More English blogging…

No, I have not gone completely by the wayside. There is actually a bit of English blogging on my current (otherwise Swedish) blogg. See:

Presenting at the PGA TCC 2014

No, I am not making a comeback. But, I presented at the PGAs of Europe’s Teaching and Coaching Conference in Scotland on September the 22nd, 2014. A bit more grey hair than in the header of this blog, but apart from that I felt good to be back in golf. Presentation available on the below link: PGA TCC 2014_PeterMattsson Follow me on Twitter if you so wish or why not visit my new blog, which will be in Swedish though! Check out the PGA TCC here. And also… The 2nd Edition of Golf Steps to Success is now available. Click here. Golf Steps to Success


Job done!

Six years in the service of the English Golf Union and it is about time I summarise and wrap things up. I know that many people like to have a bit of a break between jobs to reflect and gather momentum for the new tasks that lie ahead. Whether the two hour lunch with my wife that I had on Friday can count as a gap in between comittments I am not entirely sure! Yesterday was my first day in the new job and today I am back in the old one again. So rather than keeping things nice and tidy with well defined start and stop dates I think I am doing everything against better knowledge. But, I guess that is what is called a gradual change. Any addiction needs careful treatment and I think my English Golf habit is best dealt with this way.

As I am embarking on my new challenge, to Direct the Elite Performance programmes of Swedish Sports, it is impossible not to reflect on the 6 very enjoyable years that I have had at the EGU. Without a doubt these years have been the steepest learning curve that I have experienced in my professional life. I am proud of what we have accomplished. Great results are just that – great. What counts though is the culture in which those results are produced. Only because that is the only indicator of future success. I believe that I now leave an organisation that is open and receptive to both praise and criticism and most importantly, have a habit of looking within to try to find an answer to whatever it might be that could be improved. When I today meet with the Coaching Committee the University of Central Lancashire are coming to present their findings from a study they have undertaken to give an independant view of the situation in the England Coaching programme. They have interviewed a large number of players and officials and contrasted the findings against both what we (I) have said that we want to be and against what the litterature suggests that a good talent development system should look like. I know all too well that when they present it is not the detail in what they say but the manner in which any suggested improvement is later dealt with that will determine England’s progress in the future. I am comfortable that this is left to a number of open minded and well equipped people that will carry an already successful programme forward.

When I left the Swedish Golf Federation a long time ago I quoted John Cougar Mellencamp. This time I think there is room for an old classic:

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

With that I will take a break from this blog. After all I cannot be DOC-blogging anymore. In some shape or form I will be back though. I will update my profiles on LinkedIn, Plaxo, Facebook and what have you, so if you would like to stay in touch please look out for me there. Until the EGU have a new DOC in place I will retain a small consultancy role but for day to day issues your best option is now to go straight to HQ.

Moving house

No, I have not stopped blogging altogether. Instead, I have been busy moving house. Packing boxes, moving boxes and unpacking boxes. Not the most exciting mental stimulation perhaps. As I stand there, up to my ears with boxes and furniture all in the wrong places, I suddenly realise what a great analogy for life a house move is. Have you ever cleared a house after a deceased parent or grand parent that had lived in their house for a long time? 50 years in the same house does no doubt collect some stuff, usually in the loft and in every corner of the basement. Regular house moves are good chances to both mentally and physically close one chapter of life and start on the next.

When Clive Woodward took over England Rugby he described the process as ‘cleaning the garage’. You take everything out of the garage, clean the floor, and then you return only the things that you need. For some this is a really scary process and for others, me included, it is very satisfactory. It means we can get other new and exciting stuff into the garage!

I wonder though what a mental house move would be like? Imagine that you could stop for a while and be able to pack all the thoughts, values and principles as well as knowledge that you carry around in boxes. Or you could actually choose to clear some of them out. Dump them at the nearest brain station. What would get to stay? What would you then start filling your new house with?

I think I have had it for a while now with physical house moves. A regular mental one I reckon could be a good idea though! I would hate for somebody to have to clear my brain out 50 years from now as I can only too well imagine the kind of rubbish they would find!

The top 5

I was asked by a journalist today to put together my list of top 5 courses on the continent of Europe. That means outside of Great Britain and Ireland. As I sat there reflecting I felt I just couldn’t do another list of great course. Anybody could do that by checking previous lists and and adding a bit of their own experience. That just did not feel right. And besides the number of courses that I have played in Europe is limited. I tend to experience golf courses from the sideline. From the rough, outside the ropes or just on a decent distance away from where the playing takes place.

Therefore I turned into John Cusack. You know, when he plays the lead character in High Fidelity. The film based on Nick Hornby’s excellent book. He spends his days producing top 10 lists and does not really care about the fact that the customers in his record store are more interested in their own lists than buying his albums. I did my very own top 5 list of European Golf courses! It won’t tick everybody’s box but it will be unique to me!

As I slowly come to think about my new job, starting in early October, that uniqueness is something I come back to. How do you make Sweden’s Elite Performance in Sport the best in the World? There is only one way. It has got to be unique!

And if you wonder what is unique with Sweden, Google the Daily Show + Sweden. Jon Stewart discusses the fears of America turning into Sweden. Simply hilarious!

And my list? Check the next edition of Golf World!

What next?

The Walker Cup is soon here and with that possibly the biggest moment of the amateur career of the players’ taking part. This means now is the time for speculation about what will happen next. As I scan through some of the written stuff on the web this morning I come across two rather interesting articles. One is about Peter Uihlein going to qualifying school this autumn. Bearing in mind that he up until last week was the reigning US Amateur Champion with an amateur record that most could only dream about this would not be strange at all. If it wasn’t for the last bit of the article that says that even if he makes it (gets his card), he will not turn professional until after the NCAA Championships in 2012 (which he will play with his school, Oklahoma University). The only reason he is going to Q-school is that he hopes to strengthen his brand with a view to better his chances for sponsor’s invitations post June 2012. By then he will (probably) have his degree and be ready to focus entirely on his golf.

The second interesting article was about Michelle Wie taking half term a little bit early to go and play the Solheim Cup. Miss Wie is a student at Stanford, something she combines with playing the LPGA Tour. I guess just instead of playing the normal college programme that regular student-athletes would do. Quite amazing if you ask me.

Is there a lesson to be learned here? Will Peter Uihlein and Michelle Wie go on to rule the World of Golf? Quite possibly. Will they be rounded, competent people with a solid ground to stand on, both feet, no matter what they end up doing in the future? Most definitely!

What I call a deal!

The other day it was revealed that Manchester United has just struck a deal with logistics company DHL. The value of the deal varied in the media, somewhere between £4M per year and £10M per year. As it is over four years (some articles claimed three) that makes the total somewhere in the range of £16M to £40M! No matter if it is the higher or the lower figure that is correct, that is no short of A LOT of money. And if you take into account what the deal is for, it is simply mind blowing. They have sold their training shirts! TRAINING SHIRTS! Alright, there is a lot more in there obviously such as business to business opportunities, marketing using all sorts of platforms and access to Old Trafford for certain events.

No doubt DHL will have checked twice if this agreement is worth the money. A little bit further down in the news bulletin that I got my hands on it talks about another part of the agreement. This is where DHL will work with the Manchester United Foundation in the development of a series of programmes to improve the lives of vulnerable young people in local communities. I think this in business language would spell CSR. Corporate Social Responsibility. Something that is getting more and more popular among major corporations, thank God. At the same time, there is no substitute for the kind of exposure that top end sport give. The beauty of Manchester United therefore is that they in this agreement offer both.

This is also where it becomes difficult for golf with the fragmented structure that we have got. One organisation offers top end golf. Well, numerous if you look across men and women and in various parts of the World. Another organisation, or other organisations, offer the grass roots perspective and the social aspects. And then the middle is full of organisations dealing with the so called amateur game. For a DHL that wants to tick all boxes there is simply nowhere to go. I think that is unfortunate!

Is the whole greater than the sum of the parts?

The Great Britain and Ireland Walker Cup Team has just been announced. Ten players ready to go to Aberdeen in early September and play for pride and glory against the Americans. Five of the players are English, one has played before, at Merion in 2009. In our little internal challenge I got 8 players right. My two competitors both got 9. Maybe I should look for another job?

Picking a team is never an exact science. On paper any team from the GB&I should get completely squashed by the American side. Maybe they will be, but yet again, maybe not. Two things could work in favour of GB&I side. One definite and one possible:

The venue is Royal Aberdeen in September. I think most know what that means in terms of weather. The kind of shot making that is required is usually better practised on British links than on American target courses.

The other thing is about whether this team can become a real team or not. That possibility is obviously there for the Americans as well but to level the playing field the GB&I management has just got to the get this right. There are some examples from history where this has happened. Last week in Ireland at the Home Internationals I would argue the English did just this. The TEAM way outperformed the capabilities of the individual players. Together Everyone Achieves More.

My all time favourite of this is the 1980 Olympic ice-hockey final. This made the movies but the reality is much better. The US beat the Soviet Union under the guidance of legendary coach Herb Brooks. I was 10 and remember it as if it had been yesterday. Perhaps there are a few Youtube clips there for Captain Nigel Edwards to tap into?

Major overload

Last time when I wrote about it being a Major week my good friend whose name happens to be Major commented that every week is. As I look to this week and the PGA Championship I almost feel like he is right. Another Major is on the door step!

Last week the WGC at Akron, Ohio, was played and even I feel like I can’t keep up with all the golf that is being played. And I have to say that it feels like all events end up in a bit of a mud where yes, the keen golfers follow and are interested in who is winning but few will remember Adam Scott’s great win last week for that long. I wonder if even the Majors nowadays have the same historic strength where the Champions will live forever? Four of them in a year is quite many, no matter how special they are. And in the women’s game they felt the best way forward was to add one more!

Perhaps five Majors in a year proves to be successful and maybe I don’t know what I am talking about. I just feel that we could help ourselves a bit more by getting more focused. In the amateur game this is more than true. When the calendar was re-arranged a couple of years ago I am afraid things went from bad to worse. Many top amateurs in Europe choose to go to the US to study at college. Because of this most tournament organisers wish to have their event in the window when players come back for the summer. And boy have they succeeded! From May until now there is not a gap to be found. Players are wasted by early July if not before and when they come into the Home Internationals this week one can only hope that there can be some ignition from the team and excitement of the format that will get them to rise to the occasion.

And in fact, quite a few of our players chose not to play last week to be fresh for this week. It was just unfortunate that week had to be the one of the European Championships! Another Major week that is…

Twittering away

Event though I am not on it (yet…), I have to say that Twitter is an interesting medium. Yesterday and the day before there was an intense discussion between Ian Poulter and some of his one million or so followers. Ian had made comments about the, in his eyes, poor scoring at the English Amateur at Woburn. Of course many of the replies came from young, English Amateurs who had all sorts of things to say about how difficult the pins were and how Ian’s own scoring lately has not been that impressive either.

I think there is two things to learn from this discussion;
i) Isn’t it quite amazing that you can get in direct contact with Ian Poulter like this and get his views on various things? I know I sound like I am 150 years old and remember the days when trying to get the phone number to somebody not in the phone book was a task just not possible to accomplish and hence we all lived in our little silos where the super stars were never to meet the real world. At the touch of a button now Poulter is there and many more with him. Many of these guys are frequent Twitterers.
ii) The fact that Ian has a view on the scoring at the English is brilliant. And as he wasn’t just sitting in his Florida home following the scores on the internet – he was actually at Woburn, for two days! – he knows what he is talking about. I have a feeling also that somebody with Ian’s resume knows one or two things about tucked in pins and slopey putts. When Ian says it is not good enough it is most probably not good enoguh – YET. There is the key word. Yet means there is a direction and a movement towards. The guys in this field that realise that what they do at the moment might win them trophies at the level they are at, but that if they want bigger things, they are simply not good enough – yet – they are the ones that will take in the words from Ian, find the right advice, work on their weaknessess and come away stronger than ever before. Because reality is that in today’s golf it does not really matter if the pins are tucked in or not. Somebody will still make those birdies. And I think that is what Ian Twittered about!

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