Welcme to glf
under the Midnight Sun
As a golfing country, Finland is quite an exception. The season here is one of the shortest in any Western country, perhaps the whole world. To compensate for the short season, however, the playing day is uniquely long; in the northernmost parts of the country, the sun does not set for months on end. A round or two near the roof of the world can be a very exotic experience indeed for foreigners.
"Together with their favourite pastime, golfers can enjoy the peace and beauty of Finland's almost pristine environment," says Managing Director Christer Herlin of International Golf Marketing Inc.
According to Heikki Saarinen of the Finnish Golf Federation, there are 45,000 or so players in Finland, compared with about 4 million in the whole of Europe. Of the 80 courses in Finland, 50 are 18-hole or longer.
"There's room on the courses," says Saarinen, "with 16-20 hours of playing time a day during the best season." Services are very high-standard. Saarinen believes that the design of courses in Finland - world-famous for its architecture - also deserves a special mention: "The natural landscape has been respected and this creates an impression of a setting that has had the same unchanged character for centuries."
Foreign devotees of the sport are well catered-for in Finland. They can choose between package trips to certain courses, tailor-made visits to any course and also so-called Stopover Golf, which is meant for anybody briefly in Helsinki but with time to spare for a few holes.
"Finland's location on the crossroads between East and West is one element in the services offered to golf players," says Herlin. "Visitors coming to Finland on a golf package trip also have the option of side-excursions to neighbouring countries in both East and West."
There is a whole range of special services connected with Stopover Golf. Herlin's company, for example, arranges fishing and sauna trips in the islands fringing the coast. "In the course of a one-day stopover, a visitor has time to play golf, fish and enjoy a sauna," he says.
All one needs to play in Finland is an official handicap or equivalent skills. The Stopover Golf service provides everything else from clubs and balls to shoes and gloves.