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There are about 300 recesses on one golf ball, and thanks to them, the ball flies three times farther than a smooth one. ... Balls of the same size...

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SAGM 2020 Interview with Hans Olofsson

Sweden 24 Feb 2020 at 13:55 | Published by: PatPenguin | Views: 2860 | News search

SAGM 2020 Interview with Hans Olofsson
SAGM 2020 Location  (Photo by SAGM 2020 Website)

The 3rd Swedish Adventure Golf Masters (SAGM) is being held this year on August 29 & 30, 2020 in Ekerö just outside of Stockholm. It’s organized by Kristineberg's Bangolfklubb in collaboration with the Swedish Bangolf Förbundet. SAGM is a one-golf-ball event, which is provided by the event organizer. Similar to prior years, the event is expected to take 6 rounds over the 2 days to name the Swedish Master of Adventure Golf. The competition is open to licensed minigolfers from any country belonging to the WMF and one of the things SAGM expects to see this year is an uptick in international golfers bringing their best putts to the event.

The competition will take place on the newly laid course at Golfbaren Jungfrusund, which sits on a picturesque pier jutting out in to the water. The course is built with artificial turf from Unisport, and constructed by Citygolf Europe in combination with former world champion Hans Olofsson's now well-known track design. Both the construction and design are very familiar to Swedish adventure golfers as well as those around the world.

Per the SAGM website: ”Game quality and strategic challenges are combined with stylish and thoughtful design for both the individual holes and the environment on and around the track. The course has a relatively simple set-up with few major difficulties where all holes can be put on 1 stroke. There will be no tough long second putts normally, it is therefore about finding the right angles and pace to perform a good round. We tip on results down to 26-28 on average at the best, the course record so far stands at 31 strokes, held by Håkan Bengtson, a regular at golf bar and local amateur.”

To get more insight into the SAGM, our editor talked with course designer and world-renowned champion minigolfer Hans Olofsson. We wanted to get some thoughts on the event, the impact of adventure golf tournaments throughout Europe and the future of this version of minigolf.

Minigolfnews (MGN): SAGM seems very popular with international players, especially those from the US. What do you attribute that to?

Hans Olofsson (HO): Swedish girls…? Ever since I played in the US Masters for the first time in 1995 there has been a good connection with the US players. When some of us picked up speed and started playing annually in Myrtle Beach since 2004 the exchange has grown. The popularity of the SAGM lately is probably due to the fact that we do golf ball only for the SAGM, and that is the way MOS {Minigolf Open Standard} has to be played in my opinion.

{Editor’s Note}: The major US tournaments are one golf ball only, and almost all tournaments in the US are golf ball only.

MGN: We also talked to Robin Ventura from the US, the Ladies and Mixed Pairs Gold Medalist at WAGM 2019, about why she is interested in playing SAGM as an American.

Robin: An event like this in Sweden will bring out of a lot of Swedish players, which are some of the best adventure golfers in the world. Competing in an event with such a high level of talent, coupled with the fact that it’s being held at a skillful course, designed in part by Hans, and played with a single ball are all huge draws for me. I think that’s also the case for US players generally.

MGN: With multiple European Adventure Golf Masters (AGM) out there, do you envision they might be brought together in a league or some other type of connection? Is so do you see that as something run by the WMF or something independent but under their umbrella?

HO: The most important thing would be to do it as golf ball only tournaments, the only way to grow the game and benefit from the new style of courses. To make a long story short, the main logic behind my reasoning is this; even an unexperienced (poor) minigolf player, but allowed to use minigolf balls on MOS will, through the balls, get too big of an advantage over a really good putter/golfer trying MOS out to see if it is game for him/her. Putting skills should be in focus, and courses should be designed for that. We have several well-known professional golfers at Golfbaren that are competitive at our courses and they like it. With minigolf balls their disadvantage is too big and the game of minigolf gets less interesting. The same goes for young kids, (parents) seeing the huge ball containers and believing it costs a fortune to play is not good for developing the game. MOS is designed for golf ball (carpet/grass) - leave it that way and try to grow the sport is my message!

That will probably clash with WMF but they are still the only entity strong enough to create some kind of international tour or league in Minigolf at this moment. I know they are working on it but they really need to rethink the ball situation for MOS. For the SAGM this year we plan to collaborate with some of the other AGM’s to get players travelling more. But still, each country has their agendas and challenges so it is not an easy task to make it all happen globally.

{Editor’s Note}: The World Adventure Golf Masters (WAGM) is currently a multi-ball event.

MGN: What do you think the best way to get promotion of these events are? The World Championship live stream was very popular and adventure golf is the most familiar to the US market which could be huge exposure.

HO: There probably has to be something really big money-wise to create attention and exposure. But that might also just give it a one-time bang. Look at MSOP {Major Series of Putting}, they are doing a great thing but still struggling hard to reach any media and wider knowledge even with big money paid out, a great venue in Vegas, PGA profile Brad Faxon endorsing first year etc.

I think it is hard to present a solution for the sport since the whole culture of the game is very individual (and perhaps egotistic) and also quite conservative which makes change, development and growth really hard. The whole society changes around us and the game in Sweden is losing players each year unfortunately. But from my experience minigolf as a social entertainment activity is growing. So we shouldn’t give up but we need to find ways to change and develop new games and tournaments to survive.

MGN: The SAGM this year looks to be on a course that's in an interesting location on the water. How do you see that impacting play?

HO: I think the beauty of the location will add a lot to the playing experience. It is really in a unique location, we even have our own beach and jetski-parking at the course. Having no trees close around gives no downfall of leaves and dirt on the course which is a really good thing as well. It could get a little windy but not worse than many other courses. Having a bar and restaurant next door won’t hurt either when taking breaks from the game.

MGN: I first met you back in the US at a fairly local tournament in the mid-2000s but I have only seen you on the course again the last years. You have had a long minigolf career as I understand it?

HO: Well, kind of, this December actually marked 40 years since my first tournament as a 5-year old kid. I played very much in Sweden and internationally until 2003 when I took a break from classic European Style Minigolf and pretty much quit playing tournaments in Sweden. I played some for my team and also quite a few International events such as Irish Open, British Open, US Open, US Masters and even the PuttPutt Nationals (I love paying Putt-Putt, courses are so fun). But 2009 marked the end of playing consistently even though I have picked up the putter a few times after that but mostly for fun. {Editors Note:} For ”fun” Hans would finish 3rd overall at the 2019 WAGM.

I have never left the game though since I have been operating and owning courses since 2004 and right now we have 4 Golfbaren Venues in Stockholm. We call it ”The Minigolf Experience” and we add a really professional food and bar service to MOS courses that look and play great as well. We really look forward to hosting the SAGM 2020 on our latest course, please come and play!

MGN: A question from one of our readers - how did you start with the hats? Was it always a personal style or something you picked up along the way? You're always recognizable out on the course.

Hans at WAGM 2019
Hans and his hat at WAGM 2019 in Sweden

HO: Good question. It started with a green hat turned inside out, the sweat band gave it a cooler look (in my opinion) when I was 8 or 9 years old and then different hats have been around for most of my years playing minigolf. Lately when I have played mostly in the US during hotter conditions it is more about protection from the heat and sun. I look even worse in a baseball cap so a hat it is…;-)

Thank you to Hans and Robin for spending some time with our questions. We look forward to seeing how SAGM turns out this year and are sure it will be an incredibly competitive event.

The views expressed in this interview are solely the views of the interviewee and do not represent the World Minigolf Sport Federation (WMF), Minigolfnews.com or any other organization that the writer may be associated with unless expressly stated.

» SAGM 2020 Website



Comments (2)

United States of America PatPenguin (Patrick Sheridan)

25 Feb 2020 at 12:55
Really wish I lived closer to Putt Putt action to join the fun. Will have to make drive one of these days to get to a couple of events.

United States of America Smitty (Jeffrey Smith)

24 Feb 2020 at 14:14
This is a great read! Hans has the right ideas for growing the game. And yes, playing Putt-Putt is fun:)

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Italy 06 Feb 2020 at 14:13 | views: 3057 | Comments: 0

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