Viktor Hovland drove 22 hours and set a course record in the Arctic Circle
Lofoten Links is the stuff of dreams.
The golf course is situated 95 miles above the Arctic Circle in a remote area of northern Norway. In the winter, the sun barely rises. In the summer, it never sets. And in those few glorious months, there’s a 24-hour-a-day opportunity for one-of-a-kind golf.
The scenery is ridiculous. Lofoten is craggy, rocky, rugged. It hangs over the edge of the Norwegian Sea. It’s the sort of place that golf adventurers travel across the world to play, paying between $50 and $150 for the chance to play under the midnight sun. Occasionally, professional golfers do the same.
Enter Viktor Hovland.
Fresh off a T4 finish at the Open Championship in late July, Hovland headed home to Norway. Then he headed north.
“Yeah, it was amazing,” Hovland said at this week’s BMW Championship, when asked about the trek he made with three golfing buddies. “I had never been further north in Norway than Trondheim, which is about a six-hour car ride from Oslo, where I’m from, and we drove 22 hours straight up north.”
That got them to the Lofoten Islands, specifically Gimsøya, and even more specifically the farmstead named after its owner, Frode J. Hov, also the course’s founder and owner. Hov, meet Hovland. No wonder he felt at home.
“It’s amazing how they can build a golf course in such a remote area and still have the golf course be really good I thought,” Hovland said. “It was in great condition, and we didn’t have the best of weather, but just to have a golf course there in the middle of nowhere, it’s pretty special.”
Only one problem: Hovland didn’t have his golf clubs. They hadn’t arrived from the Open yet, and Lofoten is a demanding course off the tee; flat grassy stretches aren’t overly abundant in this craggy part of the world. On a windy, chilly first day, that meant a proper challenge.
“So I used my buddy’s clubs, and the first day it was blowing 35, and the fairways are pretty narrow, so as soon as you miss the fairways it’s just a re-tee,” Hovland said. “So I think I shot 83.”
Things were calmer the next day. A video of Hovland on the first tee shows a hint of blue sky, and he roped one over the edge of the sea, covering the rocky beach and flying it onto the green. According to the folks at Lofoten, he made the putt for eagle. It was on. He birdied 2, 8, 11, 13, 15 and 17, logging six birdies plus that eagle and 11 pars for a round of 8-under 63.
Hovland described the round as “quiet, perfect conditions.” That meant he was lucky. And good.
It’s not the first time Hovland has proven himself a local legend. After his tee time booking went viral last summer, several hundred Norwegians showed up to watch Hovland play with fellow pro Andreas Halvorsen, surprising the unsuspecting groups who teed off just before them. He’s beloved in his home country. Sports Illustrated put it this way: Hovland is already by far the best golfer Norway has produced. No one is in second place.
Nor is this Hovland’s first road trip. Early in golf’s post-pandemic return, Hovland drove…everywhere. From Fort Worth to Hilton Head. From Hilton Head to Hartford. From Hartford to Detroit. From Detroit to Columbus. He listened to heavy metal the entire way.
Hovland’s journey is admirable and enviable for obvious reasons. How many pros would use their off week to take a mega-road trip to remote Norway with three buddies? It’s the sort of venture that would poll near 0% on the PGA Tour but near 100% for fans at home — so it’s fun to see Hovland do the golf-nerd thing.
I just would have made someone else in charge of music.