Ambisjonene for banen har vært høye helt siden de første planene begynte å ta form på midten av 90-tallet. Det var derfor naturlig og riktig å velge en arkitekt med dokumenterte kunnskaper og erfaring.
Dave Thomas Ltd som er verdenskjent for design av berømte mesterskapsbaner som The Belfry og San Roque og ble valgt til å designe det nye golfanlegget på Atlungstad.
The Belfry er den mest anerkjente banen og har arrangert PGA Europa-turneringer, inklusive den prestisjefylte ”Ryder Cup” som spilles mellom USA og Europa.
The San Roque Club nær Sotogrande er en internasjonal mesterskapsbane, og er i dag hjemsted for PGA Europa Tour. Det er her fremtidens stjerner blir født i den årlige kvalifiserings-turneringen.
Paul Thomas var ikke sen om å hente frem superlativene etter de første befaringene på Atlungstad: ”The landscape and setting for this new championship golf course is truly exceptional. Our objective is clearly to make Atlungstad ”the” course to play”.
“Vi gjør oppmerksom på at banen er snudd siden arkitekten skrev beskrivelsene nedenfor. Hull 1 er nå hull 10 osv.”.
ARKITEKTENS TANKER OG KOMMENTARER
Hole 1: Par 5
A straight forward hole with all the hazards and opportunities on display for the golfer. No options here, except to flight the ball through the air for the approach. Good shots will be rewarded.
Hole 2: Par 3
This is a demanding par 3 with major problems to the left hand side as the slope will carry the ball away. A well flighted shot will give a good result but the green has been opened up to the right hand side and balls should gather and run onto the green surface from that side.
Hole 3: Par 4
The first of the forest holes and quite an intimidating one. The bunkers on the corner of the dog-leg should make it impossible to cut the corner, so a safe route to the left fairway is required. The second shot is all carry to the elevated green. This should be one of the hardest holes on the course.
Hole 4: Par 4
Another dog-leg to right through the forest and again to an elevated green. The landing area for the tee shot is quite generous but it is the deep bunker in front of the green that everybody will remember.
Hole 5: Par 4
The choice here is to play to the left with a tee shot to the generous fairway or try to carry the cross bunker which will shorten the hole considerably. The green is very long and narrow and club selection will be incredibly important. The lake is picturesque but an intimidating prospect.
Hole 6: Par 3
Another pretty looking par 3 with a fantastic panorama. There are no alternatives and the golfer just has to make a good strike to get across the water. There is a lot more margin for error on the right hand side, but the most dangerous flag positions are on the left of the green.
Hole 7: Par 4
One of the difficult holes of the golf course which calls for an accurate and straight drive. There is a little more room to the left so aiming at the bunker is probably the line off the tee. The second shot to the elevated green has problems to the front with a deep bunker and at the back falling off to a valley. Any shot played short will roll back down the bank towards the stream but any shot long enough and a little to the right will work well as the ball will gather towards the hole.
Hole 8: Par 4
A dog-leg right to left and the best line is to be as close to the bunker on the left as possible which will give you the best line to the green. Any tee shots to the right hand side of the fairway look the safest but you will have to fly over the bunker located some 70 yards in front of the green.
Hole 9: Par 5
The hole is straight away at the breweries funnel and the logo for the golf club. There is a lot of movement and slopes which will make it difficult for the second shot, although the green is well protected with bunkers, there is a way in from the right hand side. A good birdie chance for the better player to finish on a high.
Hole 10: Par 4
This will prove in time to be a very difficult opening hole. The slope from left to right will have a big effect on the bounce of the ball and the stance of the player for the second shot. There will be some very difficult pin places over or near bunkers. An understanding of the best place to miss the green will be quite important.
Hole 11: Par 4
I really enjoy the look of this hole. You have to put the tee shot in the only right place for your individual golf game. It is not an easy hole and in addition a tricky green. I particularly like the undulations and the change of elevation as you play. The bunkers to the left are penal but missing the fairway to the right will give you different problems.
Hole 12: Par 4
A straight away short par 4 but will actually prove to be quite tricky because of the severity of the bunker in front of the green. The tee shot should be played as much to the left as possible avoiding the big fairway bunker – this will give you a better line and approach to the green. The further away you play from this bunker to the right the more difficult the second shot will be.
Hole 13: Par 3
A good par 3 with some links style golf incorporated into the design. The bunker to the right looks menacing and it looks as if the left is easier but this will probably not be true as the bank will prove to be difficult for recovery. The best place is on the green!
Hole 14: Par 4
The more adventurous line from the tee is across the bunkers to the left hand side of the fairway. This will give you a better approach and entry into the green. The further to the right off the tee the more the bunkers will come into play around the green. The ball should gather onto the putting surface from the right hand side, so it should play a little easier than it first looks.
Hole 15: Par 5
Two straight hits are all that is required for it is the third shot and the pin placement that make this hole memorable. It can be an easy par 5 but the bunkers are deep and not very forgiving around the green. Play with some patience for the best result.
Hole 16: Par 3
This is a terrific par 3 and a real picture. The tree in front of the green adds a little spice and may cause controversy in the future. Because hitting over the back of the green is so desperate, club selection is vital. Extremely pretty but treacherous hole.
Hole 17: Par 4
Opportunities to build a golf hole in this setting are rare and I hope we have done it justice. Only a short
par 4 but the result favours the brave. It is a long tricky green with a couple of difficult pin positions. The approach may favour some traditional pitch and run-ups when the wind is blowing.
Hole 18: Par 5
A good tee shot will provide you with a choice of either carrying on up the left or opting to cross over the lake for the easier approach shot. This will be a demanding par 5 for the handicap player who will have to select each shot quite carefully because there are plenty of problems and hazards to catch mistakes.