Swedes 1, Scots 0

OK, I admit. I have stolen the headline. Alistair Tait had it in his column on Golfweek.com where he basically gave the first round to Sweden, in a comparison with Scotland, a country of similar size. Alistair gives examples of how Scottish golf once was very strong in the professional game while Sweden in the late seventies had two players on tour. Scotland actually had 23. Today Sweden has got 23 players in the top 100 in the World while Scotland has – 0.

One thing that I would like to discuss over a drink with Alistair is his sentence; “There is no Swedish system per se”. I wonder what he means by that. What is a system? Swedish sports and Swedish Golf is built up in what seems to be a pretty unique way with a strong volunteer leadership at the grassroots level in clubs. Alistair himself comments on the welcoming attitude in clubs which is then followed by an extensive junior competion structure all the way through clubs, districts, regions and nationally combined with coaching stretching all the way through. Clubs form the foundation of everything and they take great pride in developing their juniors. The Federation is a Governing Body of golf and hence accept the responsibility to take on initiatives that stretch from young children and far into the professional game both for men and women, many of the together with the Swedish PGA. Most of the Swedish National Amateur squads spend the bulk of their year in college in the States as that is where they can get access to both facilities, weather and competition (yes, Swedish winters are even worse than the Scottish ones…).

How can that not be a system?

1 Response to “Swedes 1, Scots 0”

  1. 1 Graeme Leslie November 20, 2008 at 5:11 pm

    Having just come across your blogs, Peter, I am thoroughly enjoying your comments.

    As a Scot, however, whilst I acknowedge the fantastic achievements of the current Swedish professionals – the 23 in the World top 100 says it all – can I just say that at the time of writing, Scotland are World Golf Champions in both professional and amateur, at least until Mission Hills in 9 days time!

    It appears that both Sweden and Scotland have much to be proud of, whilst recognising the on-going hard work required to make further progress. I agree that the comment “no Swedish system per se” appears to be strange indeed and obviously ill-informed, but there are a number of significant initiatives, some of which are higly innovative, that Scottish Golf have been using that appear to be bearing fruit already.

    I don’t consider the benchmarks and measurements between Sweden and Scotland as being particularly relevant, despite having similar populations – 8m v. 5m. Being the best you can be is ultimately the personal and collective objective, and in this regard, I congratulate both Sweden and Scotland on taking great steps forward, from grass roots onwards.

    Sweden have the numbers in the top 100 just now, but the objective of Mr Tait’s article, and to give it the title “Sweden 1 Scotland 0” fails to recognise the excellent work being done by the SGU for the amateur game in this country. By the time this feeds through to the pro ranks, Sweden may well have it’s first major winner, and begin to close this large gap between the two countries. Surely the first major will come to a Swede before too long?

    I think both countries do excellent work in golf, as different sets of results prove. To pit one against the other is counter-productive in that both deserve recognition by other benchmarks.

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