Caroline Hedwall and Anna Nordqvist are not the only Swedish duo having success at this year’s Solheim Cup. While the two golfers are taking the center stage, there are other Swedes who are making this international event a big success.
Looking at the European Team, the countries of England, France, Germany, Spain and Sweden have two players representing them in the 2015 Solheim competition. It helps both players to have a teammate who speaks her language and is familiar with her customs.
The golf course is not the only place where countrymen work together. Sweden has companies representing their products and, two of them represent the big and small facets of Swedish products for golf.
The first is Abacus Sportswear. The slogan of Abacus Sportswear is “You Can Count On Us” and, indeed, the European Solheim Team players will be doing just that. Abacus is the clothing supplier for the Euros, and they will be wearing everything Abacus for the entire tournament.
Abacus Sportswear was founded in 1991. Abacus markets golf apparel that combines function, design and quality. Their mission is to make functional and as a pioneer of high-performance stretch waterproof fabrics, Abacus produces smart, technical clothing which combines Swedish design with quality and functionality, befitting the active golfer.
Talking with Chris Mattsson, Abacus Sportswear Chief Designer, she told me that Abacus was delivering to the European Team the latest in Abacus line of rain gear. The rain jacket that the European team will be wearing is the company’s Pitch Extreme StretchLite60K™ Jacket. The jacket is the lightest, most breathable waterproof garment Abacus Sportswear has ever developed. In addition, it can stretch to almost twice its original size. It fits like a second skin and, really, you could put this on before your round in any weather and be comfortable no matter what happens on the golf course. Sounds great but we’ll all have to wait for the 2016 season before we can don this new technology.
You would think that there would be no opportunity for a little guy to be able to participate in this world wide event. However, like the little engine that could, a small jewelry company from Stockholm, Sweden has beaten the odds and has done just that. Nordic fields is showcasing their exclusive Solheim Cup collection.
Nordic fields began five years ago that founder, Eva Waitzfelder, had in finding jewelry about golf that would work as not just as fine jewelry but as a memory of her round at some of the world’s finest golf courses. Like the band, U2, she couldn’t find what she was looking for. Out of that frustration, Nordic fields was started.
Starting with a fine jewelry line called, “On The Green,” a collection of rings, earrings and pendants with a motif that will remind golfers of a ball sitting on a putting green. From there Eva has developed a way of taking any digital image and infusing it into anodized aluminum. With this process, Nordic fields has successfully developed jewelry for museums, corperations, charities and, now, the Solheim Cup.
To become an Official Supplier to the Solheim Cup you have to be approved by a variety of organizations, but it all starts with a company called Kitbag. Kitbag is a sports retailer that works behind the scenes of events like the Solheim Cup in merchandizing and selling souvenir and logo clothing and other items. Like many relationships, especially ones that work well, the meeting of Nordic fields and Kitbag was a case of one company looking for a solution and the other having the answer.
Kitbag was looking for a product that was different from the norm. Of course, every major golf event has the standard keepsake fare like t-shirts, mugs, golf balls and other items but the Kitbag buyers needed something…else.
A phone call from a jewelry manufacturer in Sweden sounded interesting and after receiving some samples and seeing the Nordic fields website, the Kitbag buyers asked for a meeting. Kitbag “got” Eva’s concept and saw her logo jewelry as an alternative to smearing face paint on your cheeks.
Kitbag has enjoyed its relationship with Nordic fields. There’s a lot of effort and detail and according to Kitbag, Nordic fields has gone above and beyond expectations. Of course, all the hard work and good conceptual ideas all comes down to the brutal reality of bottom line sales. Kitbag is very happy with sales so far. Plus, the big days of sales are yet to come.
Is there a potential to take the Nordic fields concept into other sports? Well, like Nordic fields, this is Kitbag’s first Solheim Cup. They got here by being the sports retailer for the Ryder Cup and teams in the English Premier League.
I think we can say that the Nordic fields future is so bright, Eva may need shades.
Creating Value for Your Members
Johan Hinton, Hintons Golf AB photo thanks to golf.se
When Swedish sports star Sven Tumba picked up a golf club in the mid-60s, golf in Sweden took off like a Saturn rocket with boosters. Almost overnight, golf in Sweden went from a dalliance of the posh to a sport for the middle class.
Golf became so popular that over 500 golf clubs were started and golf players grew to almost 600,000 in four decades. The sport was so in demand that there were waiting lists for membership at many clubs. As club members became share holders in the club, like in any bull market share (membership) prices went through the roof.
Around 2005, golf in Sweden had something happen that never happened before. The Golf Federation of Sweden saw membership and rounds of golf drop for the first time since the Tumba effect. Forty years of meteoric growth came to a screeching halt.
A variety of reasons were given and still are given ten years later: too expensive, too long to play, too hard to learn and the explosion of internet and video games sabatoged people from playing golf. There were panels, discussion groups and consultants discussing the problem, but no solution has been found. Sweden finally was part of the world wide problem of fewer golfers playing.
Golf clubs in Sweden, for years insulated from this global slowdown, now saw themselves in a dilemma. While costs of operations grew, income from membership fees and daily green fees was shrinking. Many clubs opted to get out of the membership share holding formula and looked for other ways to increase income. One common way was to cut back on costs, including course upkeep.
Another idea was to offer low membership fees that gave golfers their necessary SGF membership. These “mail order” clubs increased membership (some to a couple of thousand ) to raise the golf club’s gross.
Around 2010, if my memory serves me, there began loose associations of local golf courses uniting to offer members of one club the opportunity to play at another for a limited amount of rounds. Then, club packaging began where, under one membership fee, you had membership privliges at the sister clubs involved.
In 2014, a group was formed in Stockholm that took the multiple golf course membership to a new level. Calling itself, Unipeg (“peg”is Swedish for tee) the company has a vertical marketing plan. The plan is that a Unipeg member would be able to, for instance, purchase clothing and equipment, book golfing trips, or lessons within Unipeg. To make this plan work they needed members so they began to take over operations of golf courses in the Stockholm area at a furious rate. This rapid growth gave Unipeg over 22 000 active members and players. In addition to games on 17 courses in the Stockholm area.
At about the same time, the Kalfors GK, a very successful family run golf operation in the area just south of Stockholm, had a slightly different approach. Because of their success, Kalfors needed more golf holes to meet the increasing demand. In a mutual decision, there was a merger between the two clubs, forming the group, Golf South STHLM. Members from each separate club are now members of this new union, giving the players 72 golf holes to play. The bonus is that these golf courses are the #1 & 2 golf courses rated for the area.
Last month, another family operator, the Rönnebäck Golf Club, acquired the floundering Malmö City golf club. They will operate under the banner of Hintons Golf AB.
Well, how has this trend worked for these organizations? We asked Pelle Sättare, CEO of Golf South STHLM and Johan Hinton of Hinton Golf about that.
Golf South, in acquiring Vidbynäs GK, helped a successful company get better. Golf South was quick to point out that there would be no acquisitions after Vidbynäs as the Unipeg model was not what they are after. Sättare explains, “Golf South Stockholm is the result of a vision that created southern Stockholm’s best and most affordable golf experience. We decided to allow our members access to all that Kallfors and Vidbynäs offer, all for a single membership fee. We now offer 72 holes on the region’s two highest ranked courses, Vidbynäs South Course (#1) and Kallfors 18-hole course (#2).”
So, how’s that working out for you? “Very well,” said Pelle. ” Membership increased by a net 25%. Rounds played went up by 32%. While income from daily fees remained fairly flat, membership rounds played was increased.” The operation side of the golf courses was merged under the Golf South umbrella but, for the time being, maintenance is being handled by the individual golf courses.
Johan Hinton, from Hintons AB just made the merger with Malmö City, so we asked him what was his reasoning for making the move? “It started this past March. We contacted Malmö City and they were open to the idea. It wasn’t long before the deal was made.”
So, are you aiming to become the Unipeg of the Malmö area? “That’s my goal,” said Johan, “It just made a better economic picture for both clubs, members and golfers of the area.”
Hinton continued, “We feel we can now offer a better product at Malmö and Ronneback. A better product means more golfers and more golfers means an increase in capital. Is it a risk? Sure, but it’s one that makes sense to me.”
Hintons Golf will now offer three courses for one membership fee. In the immediate works are to improve the clubhouse, parking lot and driving range at Malmö City. “By doing this, it will have a positive effect on Malmö’s members. All our members now get more golf for their money.” Hintons Golf AB oversees the management of both clubs, while each club still supports its own men and women players clubs.
As for Unipeg, after a whirlwind pre-season, they’ve been quietly instituting and ironing out the mechanics of getting 17 different clubs on the same page. They closed the downtown retail store for the summer. However, on September 3, 2015, they are hosting a day long event with golf for their business and supplier friends. I can only guess, but I would think there will be some important information about their direction coming out of that gathering.
Christian Lundin – Turning Dreams Into Golf Courses
Players designing golf courses started from the game’s earliest years. I mean, who else would have taken land only fit for sheep and turn it into a golf course? Only people who loved the game, like Christian Lundin, golf course designer.
When Bobby Jones gave his thoughts to Allistir MacKenzie could be the beginning of the player/course designer relationship. Later, Jack, Arnie and Gary started their own golf design companies, riding on the name recognition of their playing accomplishments. All of those icons hired designers to execute their ideas.
It’s now commonplace for professional players to translate their playing experiences into golf courses. While the trophies gather dust on the shelves, to design a golf facility that people will enjoy for decades is very appealing. Faldo, Seve, Sorenstam and Woods all have designs in place around the world.
The latest player to enter this enterprise is the Swedish professional , Henrik Stenson. Following in the footsteps of fellow Swede and Ryder Cup player, Pierre Fulke, Stenson wants to design golf courses highlighting his experiences as a player into vision. Stenson wants to incorporate risk and reward into his golf courses, something he likes as a player. Not surprisingly, Henrik wants a simple design, yet each hole to have its own character. It must be enjoyable for all levels of golfers. While the better golfer can challenge the risk to get his reward, the higher handicap player has a safer route to the hole that would only drop a shot to par.
Does the professional golfer put down his clubs and take up a protractor? He could if he has some degrees in architectural design. So, he finds a designer who is a kindred spirit, someone who believes in the same vision for golf courses as he does. In Henrik’s case, he turned to the Swedish designer, Christian Lundin, of the firm reGolf.
Growing up in the Swedish area known as Småland, Christian Lundin was devoted to soccer, as are most boys in Sweden. He loved to play all sports but soccer was his favorite and he became pretty good, despite his dislike of practice. A serious injury forced him to hang up his soccer boots. His doctor suggested he take up golf, saying it was a game Christian could play for the rest of his life.
Christian took to golf but his dislike of practice remained. However, he began to take interest in other aspects of golf. Scoring became less important as Christian began to understand the strategy and how landscaping of the golf courses helped form that strategy. The deeper he delved into this side of golf the more he became interested.
Christian speaks his English with an Irish lilt reflecting the years of study in Ireland for golf course design. Christian has over twelve years experience in the golf business, working as a greenskeeper prior to finding his calling as a designer. Christian studied the great links of Ireland while with Jeff Howes Golf Design. Christian returned to his native Sweden, to help evolve the face of Scandinavian golf. Lundin is an Associate Member of the European Institute of
Golf Course Architects.
Like any artist, Christian has his influences. Masters like MacKenzie, Ross and H.S. Colt. Lundin is particularly influenced by Tom Simpson, who was an eccentric character, almost certainly a little crazy. Simpson was one of the breed of gentleman amateur architects as opposed to a golf professional turned designer. He was a fervent believer that golf should be an intellectual battle and not a physical one.
Christian was impressed early by a particular quote by Simpson. Simpson said that in designing a course, “The green is the star and the fairway is the comet’s tail.” Christian recalled, “That struck a chord with me and I find myself designing golf holes from the green back to the tee.”
Some of Christian’s favorite courses are, to no surprise, the links courses of Ireland. Some of those courses are County Louth near Dublin, Ballybunion near Kerry and Carne, located in a wild dune area on the tip of the Mullet Peninsula in County Mayo.
The question is, how did Christian meet Henrik Stenson? It seems that Christian went to the PGA Show in Orlando. I’ll let Christian take it from here: “I went with a friend who was a good friend of Stenson. My friend called Henrik to say hello and Henrik invited the both of us over to his house. The conversation wandered all over the subject of golf, but when we talked about golf courses we liked and their designs, Henrik and I were pretty much in sync. As we left, he said let’s get together again.”
Linden didn’t here from Stenson for the rest of the golf season. One day the phone rang and Henrik was on the other end saying that he would like to see Christian. “We met again and agreed we should do something together.”
Christian had put in a bid to rebuild some bunkers at Österåkers GK, outside of Stockholm. Then, the club changed course and decided for a complete redeisgn. Another designer nearly received the contract when Henrik and Christian asked if they might bid? After a meeting with Österåkers principles, the duo were awarded the contract.
From now until 2021, when the final phase will be complete at Österåkers, Henrik Stenson Design will be working on the modernization of already one of Stockholm’s premier golf clubs. While Henrik Stenson himself will be deeply involved with the project, it will be Christian Lundin that will turn Henrik Stenson’s ideas into a golf course.
Maybe I should reserve a tee time, you think?
Swing Change-It’s Not That Simple
I never compared my game to Tiger Wood’s. I would sit and watch him do things in golf I couldn’t imagine. Now, I find we have a lot in common. Unfortunately, it’s not the best place for us to be in.
I am going to compare myself to Tiger Woods. Not in the sense that I am the greatest golfer of my generation. I couldn’t run that match up even in my dreams. I’m going to compare myself to the present, struggling, put on a positive face, Tiger Woods.
I have played golf for almost all my adult life. However, I never played the game as a child or a teenager. I caddied for two summers at the local private golf club. Ok, I carried a bag or two, following the flight of balls and finding errant golf shots keeping the clubs clean. I gave no advice on distance or putting lines and, fortunately, was never required to.
It wasn’t for another decade or so that I fell in with a bunch of decadent golfers who started me playing. Whatever my swing was, I picked up along the way by a myriad of books, magazine tips and advice from fellow golf pilgrims. I never took a lesson and that became a badge of honor. “Nope, I never took a lesson,” I would proudly say, as if my handicap was in single digits.
My quest was to find a simple swing that would magically turn my game around. I believed that the original golfers on St. Andrews never took any lessons and with feathery balls and crude clubs made of wood still shot par of 72. Shouldn’t we modern golfers also be able to do so?
I finally took my first lessons in my golfing history this year. I became a desciple of the swing designed by Sacke Frondelious in his book, “Golf for Vuxna.” It fit my athletic playing past by using a ten finger grip and a one plane swing. I was immediately hooked and took some lessons as well as played the swing all season.
Ok, how does this put me in a Tiger Woods comparison? For me, changing a swing has been full of highs and lows along with a roller coaster of emotions. Until the swing becomes a “feel” swing, your mind is continually bombarded with swing thoughts on every phase of a new golf swing. It was only 10 days ago that I said, “I can do this!” and I still have a ways to go.
When Tiger missed the cut at the PGA Championship this past weekend, I felt empathy. How must he feel after three swing changes? All that information he has to process. The brain can only intake so much. Like those pictures that look like jagged, crooked lines until you put a straight edge on them and find out they are perfectly straight. The inner voice that talks to him after he duffs a shot or putt. “Jeez, Tiger, you’ve made that shot a million times. It’s not that difficult.”
Except, it is. For you, me and Tiger Woods.
In this edition we talk about the 2015 Solheim Cup authorizing a small Swedish jewelry company’s creations, a golf course out of court, and Annika’s first in Europe and Stenson’s first one, period. We’ll also talk about the weather because doesn’t everybody?
Your humble writer has been on a couple of road trips which has kept me from the SGO keyboard far to long. While I can tell you where I have been, the details will have to come a little later. When they do, I will upload them straightaway.
In the last few weeks, I have been to Spain, Estonia and Germany. In the next few weeks I’ll be back to Germany, Spain and the USA. I’ve been racking up the frequent flyer miles this summer.
Speaking of summer or as they say here in Sweden, what summer? It has been awful, rainy and cool with just a few sunny and warm days. Just enough sunny days to tease us. Two things that seem to be in vogue this summer has been brilliant mornings and sunsets and the golf courses are in super shape. We still have August and September to go to salvage a summer. While they have been glorious in the past, let’s just say we’ll see. So, what has been happening here, you say?
Nordic fields® is a Swedish jewelry company that can take any digital image and recreate it on high quality aluminum. In the interest of full disclosure, the founder of Nordicfields® is my wife. However, the news is that Nordicfields® will be supplying its jewelry for the Annika (Sorenstam) Invitational Europe and the 2015 Solheim Cup. Each event will have customized items expressly for its event. Abacus and Nordicfields® will be the only Swedish vendors authorized by the Solheim Cup this year.
Aerial view of Bro Hof’s #15 & !6
Bro Hof Slott, one of the premier golf courses in Europe and a perennial #1 in Sweden since its opening, has finally had its beef with the Civil and Environmental Committee in Upplands-Bro Municipality settled. In a nutshell, the city said that the Bro Hof Stadium course was built too close to the shoreline and the club had to return the original shoreline. This would eliminate the incredible 15th and 16th holes, which are gems in competitiveness and scenic quality. Bro Hof claimed that they had a deal with the previous administration to allow the design in exchange for a larger wildlife preserve maintained by the golf club. Finally, the Swedish Land and Environmental Court ruled in favor of the golf course and now those HD pictures that broadcast from Bro Hof will continue to promote the municipality. Bro Hof is making a pitch to bring the 2019 Solheim Cup to its confines.
(l-r) reGolf Christian Lundin, Österåkers Chairman. Mats Lundin, Henrik Stenson and Österåkers CEO Andreas Ljunggren
Speaking of golf courses, one of Stockholm’s noted courses, Österåkers, is having a complete makeover of it’s 45 holes. The redo will be the first design of the Swedish professional golfer, Henrik Stenson. Stenson believes that over his career playing different courses throughout the world, he knows what he likes and what he doesn’t, so his input will be on strategy. “There are often no different choices. When I see a hole layout I want to have options. I don’t think the designer should determine that this is the way you should play the hole. I want to have more choices.” Stenson has formed a relationship with the Swedish golf architect, Christian Lundin of reGolf.
Hanno Kross, CEO of EG&CC with Annika Sorenstam
While we are on the subject, Annika Sorenstam was recently in Estonia to announce that she will be designing her first golf course in Europe. The Estonian Golf & Country Club will build the Sorenstam design to become a 36 hole golf resort. The new course will complement the excellent existing 18 hole Sea Course. Part of her mandate is to make the new course exciting to play for all levels, including families. SGO interviewed Annika about her design thoughts. SGO will post that interview in the near future.
During the British Open, Brandel Chamblee of the Golf Channel, wondered why the small country of Sweden produced so many good golfers? As if to verify the answer, the Swedish Men took a Bronze medal and the Women took silver in the recent European Amateur Team Championships. Here is that segment: http://www.golfchannel.com/media/brandel-chamblee-growth-game-golf/
Hope your summer is a lot better than ours so far. Whatever the weather enjoy your golf and
Hit ‘em straight!
Swedish Golf Online
The Golf Swing for Everybody
I’ve been searchin’
I’ve been searchin’
I’ve been searchin’ every which way, yeah, yeah…”
– The Coasters
At 9:30 in the morning, despite the overcast and windy conditions, the practice mats at the Bromma Golf practice facility were almost full. After decades of playing golf, the only thing I was sure of was that I was not a good golfer. People ask me, “Are you a golfer?” My answer always is, “No, I play golf, but I’m not a golfer.”
I came to Bromma for my first golf lesson…ever. Yes, I have played this game of golf for most of my adult life without taking one formal lesson. I’m sure this stubbornness came from my belief that if it is called a “game” you shouldn’t have to “work” at it. Yet, here I was, ready to go to work to learn the “Golf for Adults” swing method.
I have been searching for the simple and repeatable golf swing, or the holy grail of golfers everywhere. I had passed through many golf swing concepts including “Golfing with Mr. X,” Ben Hogan’s “Five Lessons,” and a fun little book, called “Radical Golf” that proposed putting with a two iron because a two iron was the exact loft as Bobby Jones beloved putter, “Calamity Jane.”
I tried the metaphysical with Shivas Irons, Harvey Pennik’s “Little Red Book,” and some guy in Florida who thought that adapting the swing of a baseball player was the answer.
Moe Norman’s Natural Golf swing was pretty close to the idea I thought a golf swing should be. Many say that Norman was the best golfball striker that ever lived. I was particularly attracted to Moe’s grip on the golf club. His grip is based on the way we naturally grip a hammer or, for this American, a baseball bat (or tennis racket). However, I had no interest to spend money to unlock Moe’s”inner secrets” or shopping the Natural Golf golf shop buying clubs, grips and practice paraphernalia. After a few less than satisfying rounds and ball strikes, I put aside the Natural Golf swing.
A few months ago, I met a man named Sacke Frondelius. Sacke was a better than average golfer that, due to a severe accident, could no longer play golf. Sacke’s back was so injured, he could no longer use the traditional golf swing. The basic twisting and turning caused too much pain in Sacke’s back and spine. It seemed he would have to give up golf.
After much trial and error, Sacke developed a swing that uses the human’s natural grasping ability, no twisting, turning or shifting of the body from the waist down and a wrist cock with a 90ᵒ backswing. The results were dramatic for Sacke. He was able to swing a golf club again without any drop in enjoyment. Sharing the method among friends and members at his club, it was an instant hit. He wrote a book, “Golf for Adults,” after deciding to share this swing with everyone who wanted the opportunity to play better, simpler and without an aching back.
It sounded pretty good to me, enough to be sitting in a small classroom with eight other pupils ready to learn Sacke’s method.
PGA Professional Instructor, Johan Ahlmgran, would lead us on our day long undertaking. With his short gray-peppered hair and rugged jaw, Johan looks like an instructor but it’s his piercing, ice blue eyes that complete the effect. You just believe that when he speaks, it’s reality. You want to learn what he teaches and demonstrate it in a way that won’t disappoint him.
We began the instruction with an introduction of the trainees, our day’s agenda and an overview of the Golf for Adults method. Then, the class broke up, loaded up on range balls and headed for the mats for our practical lessons.
The first step is learning the proper position of the hands on the golf club. You do it by thinking the club face is the face of a hammer. You grab the club as if you are going to pound a nail with the club face. Our first exercise was cocking our wrist and using only one arm hitting golf balls by only un-cocking the wrist. You will be amazed on how far you can hit a golf ball with only one arm and a cocking and snap of your wrist.
We spent the rest of the day practicing the grip, the stance, ball alignment, take away and contact. It sounds like there is a lot to learn but the swing is so simple that even I quickly picked it up. Johan was excellent in explaining each lesson. He is so good that a person not understanding Swedish could walk away confidant that they hadn’t missed a detail.
All of us trainees braved the stiff breeze and the not so spring-like temperatures without a whimper. I hit over four big buckets of golf balls without fatigue or, better yet, a tired, aching back. Even so, I was happy to end the day in the warm classroom.
I can only testify to the fact that for me, with Sacke’s method, I am making better contact with the golf ball without the dreaded hook or slice. I can walk upright after many swings. I can’t wait for my next round of golf.
They call it “Golf for Adults” but, in my mind, it should be called “Golf for Everybody.”
Here’s Sacke showing us how….
Thanks to Charles Schulz – All Rights Reserved
Update: For our Swedish readers, head over to the “Golf för Vuxna” website for further info on the book and CD (www.golfforvuxna.se). For our English readers there is an English version. Go to Google Books to find the printed edition.
Henrik, Flash and Jesper…Oh, My!
The weather in Sweden continues to make up its mind on whether (nice, huh?) it wants to be winter or spring. That has curtailed all the excitement of an early start to the season and has put the emphasis on personalities in the Swedish golf circle.
The big news is with Henrik Stenson. It was disappointing that Stenson, usually a stand up guy, blame the officials for his second place at Bay Hill. The officials put the last group on the clock for slow play. Henrik said that having to pick up the pace put him out of synch enough that he three putted TWICE down the stretch.
I don’t pretend to know a professionals mind set, but it seems, to paraphrase the old adage, “Make me three putt the first time…your fault. Three putt the second time…that’s all on me.” Sorry, guys, making the final group on Sunday doesn’t put extra time on the group. Like the PGA tells we amateurs, you have to speed up play. At least, keep up.
Unfortunately, Henrik has spent the week before the Masters fighting a fever. This questions his being ready for the Masters this coming week. The Masters seems to be the major that would solidify Stenson’s legacy as a professional. It will also make Stinson the first Swedish man to win a major golf event. It will take a a team of medics to keep Henrik from being in Augusta. I know for me when I recover from a fever, I feel mentally alive while physically a little weak. But when it comes to the Masters, 95% of the game is half mental, as the noted philosopher, Yogi Berra, once said.
Speaking of the Masters, Jonas Blixt’s effort in his first Masters Tournament last year was nothing short of outstanding. The Swede went all four days under par his debut at Augusta, which has only been done by two other players in Masters history. Jonas ended up tied for second last year. It also was the best finish in the Masters by a Swede, so far.
Next week he tees it up at Augusta National for his second Masters start. He’ll be playing a practice round at Augusta on Monday. “It will be good to get a feel for the speed (on the greens). You don’t have the Augusta conditions ( any where else) so it’ll be nice to get up there and see how the undulations are. It’s mostly what you’re looking for (to see how the ball reacts). The more you play the better you can feel comfortable on how it looks and the be well prepared to play well, says Blixt.
By the way, one of the translations for “blixt” is flash. Swedish Golf Online will be calling Jonas by Flash from here on out.
Some good news for Sweden’s Nordea Open, the yearly European Tour event. Fan favorite, Miguel Angel Jimenez, will be playing in this year’s event. He will be joining last year’s winner Thongchai Jaidee, Alex Noren, Victor Dubuisson, Torbjorn Olesen, Thomas Bjorn, Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Stephen Gallacher and Stenson. There won’t be a big push for American players this year. Next week, Lagardère Unlimited Scandinavia Sports Director, Claes Nilsson, will travel to the US Masters to, among other things, see if there is another name for Sweden’s major golf event. “We won’t push to get some American stars. We want the Nordea Open to host a strong field of players from the European Tour,” Nilsson.
Let’s face it, the purse isn’t large enough to draw major US players to spend a week in Sweden two weeks before the US Open. The Nordea Open will be outside of Malmö at the PGA Sweden National, June 4-7, 2015.
I’m sure many of you are familiar with the Swedish professional golfer, Jesper Parnevik. Parnevik is famous for the upturned brim on his cap and introducing the Swedish clothing brand, J. Lindeberg, to the golfing world. The gossip rags always remind us that it was Parnevik who introduced Tiger Woods to his ex-wife, Elin Nordegren.
Parnevik arrived on the PGA golf stage in the mid-1990s after a number of years on the European Tour. Jesper was the first Swede to win the Swedish golf event now called the Nordea Open. Parnevik played on three Ryder Cup teams and tied for second twice in the British Open. His best world ranking was seventh, which he attained in 2000. It was the highest world ranking achieved by a Swedish golfer until Henrik Stenson reached the top five in 2007.
Since 2000, a series of serious injuries including two hip surgeries, a broken lumbar vertebrae and a serious boat injury to his right hand put his ability to play in jeopardy. Remarkably, this season Jesper has begun playing again on the PGA Senior Tour.
Parnevik’s father, Bosse, is a beloved Swedish entertainer. So it comes as no surprise that Jesper and his family are starring in a reality TV series called, “The Parneviks.” Every Monday night, Swedes get to follow the life in Palm Beach, Florida of Jesper and his friends and family. So far, there has been very little tape shot on the golf course.
Goings On – March Edition
Kristianstad GK has been one of Sweden’s revered golf clubs. Located in Åhus (O-hus) in south Sweden (Åhus is also the home of Absolut vodka) the East golf course is a favorite of Swedish professional golfers. Holes 13 through 16 are one of the most enjoyable, if not the best, stretches found on a Swedish golf course, it has been said.
Like many Swedish clubs the Kristianstad club management had to solve the club’s increasingly difficult to manage operating costs. The end result was management decided to sell the golf courses. The buyers were three members of the club with deep pockets. The trio bought the golf resort for approximately 30 million SEK (€3.2M) and have already taken over the operation.
They have a three step plan for restoring the club’s former status. This first year they are investing in the club’s facility by improving the club’s infrastructure, investing in new equipment and a storage facility for storing that equipment. Stage two will be the building of a new clubhouse and adding a 40-50 room hotel on the premises. The club’s central location in Åhus could make the hotel popular for business people as well as golfers. In the long term, Kristianstad hopes to build homes and apartments on land adjacent to the West course.
The new owners understand that will be no quick return on their heavy investment. As long time members of the clubb, their hope is in the long term Kristianstad will be restored to its long time position as one of Sweden’s best courses.
Women were in the golf news from Sweden last week but not from the usual sources. Rather than the players, it was women in the executive positions of Swedish golf clubs.
The Golf Administrators’ Association of Sweden (GAF) named Unni Ekenberg, Club Manager at Skinnarebo G & CC in Jönköping, as their 2014 Club Manager of the Year.
Unni Ekenberg joined Skinnarebo in 2013 and, according to the club’s website, helped the club increase its membership significantly, maintaining the best green fees annually for the past ten seasons while increasing sponsorship revenues. While she was in her capacity as an active Club Manager managed to achieve popular and financially successful competitions. However, the project Golfkul for children as she is most proud of.
Unni said, “The idea was to attract children from 6 to 13 years to start playing golf. It generated many new members. Now it turns out that the project not only brought new young members to the club but also former members who quit but now have come back to golf because their children were engaged by the club. Her employer Skinnarebo G & CC are very pleased with her way of caring for the members.
“I have always worked on trying to make golf personable by constantly working on taking care of members, both old and new, so that they seriously feel that they are involved,” says Ekenberg.
Cissi Zimmerman becomes Sands Golf Club’s fourth club director. She also becomes the seventh female club manager in the Jonköping area. “There were 34 people who showed interest in the job,” says Mats Wärnbring, chairman of the Sand Golf Club. “Half of them were extremely qualified, so we are very pleased that we chose one of them, Cissi Zimmerman, as Club Director.”
Sand GC was developed in 2006. It was one of two golf courses that Arthur Hills/Steve Forrest designed that year in Sweden. The course has links features, the fairways are protected by man made sandy mounds that look like the dunes of courses situated by the sea.
Sand Golf Club has 18 holes, excellent fitness facilities and a new hotel with 14 rooms right next to the clubhouse, golf course and the driving range. “I’m glad I got this opportunity to work with golf full time. Sand Golf Club is an exceptional employer with an exciting facility,” says Zimmerman.
Zimmerman becomes the seventh female club manager in the Jonköping area. She joins Anna Brinkman at Wiredaholm, Sandra Tancred of Jonkoping, Helen Arnoldsson at Hook, Monica Andersson of Isaberg, Unni Ekenberg at Skinnarebo and Brittmarie Eriksson of A6.
The Golf Journalists of Sweden voted Sigtuna Golf Club their Golf Club of the Year 2015. The Golf Journalists Association has designated the Golf Club of the Year since 1978. The Association said, in part, “Sigtuna GK is rewarded for their initiative to be a hub for residents of the local community with a focus on the environment, cooperation and development.With this, golf in Sigtuna has gone from being seen as an isolated island for golfers to a role as open and active participants in the district’s future issues. The club has lifted its gaze from their normal sphere of influence in its own facility to a holistic approach to work and leisure in Sigtuna.”
A little while ago, Sweden’s oldest golfer had a birthday. Carl Mattsson started playing golf as a 76 year old. Sweden’s oldest golfer just turned 107 years old. Congratulations and Happy Birthday, Carl!
Finally, whether it’s global warming, climate change or whatever you want to call it, Sweden has gone through its fourth straight mild winter and the crocus and daffodils are poking up shoots. The rose bushes have buds starting.
Some clubs have opened their summer greens, even clubs in the Stockholm area. While we’re not preparing to attract golfers to Sweden as a spring time destination, it is something to note.
Unfortunately, it has blunted the annual, unofficial and unsanctioned race to be the First club to open for the golf season. While we are happy to see the extension of the golf season, I’ll sort of miss one of Sweden’s long time golf traditions.
Information from Golf.se – converted by Gene Oberto – All Rights Reserved
Bro Hof Interested in the Solheim Cup
Overheard at the Solheim Cup seminar in London today: “Close you eyes and tap your heels together three times. And think to yourself, there’s no place like Sweden.”
In the latest edition of Golf.se, Tommie Gustavsson reports that Bro Hof shows an interest in hosting the 2019 Solheim Cup. Today, Bro Hof’s CEO, Peter Nyberg, participates in a seminar in London, along with all clubs interested in organizing the event.
“We are not yet seeking the event. We will first attend the seminar and learn the conditions. Then, we’ll take a position on whether we should submit a formal application,” said Peter Nyberg, CEO at Bro Hof.
The owner of Bro Hof, Björn Örås, currently in the USA, is not attending the Solheim Cup meeting in London.
“Eight to ten country’s golf clubs are coming to London. Initially, in events like this, many countries are interested,” says Nyberg.
Christer Bergfors, the Chairman of the Swedish Golf Federation, will also participate in the London seminar, organized by the Ladies European Tour.
Bergfors said, “It is gratifying that Bro Hof shows an interest in hosting the Solheim Cup. Even better will be if you get the event.”
The Swedish Golf Federation’s role is relatively minor.
“Bro Hof has the main role in this,” continues Christer Bergfors. “The club is seeking the event. The Federation’s role is to sanction any competition and help out as much as we can.”
Sweden has hosted the Solheim Cup twice before, at Barsebäck in 2003 and Halmstad in 2007.
While Norway has only inquired about the possibility of hosting before, they are now interested in welcoming the Solheim Cup in 2019. If Norway’s interest persists, it could become a tug of war between Sweden and Norway.
Germany is the host for this year’s Solheim Cup. The action will be at St. Leon-Rot Golf Club outside of Heidelberg. Two years later, it could make it to Bro Hof.
For new readers, Bro Hof Slott Golf Club’s Masters Course is consistently voted the #1 golf course in Sweden. Bjorn Öräs built this world class golf course with bringing a hope of bringing next year’s Ryder Cup to Sweden. The Masters Course hosted the European Tour’s Scandinavian Open numerous times. I talked with many players and caddies at these events about the course. Overwhelmingly, they said that it was a long, tough test of golf and the best maintained golf course on the tour.
After spending a king’s ransom in the design and building of the Masters Course (as well as the #10 ranked course in Sweden, the adjoining Castle Course). Öräs had big hopes in bringing the 2017 Ryder Cup to Sweden. It never came close to coming.
Bro Hof and Swedish golf face the same hurdles in getting the Solheim Cup as they had trying for the Ryder Cup. Money and outside support.
#1 – “The Swedish Golf Federation’s role is relatively minor.”
That quote is foreboding. While the Chairman is going to London as part of the team, in reality, the Swedish Golf Federation will do little to help bring the Solheim Cup to Sweden. Less than two decades ago, the Swedish Golf Federation was ubiquitous, their fingers were in every aspect of golf in Sweden. At one time, they were the sponsor of the Scandinavian Open. Now, as their fire sale of assets is turning the SGF into a lean, not so mean, machine, to think of financial assistance from this group is unrealistic. What is troubling is that this organization seems to show no interest in any opportunity to promote Sweden as a golf destination overseas and not use any political influence they may have.
#2 – Public and Private Support
One of the reasons for not getting the Ryder Cup bid was the lack of support from Swedish government agencies and private business.
While the Swedish golf public supports these professional events at the gate (the Scandinavian Masters draws attendance numbers second only to the British Open), the tourist agencies of the Swedish government seem to have no interest to bringing an international event that draws fans from Europe and the United States. Plus all the promotion of Sweden that the international media can generate.
Germany won the bid because of the support of two of its largest corporations. SAP SE, the international software company and Alliianz SE, the multinational financial services company. These two German companies not only agreed to sponsor the event, they became Global Partners with Rolex and PING. Don’t forget the full support of the German Golf Federation and agencies of the German government.
#3 – Sweden has already hosted the Solheim Cup…twice.
Back in the day, not many countries looked to host this event. However, as golf has become an Olympic sport, there is a big push by countries to build golf on a national level. There are now more countries willing to spend more money to acquire events of this caliber to help in generating interest for golf among the populace.
I salute Bro Hof for attempting to generate enthusiasm for this event. Especially after being let down by Sweden in its Ryder Cup bid. Hopefully they will go to these meetings with more than a great golf course and Sweden’s past support of golf.
I Think I’m Going Back
With Thanksgiving, Santa Lucia, Christmas, New Year’s and a general lethargy kept me from posting. During the hiatus, the most amazing thing happened. The Swedish Golf Online Facebook page exploded with new friends. I hope this is not a comment on my writing, or not writing, in this case.
Seriously, welcome to all my new and old friends. I’m back online.
Around the time of your the last post on Swedish Golf Online, the Swedish Golf Federation announced that for the first time in almost a decade, there was a slight uptick in golf membership in Sweden. The growth was slight but after the tailspin that membership was in, any movement up is good news. The hope is that golf in Sweden can build on the positive move.
Sweden’s Henrik Stenson ended his 2014 season by winning the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai. Henrik’s two stroke victory over the world’s #1 player, Rory McIlroy, earned him the #5 ranking in the world. He also went 3-1-0 in the Ryder Cup in September.
Finally, the golf world wondered who the hell was Chris Como was after Tiger Woods hired the bio mechanics coach to work with him.
Now that I am, let’s see what the news in November has become in February.
The Swedish Golf Federation has printed the magazine, “Svensk Golf” for the last fifty years. “Svensk Golf” (Swedish Golf) has the largest circulation in Sweden because it is delivered to every member of the Federation as part of their yearly dues. That’s because to play golf in Sweden you must belong to a club. To belong to a club, you have to be registered with the Swedish Golf Federation.
It seems, however, that a circulation of over 500,000 is not enough to be profitable. Cost of ink, paper, circulation and staff has risen to the point that the Federation is selling off the magazine. Are there any suitors out there? Time will tell. According to reports the new owners must retain editorial staff as part of the deal. However, those of us who have been through a merger or sale knows how reality plays out in those scenarios.
While November’s news of membership improvement is positive, the sale of a Federation’s mouthpiece says golf in Sweden is far from healthy.
Henrik Stenson has started his 2015 season a little hungover from the success of 2014. After finishing 5th in the world last year, Henrik is currently ranked 61 on the European Tour after three events. No one is giving up on Stenson just yet. It’s a long road to September.
As to Tiger, well, the preliminary reports were positive. The unknown coach, Como, had helped Woods return to a swing that was close to the swing that led Woods to win 14 Major titles.
Practice golf is a long way from tournament golf and Woods began 2015 looking like a weekend hack on a local muni course. He missed the cut at the Phoenix Open after racking up a two day score of 155(!) including an 82. 82 is a score Tiger Woods hasn’t hit since he was 10, I think. The final indignity was his WD from the Farmers at Torrey Pines. This is a golf course that Tiger used to dominate. Wednesday he announced he was shutting down his game.
IMHO, Tiger’s woes are in the same ilk as Bobby Clampett, David Duvall and Padraig Harrington. All these men achieved big success. All of these men tried to improve on their successes by changing their swing. These three guys and Tiger were looking for the “perfect” swing. Why would they do that?
Any of us who play this dratted game know there is nothing perfect about golf. Trying to perfect imperfection leads to shanked pitch shots, scratching your head and heading home wondering where the hell it went.