Wednesday, 19 June 2013 14:59
If the press conference with Bubba Watson was a softball game, he would be slamming homer after homer with all the softballs he was tossed. In the American press they talk about the questioner who asks for comments so inane that he becomes known as the rally killer. The Swedish golf press conference is one big rally killer.
Unlike other tournaments where the subject sits on a long table in front of the inquisitors, Bubba settled comfortably, if a bit uneasily, into the faux-leather couch and his first Swedish golf press conference began. He didn't need to feel uneasy, because the questioning was beyond differential, it was downright gentle.
Watson, who had outraged the European golf press with his boorish attitude in France a few weeks ago, was asked about the week in Paris and he replied in what has become the stock answer to the incident.
Wtson said he attributed the problem to bad golf. "I played bad golf, shot six over and went home," he said. He also said that the he wasn't intimidated by the proximity of the crowds, but that he "wasn't fearful, he just wasn't used to that." He also brought up the fact about his phobia for big crowds, people behind him, the dark and spiders.
Asked what he thought people might be expecting of his golf this week, Watson quipped, "Aww, nobody cares about me this week." Continuing, he said it would be his length, but that his goals this week are to play good golf, make the cut and to be in contention for the championship on Sunday.
Asked why he came to Sweden, he said this was the year he had planned to travel outside the U.S. to experience the different challenges of other kinds of golf. He chose Sweden because, "it fit my schedule" and he had gotten good feedback from Rickie (Fowler, who played in the event last year.)"Rickie said he didn't play very well, but the country and the people were great and he had a good time."
Watson hasn't played the course yet, but on Tuesday had hit a few off the driving range to judge the difference between Bro Hof Slott and Royal St. George. Asked about his thoughts on the Bro Hof course he said that he heard it was, "long, difficult, lots of water and two par threes in a row (16 & 17). I looked at the green on 18 and they looked to be in good shape." He said that putting would be the key, and if you drive it well and putt, you'll do well." He also remarked that he would be able to play different golf here unlike last week, where he had to hit lower shots because of the wind and the ground was much firmer. He thought that Bro Hof would be much softer and would demand a more American style of golf.
As to his thoughts on Stockholm and Sweden, Watson said that he had a real learning experience. After his guided tour of Stockholm's Old Town he said that those architects had done a pretty good job. The city was beautiful and on his boat ride out to have dinner on Sandhamn, the nearest archipelago island to Stockholm, he was particularly impressed with the houses located along the water.
It seems that the American, Bubba Watson, has learned his French lesson well
Wednesday, 19 June 2013 14:59
This summer, the Swedish Golf Federation will be focused on the guests visiting Sweden's golf courses. The survey results will be offered to the individual golf clubs, to be used in training in the future and to create a so-called guest rating. The survey is being compiled in close cooperation with the firm a: golf.
More clubs in Sweden have removed the requirement for an official handicap to play golf, or the need to be a member. With this new market opening by itself. the Swedish Golf Federation has conducted several surveys to get the facts about the how its individual members like golf and their membership in the SGF.
" Today, many golf clubs have a good idea of what their members think about their facility. However, the knowledge of what their guests think is not as good," says Jan Ekblom, Manager of Business Information at the Swedish Golf Federation.
The work is being greatdone in close cooperation with the firm a: golf that has considerable experience in conducting customer surveys. After playing on a golf courses as a guest been, the player will get an email with short, simple questions.
"With GIT, (Golf IT system) we are able to ask many of the golfing guests via email. We are doing something that hotels have done for years and it is invaluable to their business," said Ekblom
All participating clubs can login at no cost and they can track how their customers perceive their visits. The results will also be used for educational purposes.
"With this approach, a club can make small changes from one day to another. You can get tips and ideas for major changes that will make your golf course a more attractive facility. Today, we have over 480 affiliated sites and over 500 000 registered golfers. There are many guest visits during the holiday months. I can not believe that someone would not be interested in what their customers think," Ekblom said.
A background for our readers from outside of Sweden.
The Swedish golf system is that every golf club is a private club. To play golf you had to be a member of the Swedish Golf Federation and the local club itself. This was accomplished by having the golfer pay their member's fee to the SGF as part of their club's membership fee.
To be a member in the SGF, you had to have a handicap. To play golf on a golf course, that handicap had to be a minimum of 36. To earn that 36, you had to enlist a club pro and learn the game basics. The pro would validate your "green card", which now said you had a handicap that made it possible for you to play golf.
There are some courses open to the public, with no handicap requirements. These are called "Pay and Plays" and are usually less challenging and have inferior maintenance.
This system worked from the mid-60's to around 2005, during the Swedish Golf Boom. Membership reached almost 600,000 members. Then, membership began to slip, and by 2009, the old system was beginning to erode. Clubs began to look for any and all ways to build up their daily plays, from reduced membership fees, no handicap requirements and creative marketing.
Today, the golf industry in Sweden is a very competitive one with many clubs competing for fewer available golfers. For the first time in nearly fifty years, golf club managers need more than membership fees to survive. Like any other leisure activity business, Swedish golf clubs have to do more to attract customers.
Wednesday, 19 June 2013 14:59
At the U.S. Senior Open Qualifier conducted at Greensboro Country Club on June 27th, Mikael Högberg became the first Swedish golfer in history to qualify for the U.S. Senior Open. Högberg, age 51, fired the second-lowest round, a 68, and survived a playoff to earn one of three spots for this year's U.S. Senior Open to be held at Inverness Country Club outside of Toldeo, Ohio July 25-31, 2011.
Högberg is a senior executive of Volvo and for the past five years resides in Greensboro, North Carolina with his wife and daughter. Högberg manages worldwide sales of Volvo Construction Equipment .
He honed his game early competing at the elite levels in Swedish national events and is a former PGA European Tour player. He has helped coach his daughter's high school golf team, the Greensboro Grimsley Whirles, leading them to consecutive top-five finishes in the North Carolina High School Golf State Championship.
Wednesday, 19 June 2013 14:59
Sustainability permeates through the entire business of Kristianstad Golf Club. That attention to the environment has earned the club an International Environment Certification," announced Lars Harald of the Kristianstad Golf Club, a 36 hole facility located outside of Åhus, Sweden .
It is the Golf Environment Organization (GEO) awarded Kristianstad GK the certification. The GEO is an international non-profit dedicated to helping golf achieve its potential as a social, economic and environmental asset. Partnering throughout the industry to establish golf’s sustainability agenda and inspire progress, GEO provides streamlined guidance and practical tools across the areas of management, development, and events. GEO’s certification programs are the most credible, comprehensive eco-labels available for existing golf facilities and new developments. GEO is supported by a global network of partners, patrons, scientists, thought-leaders, corporate and individual sponsors, and industry representatives. Some of the major organizations GEO works with include The European Tour, European Golf Association, WWF, UNEP, the Club Managers Associations of Europe, America, and China and The R&A.
"When we decided we would build the new golf course and bought the land from the municipality, we took the environment and sustainability work seriously," said Lars Harald, chairman of the club's environmental committee. "A prerequisite for us to buy the land was that we would engage in environmental activities in accordance with international practice."
"The course is situated in the Kristianstad Vattenrike which was designated by UNESCO as a biosphere reserve in 2005. The goal is to create a multi-functional golf course where you can use the area of the golf course for other things than golf," says Harald.
Around the golf course is a walking trail where people stroll and enjoy the unique natural environment. A few times a year the golf club arranges special tours. This coming Sunday, June 19, will be hosting a walk under the name "The Wild Flowers Day".
"Our staff is highly trained in environmental work. We see it as good marketing to be in the forefront of helping the environment. Golf definitely needs to improve its reputation on the environment. There are probably many non-golfers who think that golf courses are eco-villains," says Harald.
On Kristianstad Golf Club's Environmental Committee is Carina Wettemark, who is a representative of the wetlands and the municipality. She is very happy with the environmental efforts of the club. "The conservation, the development and the marketing are in line with what the municipality wants," says Wettemark.
At a ceremony on June 13, the golf club gave Maria Strandberg, who is responsible for research and development for the Swedish Golf Federation and a member of GEO's environmental certification board a special environment flag.
There are a total of 30 clubs in the world that have received this award. Ljunghusen GK and Forsgården GK are two other Swedish clubs that have received the GEO Certification.
Wednesday, 19 June 2013 14:59
Augusta, Georgia, U.S.A. remains home to more than just one championship golf institution. Augusta State University's men's golf team secured its second consecutive NCAA national title, beating the Georgia Bulldogs three matches to two at Stillwater, Oklahoma's Karsten Creek on Sunday. ASU's departing senior class will go down as one of the most successful in college golf history. Augusta State becomes the first back-to-back NCAA golf champion since the Houston Cougars in 1984 and 1985.
Augusta State head coach Josh Gregory was still at work, writing his victory speech on the back of a pin sheet, even after the season had ended in a second consecutive NCAA Championship. That’s how dedicated Gregory is to his craft.
That passion has attracted players from across the globe to Augusta State. Many of them were overlooked and underrated, unlike the golf course that makes their city famous.
“Match play rewards the team that plays best under pressure,” Augusta State senior Mitchell Krywulycz said. “It doesn’t necessarily reward the best team, but every match is under the pump, all the time, every hole.”
The Jaguars proved they thrive in such situations, beating three of the nation’s premier programs – Georgia Tech, Oklahoma State and Georgia – in match play at Karsten Creek. Augusta State competes at Division II in every sport except golf. It has more women’s sports than men’s.
“It doesn’t matter how big your budget is, how many private planes you have, how many scholarships you have,” Gregory said. “If you can find a way to get players that believe, that’s all that counts.”
The Jaguars couldn’t have asked for a better way to part ways. All five players at Karsten Creek, as well as Gregory, were wearing a Jaguars uniform for the final time.
Patrick Reed, who clinched the NCAA Championship with a 2-and-1 victory over Georgia’s Harris English, left Karsten Creek on Sunday en route to Memphis, Tenn., where he will make his professional debut at this week’s FedEx St. Jude Classic. Henrik Norlander will leave Augusta on Tuesday to play the Palmer Cup – college golf’s version of the Ryder Cup – then begin his professional career in Europe. Gregory is headed to Dallas, where he will become the head coach of his alma mater, SMU.
“I woke up this morning and looked at my wife and said, ‘This is the last day for all of us,’ ” Gregory said. “I thought about these five guys and what they’ve done over the past two years, and all I could think about is, this is how we want to go out.”
Gregory is as much a friend as a coach to his players. “We have a son, but we also have 11 other boys,” Ashley Gregory said.
Josh Gregory was a 27-year-old assistant coach at North Carolina State when he was named Augusta State’s head coach in 2002.
Reed, a first-team All-American this season, transferred to Augusta State in 2009 after one year at Georgia; his family now lives in Augusta. Sweden’s Norlander and Australia’s Krywulycz both were headed for other schools. Norlander came to Augusta State, where his friend, Kalle Edberg, played, after some high-school credits didn’t transfer to Minnesota. Krywulycz traveled to the United States to visit Georgia Southern, the alma mater of countryman Aron Price; Krywulycz’s mother, Mandy, reasoned that if they were going to travel across the globe, they may as well visit nearby Augusta State. “She’s a very smart woman,” Mitchell said.
Carter Newman was an unrecruited kid from nearby Evans, Ga., who wanted to venture away from his hometown, but was drawn by Gregory’s passion. Newman improved greatly in his time at Augusta State, winning last year’s Rice Planters, a top regional event in the Southeast, and making match play in last year’s U.S. Amateur. He went 3-0 in match play this week, including a 7-and-5 victory over Georgia’s T.J. Mitchell.
“It’s special to win two national championships, being from Augusta,” Newman said. “You can’t beat that.”
No player was more impressive this week than Reed, though. He finished third in stroke play and was the only Jaguar other than Newman to go undefeated in match play. He beat U.S. Amateur champion Peter Uihlein, 8 and 7, in the semifinals, then clinched Augusta State’s title with his 2-and-1 victory over Harris English, another candidate for this year’s Walker Cup team.
“We’re all glad to win, but ... we’re sad it’s over because that means all of us are going in different directions,” Reed said.
At least they were together long enough to make some history.
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