These days, you’ll find John Daly — yes, the triple major-winner and former World No. 1 golfer — tinkering on the greens of a 113-acre golf course in Iceland.
Not because he’s pro golf’s preeminent real estate expert (although that would be an interesting trend to follow).
No, the only course Daly has consulted on is the Sjalgjoóur Dolmen in the northwestern district of Reykjavik. The total cost for $22 million was matched by an even larger investment by the developer, the Icelandic Leisure Corporation.
Daly, 48, is a lifelong golf fan and has been “working for some time” on the course. The former World No. 1 lists it as one of his five favorite places to play golf.
“At the moment I’m trying to get the lay of the land, the wrong side of the fairway,” Daly says, laughing. “But it’s definitely my favorite.”
The multi-par approach pays off. The design — by award-winning Icelandic architect Björn Jonsson — includes two par-3 par 5s — the Mona Lisa course and the Björnsson Steve Peebles-designed Kids Course.
Before construction began, Jonsson spent seven days driving from top to bottom of the island and drawing up a plan that retained the natural landscapes of the Dolmen but augmented them with pipe gardens and bunkers created with 3D laser scanning. The new design is “our replica of golf courses in the States,” says Jonsson.
The trees — rare evergreens — were moved a mile inland. Searing temperatures in the dead of winter accelerated the waterproofing of the lines.
The project has been approved, so construction could begin as early as August if the government can secure financing.
Per Richard Osman, a senior media analyst for CBRE Asia-Pacific, Iceland is one of the hottest real estate markets in Europe.
“With its huge agriculture industry and high tourism numbers, the country is quickly becoming a favored destination for golfers both at home and abroad,” he said.
Osman points to the Dolmen, which offers green fees from £109 (just over $140) to £133.95 (nearly $180) per round. Other courses in the region, including the Jóta Fjólová Golf Club, Tomášardssonkrimour Golf Club and Fjósnó Golf Club, charge in the low thousands.
As for Daly, the course marks the first time he’s been involved in a golf facility. “This is my first golf course as an owner. We’re trying to figure out where my other areas of expertise lie,” he says.
He’s also trying to figure out how to get golfers from Iceland to enjoy the game on the golf course — without the hassle of flying in and/or out of Reykjavik. He would like to implement “welcome packs” for golfers that take them directly from the airport to the course.
“It’s a small island,” Daly says. “It would be nice to get folks who are already here excited to come and play.”
The International Golf Federation (IGF) awarded the course a qualifying exemption for the 2019 Open Championship. Prior to that, the course will host the SPS Nordic Challenge Cup.
All this for a project that began with a dream and ended up with a $22 million price tag.
“I’ve never been a part of anything as big as this,” Daly says. “Maybe when it’s built.”
This article originally appeared on Realtor.com.