Report on the Swedish Hickory Championship 2014
held at Bro-Bålsta GK
By Dr. Patric Andersson
The 17th Swedish Hickory Championship held at Bro-Bålsta GC on Aug. 1 – 3, was decided in unusually hot weather with temperatures above 90 Fahrenheit degrees, cloudless skies, constant sunshine and little breeze. Situated about 40 kilometers northwest from the Swedish capital Stockholm, Bro-Bålsta GC is famous for being the home club of the golfing legend Annika Sörenstam. Founded in 1982, it also has a reputation of promoting hickory golf. For example, it annually hosts the tournament Bro-Bålsta Hickory Open attracting some 50 players. Designed by the club’s founder, Course Architect Peter Nordwall, the course has been greatly inspired by classic links and heathland courses on the British Isles such as Prestwick, Deal (Royal Cinque Ports GC) and Woking, meaning that players adept at reading undulating greens have practical advantage.
The Swedish Hickory Championship is a stroke-play scratch competition, played in three categories: men, ladies and seniors (i.e., individuals who are older than 64 years of age). While the first category is played over 2 days and 36 holes, the seniors play only 18 holes. For the first time, the ladies also competed over 36 holes. The length of men’s championship course (par 74) was about 6245 yards on the first day and circa 6,460 yards on the second day. In contrast, the courses for the ladies (par 76) and seniors (par 74) covered 5,520 and 5,820 yards, respectively. The first day of the championship was also a venue of the widely popular Swedish Hickory Tour called Golflinks Tour. In 2014 this tour involves 23 tournaments and attracts some 80 avid hickory-golfers.
A total of 104 players participated in the 2014 Swedish Hickory Championship. While the vast majority came from Sweden, there was also 13 entries from abroad: an Australian golf professional (read Perry Somers), a German, four Finns, and seven players from the UK, including the present captain of the European Hickory Grail Team, Nigel Notley. Moreover, Lionel Freedman, the chairman of the World Hickory Open Championship, attended the venue as a non-player to investigate the causes for the Swedish enthusiasm for playing hickory golf.
Obviously, the men’s championship attracts most participants. In this year, it had 77 players. About 75 percent had single digit handicaps and 52 percent had handicaps of less than 6. Notably, this field included six PGA professionals, a 25-year old former Swedish international amateur, a 25-year old former scratch player and three teenagers with low handicaps. In addition, the competitive Swedish golfers, who dominate the hickory championships in the UK and play in the Hickory Grail, participated. On average, the age of the Swedish participants in the men’s championship was about 50 years. Regarding the ladies and seniors championships, there were 11 and 16 participants.
On Aug. 1, the official opening ceremony took place. The father of Annika Sörenstam, Tom Sörenstam, entered the swing-improving machine from the Swedish movie “The Accidental Golfer” and then hit a ball while receiving applauses from the gallery. In connection with the ceremony, the prizes were presented to the winners of a specially organized fourball stableford competition, which was called “Stig-Helmer Competition. This name originates from a Swedish movie character played by the cherished actor, film director, musician and artist, Lasse Åberg, who is also a member of Bro-Bålsta GC. For the 17th Swedish Hickory Championship, he specially created a beautiful lithograph that was printed in a limited edition. Each winner of the competitions at the 17th Swedish Hickory Championship obtained a print. The fourball competition was won by Michael Edin and Boris Lietzow (47 points).
At the evening of the first day of the championship, the championship dinner was held. Besides being entertained by the witty toastmaster Per Fylking, the dinner guests also listened to stimulating speeches, which were given by, among others, the chairman of Bro-Bålsta GC Gösta Bonde, the present BGCS-captain Alan Henderson, the chairman of the World Hickory Open Championship Lionel Freedman, as well as the past and present captains of the European Hickory Grail teams: David Kirkwood and Nigel Notley. At the end of the dinner, the prize giving ceremony of the Swedish Senior Hickory Champion took place. The trophy was given to the winner Tomas Tedvik (85 strokes), who managed to stay within a single stroke of the runner-ups Ove Stenbeck and Hans Andersson (86 strokes).
The second day of the 2014 Swedish Hickory championship saw some thrilling actions. By making a hole-in-one on the 13th, which was the first ever ace in the history of the championship, and an eagle on the next hole, the PGA professional Johan Moberg secured his first championship title. His total score of 149 strokes could not be matched by the runner-up Jörgen Isberg (152 strokes), who became the best amateur and for this feat he received a special prize donated by Claes Kvist. The third place was tied between Claes Armå and Perry Somers (153 strokes). The ladies championship turned out to be an exciting duel of the sun between the favorites Frida Rydberg and Eva Adermark, who both shot 169 strokes. By winning the fifth play-off hole, Eva Adermark successfully defended her championship title from 2013. On the third spot was Britta Nord (177 strokes).
On the second day, there was also a stroke play handicap competition. This competition is called “The Swedish Hickory Jug” and is opened for, among others, the seniors as well as those failing to qualify for the second day of the men’s and ladies’ championships. This year’s winner was the Finnish player Antti Paatola (net score = 60).
To sum up, the 17th Swedish Hickory Championship was a true festival of hickory golf. For further details, see www.shm2014.se. Most participants praised the event. Some players even claimed it to be the benchmark for future hickory championships. The organizing committee was pleased that the event was successful and had attracted players from five different countries. I would like to thank all participants for coming and following the motto: “Golf as it used to be played – and as it was meant to be played.”
Click here for a PDF of men’s scores.
Click here for a PDF of ladies’ scores.