First public golf facility to be built in Estonia

The Estonian Golf Association has launched an ambitious plan to build the country’s first public golf facility.

The new 9-hole golf course and driving range, to be built on an attractive inner city site in the country’s capital city of Tallinn, is part of the Association’s on-going campaign to bring golf to a wider cross section of the nation’s 1.4 million population.

Golf was introduced to Estonia back in 1993 when the country’s first facility was opened for play at Niitvälja. It now boasts seven courses including the impressive Sea Course at the Estonian Golf and Country Club which was designed by Lassi Pekka Tilander and is included within Golf World’s list of the top-100 courses in Europe. The Estonian Golf and Country Club recently became the first club in Estonia to be certified by the Golf Environment Organisation.

Estonia currently has around 2000 regular golfers and this year sent teams to both the men’s and women’s European Club Trophies but its country’s Golf Association recognises it needs to build public facilities if the game is ever to fulfil its potential.

Plans to build the country’s first public golf facility on an inner city site in Tallinn were discussed at a Golf Conference held in the capital in late November where Duncan Weir, The R&A’s Executive Director – Working for Golf, was one of the keynote speakers. Other contributors to the Conference included Lodewijk Klootwijk, the Director of the European Golf Course Owners Association; Kelli Jerome from the Golf Environment Organisation; the PGAs of Europe Director of Education, Tony Bennett and golf course architect, Jeff Howes.

“The R&A first heard about the plans to build a public golf facility in Tallinn about a year ago when the Estonian Golf Association approached us for some support but last month’s visit was the first chance we had to see the site and to evaluate the proposal properly,” said Weir.

“It was all very impressive,” he added.

“During the visit we had lengthy discussions with the EGA’s President, Arti Ots, and the Association’s outgoing General Secretary, Rein Raudsepp. We also spoke to Tallinn’s City Mayor, Edgar Savisaar, and it is clear all three are committed to building the facility.

“Estonia is currently one of our smaller national affiliates but they are doing a great deal of good work. Rightly, they see the introduction of a public facility as an essential part of their campaign to alter the way golf is perceived within the country.

“At the moment, golf is viewed as an elite sport within Estonia but that would change if facilities became more accessible. We have asked the EGA to clarify some of the finer details of the project and will discuss it internally early next year.”