from the lush, forest land of a former hunting lodge.
Built as a European Tour course, the layout and facilities are of the highest quality. The resort-style layout of the development marries an impressive 1920s private home and hunting lodge with a modern golfing destination.
The course weaves its way through tree lined fairways, up and down the terrain offering 18 individual holes that test your eye as much as your game. The fairways bend and forth armed with white sand bunkers that demands a careful decision from every tee.
The greens are simply perfect. Relatively large in size, receptive, smooth as a pool table, and with several tiers, slopes and runoff areas. The condition of the greens is first class. If you have ever wondered what it is like to putt on European Tour level greens, Linna offers you that test.
In fact, you walk about the course convincing yourself that the green staff must be armed with nail scissors judging by just how much care and attention the course evidently receives. The thick, lush cuts of rough attractively border the tightly groomed fairways, creating a picturesque view on each tee.
The best stretch of holes is really 1 thru 17. The 18th is not a weak hole but doesn't complete the round in the manner in which it perhaps deserves. Each hole is tree lined and sets out a number of hazards ready to punish loose swings. Yet, the hole rewards course management and with the variance in the 4 different tees on each hole, offers an enjoyable round for almost all golfers.
In competitions, the course switches holes 17&18 with holes 8&9 to allow play to finish in front of the clubhouse. It could be argued that this setup should be used full time, as the 9th hole is one of the finest par-4s you will see.
Not long but a stellar test from tee to green as you play down from an elevated tee to a narrow fairway protected by large, eye-attracting bunkers. The second shot is played over water to a shallow green perched at the centre of the resort. Voted in Finland's "Dream 18" holes by Golf Digest it is likely to challenge any "Dream 18" you may have.
Holes 15, 16 and 17 offer a fine closing stretch of two par-5s and a par-3, whilst across the road the 18th hole lacks the real character and drama needed to complete you Linna experience. Interestingly, the 15th hole was designed by the winner of an open hole-design competition in a Finnish golf magazine. It is perhaps the best hole on the course.
That being said, that is the only critique one can make about Linna. The changes made in 2010, namely building up the bunkers to make them more visible and challenging, have created a course that deserves a Tour event.
Although remotely located, it is only an hour from Helsinki and due to its success plans are underway to build a larger hotel, a second course and additional facilities to entice traveling golfers. But take it from us, once you have played at Linna you will realise that golfers shouldn't need to be enticed. First class service, first class accommodation and most importantly a first class golf course in first class condition.