Whatever Danish Golfers Are Drinking
Denmark has just 149,044 golfers who play over 189 courses, according to the most recent figures from KPMG’s Golf Participation Report. Not the sort of numbers you’d think would produce seven tournament wins on the European Tour and European Challenge Tour since the start of August.
As Official World Golf Ranking guru Nosferatu pointed out on Twitter, those seven victories comprise more than a quarter of the 26 tournaments held on those circuits in that time frame. Denmark has claimed three more than England, and four more than Spain, traditional European Tour powerhouses.
Whatever Danish golfers are drinking, golfers in many other countries around the world probably want some of it.
Joachim B Hansen is the latest Dane to lift silverware. He held off Ryder Cup player Bernd Wiesberger and Italy’s Francesco Laporta to win the $1.5 million AVIV Dubai Championship by one shot. The 31 year old joins countrymen Rasmus Højgaard (Omega European Masters) Nicolai Højgaard (DS Automobiles Italian Open) and Jeff Winther (Mallorca Golf Open) as European Tour winners this year. Fellow Dane Marcus Helligkilde has just finished the season as Challenge Tour number one.
Hansen adds the Dubai trophy to the one he lifted for winning the 2020 Joburg Open. He had extra motivation last week.
“It means a lot, especially with family and friends here this time," he said. "There was no one there in Joburg. When I saw Jeff Winther win in Mallorca, I was very jealous because he had the family and friends celebrating with him and I really wanted all of that so I’m really glad I get to experience that.
“It’s four wins, some season for Danish golf. I hope it inspires lots of golfers back home.”
Danish success this season, and previous European Tour wins from the likes of Thomas Bjorn, Soren Kjeldsen, Anders Hansen, Thorbjorn Olesen and others totally destroys the notion that a country has to have strength in numbers to produce winners. Rubbish. If that was the case then the All Blacks wouldn’t be the best rugby team in the world, or Canada the best hockey nation, and Korean women probably wouldn’t dominate the Rolex Women’s Golf Rankings.
It’s probably hard to quantify how much influence Thomas Bjorn had on future Danish tour winners, but the victorious 2018 European Ryder Cup captain certainly helped put a small nation with no history of this links game on the map. Aside from capping his career with that famous victory on the outskirts of Versailles, Bjorn has 15 European trophies in his cabinet. He also won this year’s Irish Legends on the Senior Tour, his first victory as a senior. Not bad for a guy who began his golf career with modest goals.
“My dream was always to win a tournament on the European Tour so I’m way past that," Bjorn said. "Growing up in Denmark, nobody had done it, so the European Tour seemed this far away thing. I look back when I was 18 years old and I’ve certainly achieved a lot more than I ever dreamed I’d achieve.”
Ditto probably for Hansen.
It just proves that size really doesn’t matter when it comes to producing champion golfers.
#JustSaying: “That’s the great thing about Scandinavia, the golf club is open to kids all the time. You’re encouraged to go and play and have fun.” Thomas Bjorn
Photograph by Getty Images courtesy of the European Tour