After a long, brutal winter, Americans are hoping for an equally long, significantly-less-brutal summer. When the north country finally thaws, locals will flock to lakes and mountains, dragging boats, trailers, and furniture for their second homes behind their cars and trucks. Join the rush and head to these out-of-the-way spots for a bit of relaxation and a lot of adrenaline.
For two months every summer, the northern Norwegian sun circles the lip but doesn't fall below the horizon. For golfers, that makes the "Land of the Midnight Sun" into the land of the midnight tee time. Imagine a 72-hole tournament played in a single day – a marathon outing transforming a calm pastime into a hardcore endurance sport. Several Norwegian clubs claim players can take on 144 holes in 24 hours, but few actively encourage such punishingly protracted play.
Still, the opportunity to play 36 holes at a leisurely pace is an intriguing proposition. No matter when golfers hit their first tee shot, they're still positioned to catch a nap and a long lunch before starting again. There might not be a sunset to play through, but the views keep duffers walking.
The Lofoten Golf Links on the island of Gimsøy in the Lofoten archipelago sprawls across a former farm sandwiched between jagged mountains and the Norwegian Sea. The archipelago looks like the Grand Tetons were dropped into the North Atlantic from height and garnished with picturesque fishing towns. When fire and ice cut these islands off the mainland millennia ago, they left a landscape far more extreme than any other golfers are likely to have seen from a manicured green.
For now, the Lofoten course is a par 35 nine-hole track that plays nearly 3,100 yards along the sea, but a back nine is currently under construction and should be completed for summer 2014.
On the mainland, the Bodo Golf Links is an impeccable 18-hole course. On a clear day, golfers can see Lofoten and the fjords off in the distance. Nearer to the course, a waterfall tumbles off a mountain. The front nine plays like a traditional Scottish links course despite the par 5 that requires swingers to hit their second shot over a Viking tomb. The back nine winds its way through the forest and a little ways up the mountain.
The courses are singular even in the middle of the day, but come nighttime, they seem paradoxically both wilder and more pristine. A calm settles as though the whole country – all those ancient mountains and all that rushing water – is politely waiting for you to putt.
More information: Golf is not a cheap sport and Norway is not a cheap place to visit. Accommodations and food are pricey. A beer will run you between $9 and $12 U.S. But golf is entirely reasonable. Rates at Lofoten are 750 Norwegian krone (about $125) for 24 hours of golf, and at Bodo 400 krone (about $65) for all you can play in one day (so you and Thor can hammer golf balls to your hearts' content and maybe try to get 144 holes in before the sunset that never comes).
Credit: Photograph Nicholas Hegel McClelland