Edwin Roald  International Golf Architecture & Advisory



Iceland abandons 18-hole requirement for golf championships

In a pioneering move to inspire responsible resource use and respond to changing lifestyles, The Golf Union of Iceland has struck all reference to hole counts from its championship criteria. Therefore, 18 holes are no longer a requirement for golf championships in Iceland, a country where around 10% of the population of 330 thousand are reported to play golf on almost seventy courses, most of which have nine holes.


Explaining this seemingly unprecedented move, GUI president Haukur Birgisson said: “People’s needs have changed and will continue to do so. This includes people who already play golf and those interested in taking up a healthy form of outdoor life.”


Recent media coverage and industry discussion have revealed growing concerns that an 18-hole round of golf may at risk of becoming irrelevant to growing numbers of existing and potential golfers. “People need more options. We should not stand in the way of innovation among our member golf clubs. Therefore we are introducing more flexibility. For us, this is appropriate on many levels, because the focused concept of golf’s return to flexible hole counts comes from Iceland,” Haukur added, referring to the Why-18-holes concept developed and advocated by Edwin Roald, an Icelandic golf architect.


On his website, why18holes.com, Roald explains how re-introducing the flexible hole counts prevalent in golf for centuries, before a series of events led to a standard round in the late 1800s, can make golf become more accessible and responsible.


Pictured above: A handful of new holes are to be added to the existing nine holes at the stunning Brautarholt Golf Club in Reykjavik, masterplanned by Edwin Roald. Photo by Friðþjófur Helgason.


Learn how reconsidering golf's 18-hole principle can help struggling golf facilities and catapult the game into the future

Edwin Roald

European Institute of Golf Course Architects, EIGCA, logo in png format Logo for Golf Environment Sustainability Associate

Edwin Roald is a golf architect, writer and sustainability advisor emphasizing and advocating responsible land use. For 15 years, he has independently designed or consulted in eight countries, on both sides of the Atlantic including USA and Russia. Clients include governments, environmental groups, golf course developers and operators. Edwin is a Senior Member of The European Institute of Golf Course Architects and serves as the institute’s sustainability committee chairman.


He is an accredited verifier for The Golf Environment Organization’s GEO Certified eco-label and the author of Why18holes.com, where he has since 2008 encouraged the reconsideration of the 18-hole standard, a revolutionary concept Edwin has explained through public speaking and interviews throughout the golfing world. His work towards sustainable golf development has gained official words of support from The R&A in St. Andrews.

Senior Member - Serves on Council

Chair of Sustainability Committee

Sustainability Associate
& Verifier for GEO Certified

World top-25 sustainable

golf course architects

"In his inspiring lecture on sustainable golf, Edwin Roald made us realize that with a creative vision, community involvement, and proper management, golf can contribute to the activities of sustainable lifestyles."


Ari Virtanen


Lecturer, The School of Management (ESG)

Université du Québec à Montréal (UQÀM)

Get in touch


Europe: +354 693 0075

USA: +1 941 462 3332

Skype: edwin_roald

© Edwin Roald 2017