Really, On the Level

They say that the simplist ideas are always the best. I’m hoping a golfing carpenter came up with this idea.

SGO doesn’t often talk about golf equipment, but this piece was so simple you wondered why it took 400 years or so to come up with it. The Levelhead.


USA 2014 Ryder Cup Announced

Here is a breakdown of United States captain Tom Watson’s 12-man roster for the 40th Ryder Cup, which will be played Sept. 26-28 at PGA Centenary Course in Gleneagles, ScotlandClick here for European team capsules. The Europeans are the reigning champion, having won, 14 1/2-13 1/2 at Medinah Country Club in 2012.

Bubba WatsonBubba Watson

Age: 35

Record: 3-5-0 (3rd appearance)

World ranking: 9

PGA Tour victories: 6

The lowdown: Equipped with game-changing length, Watson should have a huge advantage on a course that likely will play long and soft – if he can stay mentally in the game. He’ll have to turn around his recent form, however, as he has no top 10s since June.

Rickie FowlerRickie Fowler

Age: 25

Record: 0-1-2 (2nd appearance)

World ranking: 11

PGA Tour victories: 1

The lowdown: He’s arguably the team’s best player, with no finish outside the top 13 since June. Fowler will look to ride the momentum of his last Ryder Cup overseas, when he made four consecutive birdies in singles to steal a half point.

Jim FurykJim Furyk

Age: 44

Record: 9-17-4 (9th appearance)

World ranking: 7

PGA Tour victories: 16

The lowdown: The grizzled veteran is enjoying the most consistent year of his career, albeit without a victory. Though he has a troubling record in this event, he is quick to remind that he’s also been a part of numerous losing teams.

Jimmy WalkerJimmy Walker

Age: 35

Record: Rookie

World ranking: 19

PGA Tour victories: 3

The lowdown: The power player has cooled a bit since his torrid start to the season, but his solid all-around game should make him an ideal partner.

Phil MickelsonPhil Mickelson

Age: 44

Record: 14-18-6 (10th appearance)

World ranking: 10

PGA Tour victories: 42

The lowdown: This is his team with Tiger Woods at home. Mickelson will likely partner withKeegan Bradley and perhaps Rickie Fowler during team play, and this is an opportunity for Lefty to end his most frustrating season on a high note.

Matt KucharMatt Kuchar

Age: 36

Record: 3-2-2 (3rd appearance)

World ranking: 8

PGA Tour victories: 7

The lowdown: Kooch has the perfect temperament for match play, and his record proves it – he’s undefeated in team play in two previous Ryder Cup appearances. His game clearly travels everywhere, which is good news for the U.S., because he comes in riding four consecutive top 15s.

Jordan SpiethJordan Spieth

Age: 21

Record: Rookie

World ranking: 14

PGA Tour victories: 1

The lowdown: Perhaps not as sharp as he was at this time last year, Spieth is a firecracker who knows how to win in match play, whether it’s at the U.S. Junior (two-time winner), NCAA Championship (helped Texas win title) or WGC-Match Play (T-5).

Patrick ReedPatrick Reed

Age: 24

Record: Rookie

World ranking: 27

PGA Tour victories: 3

The lowdown: A sleeper to lead the U.S. in points, Reed went 6-0 in match play while leading Augusta State to back-to-back national titles. He should thrive while playing in a hostile environment.

Zach JohnsonZach Johnson

Age: 38

Record: 6-4-1 (4th appearance)

World ranking: 15

PGA Tour victories: 11

The lowdown: It’s been a quiet summer, save for the runner-up at the Deere, but he’s a gritty competitor who should match up favorably with any potential partner.

Keegan BradleyKeegan Bradley

Age: 28

Record: 3-1-0 (2nd appearance)

World ranking: 23

PGA Tour victories: 3

The lowdown: Eats, sleeps and breathes the Ryder Cup, which made him a no-brainer choice as a captain’s pick. If he and Mickelson can pick up off where they left off at Medinah, look out.

Hunter MahanHunter Mahan

Age: 32

Record: 3-2-3 (3rd appearance)

World ranking: 20

PGA Tour victories: 6

The lowdown: His late-season surge cemented his place on the team, after a top 15 at Bridgestone, top 10 at Valhalla and then a victory at the playoff-opening Barclays. He also seeks redemption after what happened during the Americans’ last trip across the pond,

Webb SimpsonWebb Simpson

Age: 29

Record: 2-2-0 (2nd appearance)

World ranking: 32

PGA Tour victories: 4

The lowdown: Simpson has been hit-or-miss for the past few months, so his T-9 at Deutsche Bank was good timing. He’s also a good teammate, above-average putter and easy-matching partner.

Stenson Helps in the Defense – Euro Team Revealed

Here is a breakdown of European captain Paul McGinley‘s 12-man roster for the 40th Ryder Cup, which will be played Sept. 26-28 in Gleneagles, Scotland. The Europeans are the reigning champion, having won, 14 1/2-13 1/2 at Medinah Country Club in 2012.

Rory McIlroy

Age: 25

Record: 4-3-2 (3rd appearanceeuro_rory_mcilroy1

World ranking: 1

PGA Tour/European Tour victories: 9/9 (4 exclusive to European Tour)

The lowdown: The world’s best player, McIlroy likely will be sent out in all five sessions. Traditionally, he’s partnered with Graeme McDowell in team play, but Sergio Garcia could form a new dynamic duo.

Henrik StensonHenrik Stenson

Age: 38

Record: 2-3-2 (3rd appearance)

World ranking: 3

PGA Tour/European Tour victories: 4/8 (7)

The lowdown: After a remarkable 2013 season, the Swede has done everything but win this year, posting six top-5 finishes, including at last month’s PGA.

Victor DubuissonVictor Dubuisson

Age: 24

Record: Rookie

World ranking: 21

PGA Tour/European Tour victories: 0/1

The lowdown: The mysterious Frenchman did most of his damage in the early part of the European Tour’s wraparound schedule, winning the Turkish Airlines Open and finishing third in the DP World Tour Championship. U.S. fans recall his all-world scrambling ability in the WGC-Match Play final.

Jamie DonaldsonJamie Donaldson

Age: 38

Record: Rookie

World ranking: 28

PGA Tour/European Tour victories: 0/3

The lowdown: In a last-ditch effort to make the team, the Welshman added the Czech Masters to his schedule, then rallied on the final day to win. He also finished T-2 at Doral and posted back-to-back top-10s in July.

Sergio GarciaSergio Garcia

Age: 34

Record: 16-8-4 (7th appearance)

World ranking: 4

PGA Tour/European Tour victories: 8/11

The lowdown: Since April, the Spaniard has five top-3 finishes worldwide, including a run of three consecutive runners-up on the PGA Tour (Travelers, British Open, Bridgestone).

Justin RoseJustin Rose

Age: 34

Record: 6-3-0 (3rd appearance)

World ranking: 5

PGA Tour/European Tour victories: 6/7 (5)

The lowdown: A top-25 machine, the Englishman won back-to-back events in July (Quicken Loans, Scottish Open), though he failed to record a top-10 in a major this season.

Martin KaymerMartin Kaymer

Age: 29

Record: 3-2-0 (3rd appearance)

World ranking: 12

PGA Tour/European Tour victories: 3/11 (8)

The lowdown: It’s been a tale of two seasons for the German. He scored huge victories at The Players and U.S. Open, but those represent his only top-10s since last November.

Thomas BjornThomas Bjorn

Age: 43

Record: 3-2-1 (3rd appearance)

World ranking: 26

PGA Tour/European Tour victories: 0/15

The lowdown: One of the most consistent performers on the Euro Tour this season, Bjorn had top-10s at two of the biggest tournaments he played, the Masters (T-8) and BMW PGA (T-3).

Graeme McDowellGraeme McDowell

Age: 35

Record: 5-5-2 (4th appearance)

World ranking: 16

PGA Tour/European Tour victories: 2/10 (9)

The lowdown: Five consecutive top-10s this summer, including a come-from-behind victory at the French Open, sealed his spot on the team. He earned the last spot via qualifying, despite sitting out the final week to be with his wife and newborn daughter.

Lee WestwoodLee Westwood

Age: 41

Record: 18-13-6 (9th appearance)

World ranking: 38

PGA Tour/European Tour victories: 2/23

The lowdown: With a few newcomers on the squad, it’ll be calming to have Westwood in the team room, as this is the Englishman’s ninth career appearance. He hasn’t displayed the best form lately, but he had top-7s at the Masters and The Players, with a Malaysian Open victory mixed in. Top-20s at Bridgestone and PGA helped, too.

Ian PoulterIan Poulter

Age: 38

Record: 12-3-0 (5th appearance)

World ranking: 36

PGA Tour/European Tour victories: 2/12 (10)

The lowdown: It’s been a forgettable, injury-plagued season for the Englishman, but his fearsome match-play record – and his heroics from 2012 – essentially reserved him a spot on the team.

Stephen GallacherStephen Gallacher

Age: 39

Record: Rookie

World ranking: 33

PGA Tour/European Tour victories: 0/3

The lowdown: Nearly qualified on his own, finishing third in Italy when a T-2 finish was required. Still, his eight top-10s this season were the most of any player on the European Tour, and his history with Gleneagles (lives 40 kilometers away, lost in a playoff there last year) made Paul McGinley’s decision an easy one.

Many thanks to the Golf Channel

The Helsingborg Open – An Overview

The 2014 Helsingborg Open arrives at the Vasatorp Golf Club, a few kilometers south of Helsingborg, Sweden.

images-3Sweden’s only Ladies European Tour event’s field has both veteran and up and coming golf stars. The tournament begins Thursday, September 4, 2014.

The Helsingborg Open helps the Swedish tour player, Helen Alfredsson, fight against Alzheimer’s. The major title holder’s mother suffered from Alzheimer’s. Helen devotes her time to raising awareness and money to help find a cure for this tragic illness.

“It has become important to me to engage in this, not just to find the cure, but also to take away the shame. For relatives and friends, this is the worst thing I have experienced. You do not talk about it, so that those who have a family member afflicted feel even more alone,” says Alfredsson

Vasatorp Golf Club has two 18 hole golf courses. The Old Course has park and forest character. After extensive renovation, the Old Course re-opened July 2013. The course name changed to the Classic Course. The course strategy changed from the renovation. Depending on which tee you choose to play from the Classic Course will give you the taste of how playing golf once was . The Classic Course is 4700 meters from the main tees and 6200 yards from the tips. This charming heirloom from golf’s past will give you all you can handle. The Classic Course proves once again that distance off the tee does not a golf game make.

Representing modern golf at Vasatorp is the TC 18. The Tournament Course is a championship course with links character. The designer is the American Steve Forrest. Steve says that the TC is one of the coolest courses he’s designed. The course has six tees per hole giving the TC six different looks depending on which tee you choose to play from. The track is 4700 meters from the main tees and a whopping 6700 yards from the rear tees. Still, the TC gives the pro’s a tough go.

If you plan to come to the Helsingborg Open, Swedish Golf Online has three courses near to Vasatorp that are worth your time to play.

A Swedish Golf Investors Alert

“Bulls, Birdies, Bogeys & Bears: The Remarkable and Revealing Relationship Between Golf & Investment Markets” by Kevin Armstrong

Dagens Industri is the Wall Street Journal or Financial Times of Sweden. In the August 19, 2014 edition, Martin Blomgren does a piece on the shrinking numbers in the golf industry.

Blomgren says clubs grapple with a dwindling membership. Lower fixed revenues to cover operations being the result.
Martin then dangles a few reasons for the decline. Time of play, youngsters not interested in the game and a general lack of membership development.

Blomgren points out that Sweden is not alone on this issue. He notes that golf in the USA is in the same position. The USA suffers from dwindling numbers, lack of younger players and golf courses going out of business. Of course, the tried and true twin problems of time and cost to play are also included.

Getting to the gist of his piece, Blomgren says that this week, chances are that more companies will feel the chilly weather of golf. Aha! The market doesn’t care about Golf’s problems. It cares about those poor investors quarterly earnings.

Blomgren finishes with an assessment. Any investor in the golf related equipment companies must realize the fact that this downturn will drag out.

Fewer members playing less causes lower sales of clubs, balls and golf apparel. That adds pressure on those stock margins.

The news of dwindling play, etc. has continued for a decade. No one seems to have an answer to correct this issue short of tricks like 15″ cups, dual holes on greens and “Hack Golf.”

One possibility that Mr. Blomgren did not forward is the golf industry may be the cause of this drop in clothing and equipment sales .

In this go-go world of the 21st Century, companies no longer allow equipment to sell through. With every issue of a golf periodical, the Big Three manufacturers release some new piece of equipment. These companies’ R&D departments have unlimited budgets. It’s not hard to imagine that an average golfer’s budget for new equipment is a little less.

Inventories overload when retailers must carry the new release before the sell through of the last release. To fulfill their contract obligations retailers have no choice but to stock up.

Yes, Mr. Blomgren, golf has its problems. Investments in golf and clothing companies is not one of them. Investors in these companies already know of golf’s chilly weather forecast. After all, they’ve had a decade to read up on it.


The Return of Swedish Golf Online

The Majors are over. The final event of the 2014 PGA Tour Unknownis over. There’s a feeling in the air here in Sweden that says Fall is just around the corner. Who, in their right mind, would re-re-launch a golf website this time of the year?

Why, I would, of course!

Swedish Golf Online has been on the web since 2009. It has been through some changes and attitudes. None were exactly what I wanted the website to be. Finally, after much reflection, I feel Swedish Golf Online is close to what I want.

First – Swedish Golf Online has a fresh look. The web site will work on all platforms: PC, smart phones and pads.
I made a simple change to golf in Sweden and places I have a visited. Divided now into Europe, the USA and other places around the world, we will add new places as I go to experience them.

Second – Since my first visit to this country, I believe that Sweden should be and could be a destination for golf tourism. Despite the lack of enthusiasm by the Swedish golf establishment, I still do. Swedish Golf Online will be my portal to spread that word. It will give an outsider’s view of Swedish golf. That view will come from an outsider who has experienced Swedish golf himself for the last decade.

I’m proud of the accomplishments of Swedish Golf Online in the past. I hope this new look and attitude will attract more readers in the future. Golfing in Sweden is something that every golfer should experience once in their life.

Hack Golf? Don’t most of us play that, already?

Much has been written in recent years about the slow, steady decline of golf as a participant sport. The usual rationale for the lack of new participants in the game is because golf takes too much time in an era of increased competition for leisure hours and, another, is golf remains too difficult to play.

Despite technological advances that have allowed the best players to increase their distance, better equipment hasn’t done much, if anything, for most golfers, the recreational golfer.

People under 35 have spurned the game, saying not only does golf take too long to play, it is too difficult to learn and has too many tiresome rules.

In comparison, skiing, which enjoyed a resurgence amidst golf’s downturn, put together user-friendly improvements in equipment with standardized instruction to greatly accelerate the learning process. Today, a rank novice can take a single day of lessons and be skiing beginner trails from top to bottom. Not so for golf, which has done nothing to shorten its long learning process, at best, and in most cases, lasting the golfer’s entire life.

To date most industry efforts to “fix” golf have centered on faster playing alternatives to the traditional 18-hole course. As far back as 2007, Jack Nicklaus was advocating 12-hole designs as the new normal. Another PGA Tour superstar turned top designer, Greg Norman, has suggested 6-hole courses. There are other thoughts on the problem, as well.

Increasingly a victim of its own image and conservative ways, golf has lost five million players in the last decade, according to the National Golf Foundation, with 20 percent of the existing 25 million golfers apt to quit in the next few years. Sweden is no exception, losing about 15% of its golf players since 2005.


Now, the group, HackGolf, backed by the deep pockets of top equipment and clothing manufacturer Taylor Made-adidias Golf, is trying to tackle the difficulty side of the equation by making golf easier.

Its website is devoted to “…making golf more fun…” and plans to “…(take) the best ideas… through real world experiments and then ramp them up as accepted. The goal is to alter the game’s reputation in order to recruit lapsed golfers and a younger demographic.

Many of golf’s leaders are so convinced the sport is in danger of following the baby boomer generation into the grave that an internal rebellion has led to alternative forms of golf with new equipment, new rules and radical changes to courses.

HackGolf recently did just that, debuting the 15-inch golf hole. Immediately following the Masters, TaylorMade sponsored golfers Sergio Garcia and Justin Rose headlined a field that tried the new concept at Georgia’s Reynolds Plantation, a Ritz-Carlton hotel and luxury resort. Offering a dinner plate sized target that should make a three putt all but impossible and dramatically increase the number of birdies, eagles and, of course, holes in one.

They installed 15-inch cups and played 9-holes, Garcia shooting 30 and Rose 33, which frankly are not especially low scores. However, it also stands to reason that since they are so much better they benefit less from the increased size than the average player would.

When HackGolf debuted the system at the Pauma Valley Country Club in San Diego, Hack Golf said that the new cups reduced the length of an 18-hole round from 4:30 to 3:45, while many golfers saw a 10-stroke improvement in scores.

No matter how many advantages the tests show, it is unlikely the USGA and R&A change the hole size anytime soon. Then again, so few recreational players closely follow the rules of golf now, that the official version hardly matters if people are having more fun.

Mark King, CEO of TaylorMade-adidas Golf

“It is clear our game needs something to recapture the incredible growth and momentum we were experiencing a decade ago,” said Mark King, CEO of TaylorMade-adidas Golf, via a press release. “Whether it is this 15-inch-cup concept or an idea that comes in from outside the industry, we need to spark a revolution that will bring new participants to the game.”

In Sweden, the “solution” to their shrinkage is to get the “kids” interested. Could Hack Golf be a tool? The drawback is that Sweden is so competition oriented, they will need to switch to “normal” golf eventually. Will that be easier for the golfer or difficult? What if they don’t want to switch?

Many of golf’s leaders are so convinced that golf is in danger of following the baby boomers into the grave that has led the uprising to alternative golf with new equipment, new rules and radical changes to golf courses. The goal is to alter the game’s infamy to recruit lapsed golfers and younger demographics.

Huge holes and free mulligans can’t fix that situation.