You can Golf 24 hours a. day in Finland ...and that's not your biggest surprise.

If you have not visited Finland before dear reader, then this introductory feature might make it easier for you to short list this surprising Scandinavian country as a possibility for a future vacation. If that break were to be golfing based, your first surprise will be, possibly, to learn that Finland boasts more than 70 golf courses, the great majority of them being 18 holes.

Many of these courses are within an hour or so from Helsinki, and most are open to members of the public who can produce some kind of player's certificate. In some cases, heated greens extend what is in some regions, a season somewhat shortened by the local climate. But what the heck,
who cares about the length of the season, think about the length of the day, for this is the land of the midnight sun! Even in the south the sun shines for almost 20 hours per day. Are you keen enough and fit enough to play for that long? Finland has even come up with the answer to golfing in winter, snow golf. Not enough? There is also a course that has 9 of its holes in Finland and the other 9 in Sweden. So if the unusual is what you are looking for, this could be the place. Finland however is much more than a golfing destination. It is, in fact, one with a varied and interesting selection of activities, cultures and interests.

If enjoying nature's bountiful offerings is your cup of tea, than perhaps Finland's "lake district" with no less than 180,000 clear, and cold lochs is a good place to start. These lakes, of course, offer all the magnificent outdoors and water sports that one would anticipate. In fact Finland's geographical location offers water not only in the lake districts, but also along her many shores as well. As it lies at the end of sea routes from other Scandinavian countries as well as the continent, it is possible for skilled boats men to come to the country under sail. A word to the wise though, sailing in the archipelago can be exceedingly dangerous because of shallows and concealed rocks. You must stick to established routes and come prepared with the latest in sea and boating charts. With water playing such a prominent role, it should come as no surprise that there is a big choice in boating activities. Among the most popular being canoeing and white water rafting. Organized tours are very popular, with choices of “roughing it” or "hard top" accommodation available. Guided tours for River ratters also are becoming tremendously popular with adventure seeking visitors. Finland is Utopia for most game fishermen, with a satisfying selection of packages available and a decent catch any time of the year all but guaranteed in writing. Hiking, cycling. horseback riding, and trekking round off the complete sporting vacation. Business visitors will find state of the art facilities in many main hotels, and the country often plays host to major conventions and seminars.

The Activelifestyle Travel Network can help you find the accommodation you need. Visit them at WWW.activelifestyle.com.

A quick look at some of the golfing possibilities.

Messila Golf
Messila Holiday Center lies in Hame, only an hour's drive from Helsinki, and the championship golf course is just a short walk from there. It was planned by the most famous Finnish golf architect, Kosti Kuronen. Since 1988, when the course was opened, it has reflected not only the environmental beauty, but also compliments all the modern convenience of the resort. This includes a clubhouse, a pro shop and professional service. One of the innovative features of the course is that the greens are electrically heated. This guarantees excellent conditions both early and late in the season. Messila has been chosen the best resort in Finland, and, with it's selection of activities, has a lot to offer also for those who do not play golf.

Nordcenter Golf
Nordcenter is located in a historical coastal area in southern Finland, an hour’s drive from Helsinki. The nearest town is Tammisaari, which has a lively sailing resort. Nordcenter is regarded as one of the most exclusive courses in the country.

The 18-hole championship course was designed by Ronald Fream, and its contours follow the changing landscape – entering the woods, lining the sea, and climbing up small hills. Many golfers rank it among the most challenging courses in Finland.

Saimaa Golf
Saimaa golf is located in Mikkeli in the Lake District of Finland, a 30-minute flight from Helsinki. The golf course is only a few kilometres from the center of Mikkeli, in the middle of the deep blue lakes of eastern Finland. Saimaa Golf Course was built in 1989 and is located on lake land and surrounded by elegant parktype woods. Most of the fairways are quite demanding, but, as they end in exceptionally large greens, the course is also a pleasant outing for those who are of limited talent and experience.

Katinkulta Golf
Katinkulta, the most diversified resort in Finland, is located in the area of Vuokatti, approximately 500 kilometres from Helsinki. The course is a very special experience as, besides being quite a challenge, it introduces players to most beautiful scenery, with lakes, ponds, fells, ridge formation and reindeer moss. Katinkulta is also known for its Midsummer Sun Golf Tournament. It is played from midnight until early morning under the bright northern summer sky.

Tornio Golf
The green Zone Golf Course is located in Tornio, near the Arctic Circle and on the Swedish border. It is easy to reach from Helsinki: a one hour flight to Kemi and 30 minutes by car from the airport. The green Zone Golf Course is unique, as it is located on the border of Sweden and Finland. Nine of the holes are in Finland and nine in Sweden. As the border is an international time zone, you will gain and loose one hour during play. Putt lag anyone? The Torino river, Europe’s last free-flowing river, splits the course. The northern location presents the golfer a special opportunity to play 24 hours without interruption in the summer. For eight weeks the midnight sun illuminates the course and enables the golfer continuous playing. Welcome Guinness Records Book of candidates!

Alandia Golf
The golf course in the archipelago of Alandia is probably the most beautiful in Finland. A 30-minute flight from Helsinki, it is located 20 minutes from Mariehamn, next to the 12th century castle of Kastelholm, on the sea. Because most of the holes are quite demanding, the tour offers challenge for experienced golfers. During the autumn of 1992, the course was expanded to 27 holes. Nine more new holes will be opened in this year. The golf season on the archipelago is the longest in Finland. Playable from May to November.

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