Winter in Sweden

I arrived in Halmstad, Sweden late last week after a rather arduous journey from the deserts of Arizona, with a short stop at the home of last week’s WGC – CA tournament…the TPC Blue Monster at Doral. I was able to work with Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, one of my PGA Tour students, early in the week in Miami before heading off to Sweden on this whirlwind trip. Gonzalo putted very well the first three days of the tournament before faltering a bit in the final round to finish  T-37. Gonzalo did wind up 4th in putts per greens in regulation (Putts/GIR) for the week. It was great to see that our work together before the tournament was a benefit to his game.

What a contrast in geography, temperature and architecture over the last week. I’ve gone from the arid deserts of Arizona, to the lush, green high humidity of South Florida, to a significantly colder region of the world that has yet to emerge from winter. You’ll note the photo I took out my window of the Hotel Tylösand just outside Halmstad. That’s snow on those sand dunes! But, the people here are just like those in The States…warm and friendly! Over 80%  of Swedes speak English as a second language (along with 2-3 other European languages they speak with ease), so getting around has been very easy for me during this trip. While we talk about the history of the United States going back 250 years or so, and over 300 years since America was discovered, Halmstad is truly ancient by comparison. The city celebrated its 700th birthday in 2007.

Why am I in Sweden? For those of us lucky enough to be in the golf business, and more specifically the golf teaching business, the thirst for game improvement knows no language or geographic barrier. The PGA of Sweden annually conducts an educational conference for its members so they can learn more about changes in the golf industry…rules, equipment and teaching methods. I was invited to the conference by Johan Hampf of the PGA of Sweden to provide insights into how I coach tour players and amateurs alike, as well as to participate in various other activities during the conference.

On Friday morning, I spoke for a couple of hours about The Art of the Short Game, and then had another 90 minutes in the afternoon to cover The Art of Putting. I had fun conducting a live short game lesson on Saturday morning with Henrik Lundqvist, a top golf teacher in Europe. Henrik has coached Swedish and Belgian national teams, and is involved with the PGA of Norway. Saturday afternoon, my panel had a lively debate on the future of the game. Everyone had a point of view, and the discussions covered a wide range of opinions from the panelists…some like me from inside the golf business, and others who are academicians and industry consultants working for years around the game. What I noted is little different from many of the opinions I hear in Phil’s Grille at Grayhawk. We all agree that we can’t agree on where this business will be in 5 or 10 years. But, the passion for the game and helping people enjoy golf probably united all of us on the panel.

I arrive back in Arizona this week for Spring Break with my family.