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Sweden: The Best Kept Secret of Golf in the World

During one gale, I asked, "Where did my drive go?"

"I think you may be in the restaurant," said one of my Swedish partners. "But there's a nice veranda which you may be able to play off."

I waved to the luncheoners, jauntily wedged over a bunker to the green and would have holed my eight-footer for par except for a forty-miles-per-hour gust. For me, that's golf in Sweden. Wet, chilly and loving it one minute, then warm and dry the next and loving that, too. Inventing shots. Gasping with surprise when you get to the next tee. Finding holes that are almost illegal in their originality (or quirkiness). And talking to the fit, friendly Swedes, like my new friend Jesper Ericstam at Falsterbo. "You should write about India next," he said. "They've got a course in the mountains so remote you have to have two caddies. One carries your bag. The other throws your clubs at these huge black birds that swoop down to take your ball."

Maybe not. If your idea of a perfect tee shot is trying to thread a fade down the Kyber Pass, then Sweden may be too tame for you. Sometimes Sweden seems like a theme park. How can the world be this clean and convenient?And should it be?

On vacation, why even ask. Take Sweden in large, calming gulps, and its golf courses in big, exciting bites and be refreshed. If you want, drop your rental car in Malmö and fly straight home. That would be a clean break. But you could also drive back up the archipelago to Stock.holm along the east coast--eight hours on E22. See the cliffs along Kalmar Sound. Golf courses?There's one every half hour or so. Just look for the signs with the swinging golfer.

Some say the Swedes, not Columbus, discovered America. It's time we golfers return the favor.

Playing Sweden

The best Swedish courses have split personalities and reward multiple styles of play. During any single round, some holes will be exposed to wind and defined by it. Others will remove the wind entirely but show a clear preference for a particular type of shot. If an old tree near the tee grows so big that, over time, only a fade or draw becomes a realistic option, then so be it. You might even have to hit a low drive off a tee to stay under limbs. Entirely fair?No. But neither is the last one thousand years of European history. You're no longer on the continent of "justice for all."

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