A round of golf on the Kuusamo Petäjäkangas Golf Course also gives a short glimpse of Kuusamo’s wilderness and the interesting history of the Petäjäkangas area.
In addition, the course is the highest altitude golf course in Finland (more than 260m above sea level). It is also one of the most northern golf courses in the world with a possibility to play under the midnight sun.
The front nine takes the player on a tour through Kuusamo’s recent history.
The back nine is built in an area where the German troops situated in Northern Finland during the Continuation War had their maintenance and supply centre. In different parts of Kuusamo the German Army built a multitude of different storage buildings and lodgings, even prisoner-of-war camps and a hospital. German commandant’s office was located at Nilonkangas, about one kilometer from the golf course towards the city centre. Mainly storage buildings, lodgings and a prisoner-of-war camp were located in the Petäjäkangas area.
Pits that can be seen in the area are mainly fox-holes and foundations for storage buildings but also remains of trenches and dug-ins can be found. A German light trench railroad called Kenttärata from Suomussalmi via Taivalkoski led to the main maintenance and supply centre which was located approximately 10km south of Kuusamo in Vanttaja and Sänkikangas. The trench railroad was built for the most part by POWs captured by the German Army but also by local civilians. Vanttaja boasted a number of services and different types of entertainment for the troops returning from the front. These included canteens and even a cinema which welcomed civilians from Kuusamo as well.
The back nine is situated in the foresty part of the course, thus, aptly named Karhunkierros (Bear Track) after the most famous nature trail in Finland. The holes are mainly named after some of the well-known sights one might see on the Karhunkierros Trail with the exception of hole 17.
Our tour starts at Ruka which is not only the highest point of the course but also one of Finland’s most renowned winter holiday destinations.
A great fairway opens at the tee. A pond on the left hinders the tee shot but there is always room for a good drive.
Club suggestion for the next shot would be a short iron. Bunkers on the left guard the green. The player might have to do some long birdie putts on the big green.
Par 4 Hcp 13
White 289 m
Yellow 274 m
Blue 266 m
Red 255 m
The slightly creeping name of the hole, Hirsipuu meaning hanging tree, stems from the wartime hanging tree behind the green.
With an accurate mid iron shot both a par and a birdie are within reach. However, a failed tee shot might mean big numbers on
the score card on this par 3 hole.
Par 3 Hcp 15
White 131 m
Yellow 117 m
Blue 103 m
Red 90 m
At this hole the player hits the ball towards the actual bunker, Bunkkeri, where an ammunition storage used to stand. It was blown up by the Germans when they were leaving Kuusamo in 1944.
The hole is a long dogleg par 5. An accurate drive gives an opportunity for an approach that leaves the ball just 100 metres from the flag. A long drive, however, traps the player behind the bunker hill. There is a receiving bunker in front of the green. A good game strategy is to choose a club aiming behind the flag rather than in front of it. A par on this hole is a very satisfying result.
Par 5 Hcp 5
White 498 m
Yellow 471 m
Blue 457 m
Red 408 m
Kenttärata, trench railroad, is a short par 4. Almost as short as the history of the trench railroad from Suomussalmi via Taivalkoski to Kuusamo that the Germans built during the Continuation War that it was named after.
This is one of the easiest par 4 holes on the course. With a good drive the player gets a clear view of the green and the two bunkers guarding it.
Par 4 Hcp 10
White 306 m
Yellow 294 m
Blue 287 m
Red 239 m
Paanajärvi is a scenic, fjordlike lake which is almst 128 metres deep. Before the wars 1939-1944 Lake Paanajärvi was a part of Kuusamo but after the armistice it was ceded to the Soviet Union.
A cute little pond adds some extra excitement to the tee shot on this par 3 hole. A nice long iron or a hybrid should have no trouble reaching the large green. A par is no surprise on this hole.
Par 3 Hcp 12
White 184 m
Yellow 150 m
Blue 140 m
Red 86 m
This hole is called Iso Rävä. With its clear and fish filled waters Lake Iso Räväjärvi is a part of the lower reaches of River Kitka.
This one of the most challenging par 4 holes on the course bends to the right. A good long drive should offer an excellent spot for the approach. But thn qgain if the drive is too long the player is in serious trouble. On the right side of the fairway is a long water hazard. Reaching the green requires a bigger club than what the player might beaccustomed to on this hole as there is approximately a 10 metre ascent. A brave approach at the green may increase the number of strokes if the ball goes over the green and in to the moss behind. The narrow fairway adds challenge to the tee shot.
Par 4 Hcp 1
White 325 m
Yellow 308 m
Blue 290 m
Red 272 m
Evakkotie means the Road of the Evacuees in Finnish. The people of Kuusamo were forced to evacuate their homes twice, first during the Winter War 1939 and then again in September 1944.
If the player has been saving the driver, now is the time to pull it out. There is plenty of room for it on the fairway. The bunkers on the sides of the green make it difficult to approach it. Good approach will easily be rewarded with a par.
Par 4 Hcp 18
White 346 m
Yellow 329 m
Blue 319 m
Red 269 m
Pikku Rävä, Lake Pikku Räväjärvi, is part of the lower reaches of River Kitka.
This par 4 bends to the right and the player must go around the pond again. There are only few good spots for an approach on the fairway which slopes towards the water hazard. There is plenty of room behind the large green.
Par 4 Hcp 9
White 321 m
Yellow 304 m
Blue 276 m
Red 265 m
Kotiinpaluu means homecoming in Finnish. As the evacuees of
Kuusamo returned home at the end of 1944 they discovered their hometown almost completely destroyed. The retreating German Army had also burned several small villages and bridges nearby. Despite difficulty and penury the reconstruction work advanced little by little. Over the years and with hard work the town centre was resurrected from the ruins and life returned to normal. Today Kuusamo is a vibrant city whose economy is based on tourism and forestry.
A successful tee shot rewards the player with a possibility to approach the green on this short par 5. There is a fair chance for a birdie. However, the slopes might easily cost the player a couple of extra shots. Two bunkers guard the green.
Par 5 Hcp 16
White 415 m
Yellow 405 m
Blue 399 m
Red 346 m
The back nine begins at Ristikallio.
Ristikallio is a gorgeous rock formation in the River Oulanka. It is situated at the beginning of the Karhunkierros Trail (Kathunkierros = Bear Trail) in Northern Kuusamo near the Salla border.
Viewed from the tee box the hole appears to be a clear par 4. A relaxed tee shot with a driver should offer a clear passage to challenge the flag. The right side of the fairway creates a safe passage to approach the flag with a chip.
Par 4 Hcp 3
White 345 m
Yellow 339 m
Blue 288 m
Red 284 m
Neidonkenkä (Calypso bulbosa) (“maids shoe” is a flower of the orchid family, indigenous to the northern taiga. It is extremely rare and protected in Finland.
Opening a bit right of the centre offers a good spot from which to approach the flag on this challenging par 4. A water hazard lurks on the left side, invisible from the teeing ground. There is plenty of room on the green behind the bunker. Suggestion for the approach is to pick a club aiming behind the flag rather than in the front bunker.
Par 4 Hcp 2
White 340 m
Yellow 329 m
Blue 263 m
Red 255 m
Jyrävä is a nine-metre waterfall in River Kitka near Juuma.
Guarded by bunkers this par 3 requires an accurate shot. Wind from the pond adds challenge to the choice of club since it is virtually undetectable on the teeing ground. A good mid-iron shot to the middle of the green is rewarded with a birdie.
Par 3 Hcp 8
White 136 m
Yellow 129 m
Blue 120 m
Red 112 m
Juuma is a scenic village in Northern Kuusamo. At Juuma the River Kitka widens into Lake Juuma.
A good drive over the bog makes it easier to achieve a good score on this challenging par 5. The safe choice is to go around the wetlands and aim to the right. Naturally the detour adds metres to the journey and thus strokes on the scorecard as well. The green is guarded by bunkers which amps up the challenge to the approach.
Par 5 Hcp 14
White 504 m
Yellow 480 m
Blue 470 m
Red 429 m
Sinipyrstö (red-flanked bluetail) (Tarsiger cyanurus) is a rare bird of the Old World flycatcher family. It attracts numerous bird enthusiasts to Kuusamo annually.
The hole is a long-hitters dream. A long par 4 with space to spare. A receiving bunker can be found behind the green.
Par 4 Hcp 11
Wite 390 m
Yellow 363 m
Blue 346 m
Red 303 m
Oulanka is a national park founded in 1956. The area has been known for its beauty since the 19th century when it was a popular destination for artists and naturalists.
This is a very challenging hole for those teeing off the whites and yellows while the red tee offers a 120 metre advantage. There is plenty of room for a drive. A bunker is waiting for the approach in the middle of the fairway but passing it on the left is easy. The third stroke faces some uphill struggles but, even though the green is surrounded by bunkers, there is plenty of putting space.
Par 5 Hcp 6
White 506 m
Yellow 498 m
Blue 493 m
Red 377 m
Kiutaköngäs is more than a 100 metres long series of rapids
in River Oulanka.
An interesting par 4 bends left after the drive. On the left side of the fairway is a bunker ready to catch drives. The approach has to go a bit uphill. Bunkers around the green are waiting for shots trying to circle it.
Par 4 Hcp 4
White 341 m
Yellow 329 m
Blue 291 m
Red 283 m
The eight hole is called Tiirikaiset. Ritva and Auvo Tiirikainen were members 1 and 2 at the Ruka Golf Ry, the club which preceded Kuusamo Golf Ry. Both have since left us and this hole is named after them in honour of their memory. Ritva and Auvo’s contribution was remarkable for the start of golf activity in Kuusamo.
This par 4 demands an excellent drive in order to succeed. Going over the water and the bog requires a 160 metres long shot from the back tee. Aiming the drive just left of centre makes it easier to approach the green. Trees on the sides of the fairway cast shade on the approach. There are big bunkers behind the trees on the right side of the fairway.
Par 4 Hcp 7
White 362 m
Yellow 317 m
Blue 321 m
Red 298 m
The biggest rivers of Kuusamo, River Kitka and River Oulanka, come together at Jäkälämutka (Lichen curve), next to the Russian border.
As the player gets closer to the club house this rather easy par 3 comes into view. A good drive should be enough for a birdie spot. However, the big green makes the putt a bit of a challenge but a good milking should reward the player with a par.
Par 3 Hcp 17
White 161 m
Yellow 150 m
Blue 138 m
Red 127 m