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.

Solheim_Cup_emotions_01“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.

images-1Sweden’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.

imagesIt 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.

images-2Practice 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.


Pressure? What Pressure?

Earlier this week, Henrik, Justin and Rory got together to re-live some great moments of theirs at The Race to Dubai. Like golfers everywhere, they dared each other to attempt the same shot. The results are pretty amazing.


A Tale of Two Tweeties

Sometime in my life I read an article about relationships. In the article, the title i have long forgotten, it read that women have a better advantage over men in disagreements. The reason was that as children, women fight with their mouths. They learned how to gain an upper hand in a disagreement.

Boys, it said, settle their disputes by getting physical. After a futile attempt at vocal settlement (“Take it back! No, you take it back!), it turns into a wrestle in the playground or a punch in the nose.

golf_g_bishop-poulter_mb_608x342 I thought of this while reading the goings on between PGA Tour player, Ian Poulter and PGA President, Ted Bishop. Promoting his “biography,” Pouter said some unprompted words about Nick Faldo. He felt that Faldo could have led the European Ryder Cup team a better way in 2008.

It’s not surprising that Poulter would say such things. It’s long been  known that Ian and Nick are not the best of friends.

Faldo has been as outspoken about his thoughts as anyone. He says what he thinks with no filter. Much of what he says sounds like braggadocio, sour grapes or unsolicited swing advice. I’m sure that Ian Poulter is not the only one who would cross the street rather than be social with Mr. Faldo.

Ian Poulter is also outspoken. Most of his quotes he generates from his Twitter use. Twitter is the social media platform that limits its entries to 140 characters. Information has to be concise because of the word constrictions. Twitter also seems to be the favored communication of the PGA Tour and no player Tweets as much as Ian Poulter. One could imagine that Ian, in the living room, tweets his wife in another part of the house asking what she’s doing?

Now comes along Ted Bishop, the President of the PGA. Ted took umbrage with Poulter’s comments. Bishop gets on Twitter and tells Poulter (and the world) that Ian has no right to criticize Faldo. He has no right because Faldo’s record is far ahead of Poulter’s accomplishments. And to add insult to (the assumed) injury, Bishop calls Ian Poulter a li’l girl for the way he’s handled the situation.

“Li’l Girl” is as far from a slur as anything can be. If we return to the playground, I think an eight year old could handle, “You throw like a li’l girl” without collapsing in shock. It seems the “adult” world cannot.

I’m pretty sure that Bishop’s initial tweet was not sent as the President of the PGA. He sent it because Ted is a friend of Nick. Like friends should do, he had Nick’s back.

In a knee jerk reaction to the supposed push back from the media and the public relations embarrassment, they fired Ted Bishop. No review, no chance for apology…nothing. They just fired him.

Organizations affiliated with the PGA in public statements, respect the PGA of America’s action. They also add the usual “Golf has no room for such…blah, blah, blah.” Even the women on the LPGA tour are quiet.Is it because the LPGA is on its China swing? I guess its tough for golf reporters to gather information from their comfortable seats in Orlando and Bristol.

This incident only emphasizes the disarray that Golf is at present. So afraid of upsetting the networks, sponsors and public that feeds the operation of the PGA of America, they took the easy way out. Instead of handling the situation, they tried Unknown-1to bury it. Now, like most attempts at trying to hide blemishes, the story keeps growing every day.

One lesson is, if there is one from watching adults play bad in the sandbox, don’t hang your dirty laundry when the season is “over.” The Golf media, hungry to feed magazines, web sites and air time, will keep this alive for as long as they can.

Another lesson is Ian Poulter’s smile on the book jacket. Sales just grew, I daresay, by a few thousand more books. At least there is one positive to come out of this purile affair.


There’s a New Beer in Town-Beer Drinkers Rejoice

Is there such a thing as coincidence? I’m not sure about that. You’ll have to judge that for yourself. Yesterday, Patrik Waxan, on his Facebook page, commented about a new product about “GolfBeer.” I didn’t think much about it because, come on, ANY beer goes great with golf.

10734143_358463277648504_7742843269824922927_nBut then, Golf Channel.com had a story about three pro golfers getting together to brew a new beer called, yup, GolfBeer. The three pros involved are Keegan Bradley, Graeme McDowell  and Freddie Jacobson from Sweden.

The beer has three distinctive textures and taste, reflecting the individual pro’s preference. All have a lower alcohol content, ideal for consumption during a round on a hot day without disrupting your game.

Let’s put a pint in our fists and raise our glasses to the success of GolfBeer.

Thanks to the Golf Channel, we can have Freddie Jac tell us himself.

 


Tender Skin and Tough Talk

Last Saturday, Tom Watson, finally responded to the criticism being heaped on him the week after the Ryder Cup. Watson was vilified for the USA Ryder Cup loss to the Euros. He was “too old”, “non-communicative”, “out of touch”, “out coached” and was “unprepared”. Those were just the nice things being said.

If you wouldn't mind just popping under there, Tom...In typical sports logic, when a team underperforms, it’s the coach’s fault. He gets fired and the players who didn’t perform continue playing. Phil Mickleson in the press conference, with his coach just a few feet away said that Tom Watson didn’t follow the correct game plan.

Watson, to his credit, took the blame and said that he took responsibility for the poor display of the American team. Normally, that would have been the end of it and the Americans would go home, lick their wounds and look for the answers over the next two years.

Unfortunately, in this 24/7/365 gotcha news cycle, sleeping dogs are never left to lie. Golf journalists no longer write about golf play. Especially now that the season is over they need to write about something beside the McGladrey Classic. Gossip is now the news of the PGA. So the American Ryder histrionics goes into the second week of raking manure.

The story seems to be that after the American debacle on Saturday afternoon (they eked out a ½ point) the players had gathered for the final team dinner Saturday night. The room was populated by players, players wives and partners. Maybe PGA Officials, hangers on and who knows who else?

According to reports, Watson, with a full head of steam, came into the room and told the players that they’re not very good at foursomes. He is reported to said to the team that they stink.

John Stewart would now ask the team to meet him on Camera three.
“Guys,” he might say. “I don’t know how to break this to you, but Tom’s right. You sucked…”

In an attempt to lighten the mood, a copy of the Ryder Cup, signed by every player was presented to Watson. Still in his tough coach role, Watson said something along the lines of this is meaningless without my hoisting the Cup above my head tomorrow. He then left the room.

It seems, according to reports, that the players were shocked at Watson’s seemingly stern comments and his blowing off their very thoughtful gesture. So shocked that the Americans closed Sunday’s singles with a total Ryder Cup score of 11½ to the European’s 16½.

John Hawkins wrote in Golf Channel.com that “Watson’s inability to cope with his team’s shortcomings amounts to a much larger and less excusable failure, a catastrophic breach of conduct by a guy who obviously knows better. It became particularly clear to me that Watson was especially tough on his younger players.”

Nine time Ryder Cup player, Jim Furyck, said this about Watson. “Everybody knew he could be a hard-ass coming in. If you didn’t, or you couldn’t take it, you probably weren’t prepared.”

Of course, it wasn’t the poor play of the players that caused the implosion. It was Watson’s inability to “communicate” and his “poor decisions”.

I have a thought about this brouhaha.

The first is my goodness, get real. So, Tom Watson is not the nice guy that we see on TV. I imagine, that to win eight majors you need to have some “hard ass” to play well when the pressure’s on. Hogan, Palmer, Nicklaus, Woods are not your pal when they play competitive golf.

Why aren’t the players stepping up and owning their poor play? To blame Watson, hard ass or not, for “losing” the Ryder Cup is ludicrous.

In my past athletic life, I’ve received third degree burns from the blistering coaches have given me when I didn’t play well. I would imagine that these guys are getting little sympathy from their pal, Michael Jordan. He’s another hard ass that has got up in a few teammates grill. Golfers are real sensitive, I guess. Those egos need to be stroked, not mortified.

If Tom Watson did a terrible job, then let history and the experts prove it so. A team should never throw their coach under the bus for their poor play. Because at the end of the day, that is exactly what happened. The team played terrible and blamed Watson for it.


“Year to Go” for the 2015 Solheim Cup

While the USA’s golf gossip rags may stretch it out, the books have closed on the 2014 Ryder Cup. The next international golf team event that Sweden will be focusing on will be the 2015 Solheim Cup. Sweden is well represented as the European Captain (Carin Koch) and her Vice Captains are all Swedish. A foregone conclusion is that Caroline Hedwall will play for the European Team. The team sportswear is designed by a Swedish company, Abacus®

 

 

Inimages-1 September, the Solheim Cup host city, Heidelberg, started the Solheim year with a party!

Fans and the German media were given a taste of what the Solheim Cup is bringing to Germany when the woman’s international event comes to Golf Club St. Leon-Rot in September 2015. A spectacular Solheim Cup charity kickoff event in Heidelberg, Germany raised over 4,000,000 Swedish krona for charity September 16, 2014.

The Solheim Cup “One Year to Go” Event for charity included professional and celebrities hitting golf shots from the Old Bridge in Heidelberg, attending a gala dinner, press conference and Charity Show Match at Golf Club St. Leon-Rot. While fun and exciting, the outcome was €450,000 raised for local charities.

Both the Solheim Cup Captains, Europe’s Carin Koch and Juli Inkster from the USA, were in attendance. European Team Captain Carin Koch commented, “The “One Year to Go”event they have put on here is quite amazing. It just gives you an idea how great this tournament will be next year. To get all these people to come out a year before the event, it was an amazing day. The whole facility is amazing.”

United States Team Captain Juli Inkster was equally enthused. Captain Inkster said, “It was fabulous. It was great to see (the place) we’re going to be, how the golf course is going to play and the enthusiasm of the German people. With SAP and Allianz, PING and Rolex, it’s going to be a great week next year. We’re going to have to bring our ear plugs because it’s going to be pro Europe, but we expect that. I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

Others involved in the “One Year to Go” fun were US Open winner Martin Kaymer, Sandra Gal and Moritz Lampert, all from Germany along with Solheim players Sweden’s Caroline Hedwall and Paula Creamer from the USA, They all came to Golf Club St Leon Rot, the host of The 2015 Solheim Cup on September 18-20 2015.

Five-time United States team member Paula Creamer said, “It’s been great. I’ve never been a part of something like this, coming to the place before the event with the Solheim. I think that Germany is going to be a great host. I know there will be a lot of people watching and I’m looking forward to coming in 2015. Germany is on an emotional high with their sports so I know that they’re going to be pulling for team Europe. We’re just going to need as many fans as we can get.”

Sandra Gal, a member of the victorious European team in Ireland in 2011, commented, “It was really good to see all the excitement and how well the “One Year to Go” was organized.” The former University of Florida Gator continued, “The event gave you a little taste of how it’s going to be in one year. It was the first time seeing the course for me, so that was really neat. I was really motivated before but more so now having been here. Seeing how much it means to everyone in Germany it would be a dream come true to play in front of the home crowds.”

You can download the 2015 Solheim Cup App now. It is surprising how good it is. There are already many insights from players and a lot of interactive tools. It’s available and is a free app.

The charities to benefit from the promotion event are Steffi Graf’s “Children for Tomorrow”, the German University Sports Foundation, the Franz Beckenbauer Foundation and Rea Garvey’s foundation “Saving an Angel”.

I was at Golf Club St Leon Rot last July. It’s a wonderful club and the course was in excellent shape after pouring rain earlier in the afternoon. I was fortunate to play the Solheim track and it will be an excellent venue for players and fans alike.


Who Do You Love?

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It’s events like this. The Ryder Cup, the Solheim Cup, the Olympics and even the World Cup where I asked who am I going to cheer for? Will it be the United States or Europe (Sweden, if it’s the case.)

You see I am an American who has lived in Stockholm, Sweden for almost the last decade. The question asked is a natural one. Do I root for the nation of my birth or the one that I have adopted. Or should that be, adopted me?

I have a stock answer that I developed for American Football’s Super Bowl. “Who do you want to win,” I’m asked. My reply always is, “I don’t have a favorite. All I ask is with two minutes to go, I can turn to the person next to me and say, ‘You know, this is a real good game”

The answer developed because the actual game never lives up to the two weeks of intense hype before Super Bowl Sunday. More times than not, the viewer knows the game’s outcome by half time as one team dominates the other.

There’s only one team that I ride the roller coaster of a true fanatic. That team is the University of Florida “Gators.” The Gators make me sit on the edge of my seat and emote aloud on every play. The outcome of their play can set my mood for the rest of the day. It is the same feeling that the Swedes have for the Blå och Guld.

Sometimes, we play a golf game pretending that it’s the “Ryder Cup.” In that situation, I have no problem representing the Stars and Stripes. Yet, when they ask the question who I will be rooting for in this year’s Ryder Cup, here is my answer. You can capture it in Evernote, if you wish.

The fiery difference between the two teams has blurred. So many Euros now live in the USA and play on the PGA Tour. In all honesty, the Euro fans ferocious support of the team is confusing. The Americans have no problem rooting for the USA. They all come from the same country and all share the same customs and values. For the Europeans it is quite different. For the most part, citizens of different countries over here have not embraced a European Union. They only wildly cheer and drape themselves with and wave the European Union flag every two years.

I have no clear favorite. I won’t be unhappy no matter who wins.

What I root for is, after three days of fantastic golf, that the winner comes down to the last putt on the last hole of the last day.

Let the games begin.


Road to the 2014 Ryder Cup

Swedish Golf Online will be bringing daily updates and stories regarding the 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles, Scotland. What better way to start off then showing a video review of Sweden’s own Henrik Stenson. As the #3 ranked golfer in the world, Henrik will be a key cog in the European Team defense of the Ryder Cup.

 


Golf South STHLM – the New Paradigm?

Unknown-1Sweden is no different than any other golfing country. The Swedish golf clubs are in a scramble to stem the loss of current players and the need to develop new sources of revenues.

If you are a club trying to fix this situation by staying with the same old blueprint, the golf industry is moving to a new paradigm.

This weekend an announcement in the Stockholm area gave an example of this new paradigm . Two of this area’s Top 10 golf clubs, Kalfors and Vidbynas, announced a joint venture called, “Golf South Sthlm.” As of September 15, 2014 the two clubs become one operation. All membership, sponsorship packages, corporate golf and green fees is now handled by the new company .

There have been co-operations and mergers before in Sweden. What makes this agreement so special is that it involves two of Sweden’s top-shelf golf courses .

Vidbynäs has the North Course and South Course for 36 holes. Kallfors has an 18-hole course, a 9 hole course and the Järnäs GK’s nine holer, as well.

Anyone who is a member of one of the clubs now gets free play on a total of 72 holes. The annual fee for 2015 will be 5995 Swedish crowns (about $ 842 ) for play on all courses any day of the week. That is a spectacular offer.

Bosse Olsson is the principal shareholder of Vidbynäs Golf AB. He said, “We have been working for some time to find a long-term plan for the development of Vidbynäs. That we have found it with Kallfors feels fantastic. With Golf South Stockholm, we offer southern Stockholm’s most attractive golf concept.”

The focus of the new company will be to give members the best service possible. With Golf South Sthlm having 72 holes to offer, there will always be availability for members play. The new administration is handling the coordination of outings and business golf. This combined administration also provides a significant savings in overhead.

Anna Öqvist is CEO of Kallfors. It’s no surprise of Kallfors’s involvement with this plan. In my experience, Kallfors is one of Sweden’s progressive and proactive golf operations. I talked to Anna and got some information on the new venture.

I asked how the idea came about. Anna answered, ” About three months ago, it became clear to us that we had exhausted our membership growth in our area. We were always trying to schedule events and balancing our members wanting certain tee times. We needed to expand into the Stockholm market for membership and we needed more holes to play.”

Meanwhile, Vidbynas was in need of more members and tee times filled. Discussions began and Golf South Sthlm is the result.

I asked Anna about the membership offer of 6000 krona. That price is LESS than the current membership of either course. Anna said that’s the point.

“We needed to something special to attract new members. The fact is that our membership gives a player 72 holes to choose from. If you can’t get a tee time at one course, there will be one available 20 minutes away. Other benefits are the variety of play and you’re a member of an organization that has three of Stockholm’s best courses.”

Anna continued, “Golf is changing. No longer do most players want to play the same course over and over. They want the opportunity to play different courses during the season. We think we will please our members with our course roster.”