10 reasons why the Scandinavian Mixed golf competition is a brilliant concept!
The Scandinavian Mixed golf competition is Sweden’s new major golf competition. It is the world’s first combined men’s and women’s competition. The set-up is absolutely brilliant. Here are 10 reasons:
Skandinavian Mixed is a collaboration between the men’s and women’s European Tours. 78 women and 78 men compete for a trophy and a prize pool. The tournament will be held June 11-14 next year at Bro Hof outside Stockholm, and both Annika Sörenstam and Henrik Stenson are attracting attention to the event. The approach is brilliant for many reasons. Here are the ten heaviest. It’s about everything from the need for change, sponsorship value and your own gaming experience.
1. It will be a unique competition format worldwide.
Men and women in the same competition at such a high professional level. Has that ever happened? Men’s and women’s classes in the same competition. Yes, indeed. But not men and women in the same competition for the same prize and the same prize money at the top level. It will be a unique sporting event that will take place outside Stockholm in June next year.
The fact that Sweden’s two biggest golfers are behind the competition – Annika Sörenstam and Henrik Stenson – makes it even more difficult. Annika Sörenstam made golf history in 2003 when she (alone) entered a men’s PGA Tour event. She was at the peak of her career and played from the same tee as the men. Now she – and Henrik – are spearheading the first fully gender equal golf competition at the elite level.
2. need for change
Sweden has had a European Tour competition for men since 1973 and none for women in the last four years. The men’s competition has looked much the same since 1973 – 72 holes of stroke play – and without taking anything away from the competition as it was, it has fallen in status over many years. From being one of Europe’s biggest races to being just another week out of about 45 weeks in a year on the Tour. The competition has not stood out for more than possibly us Swedes. And that hasn’t been enough to attract the necessary sponsors. The competition would not have survived much longer in its current form. Something had to be done.
3. The global media interest will be gigantic.
The world will be watching this competition with excitement. Sport is constantly evolving – just ask cross-country skiers – and finding a form of competition where men and women compete against each other will be followed by many, from so many different perspectives and dimensions.
I’m not going to do a Steffo and promise to eat a hat if I’m wrong, but I’m convinced that the Scandinavian Mixed will get more global media coverage than the last ten years of European golf tournaments in Sweden combined.
Women against men against each other in real competition triggers so many buttons in different ways. It is a dramatic brilliance, an attraction that has always been there, more or less.
“I am convinced that the Scandinavian Mixed will receive more global media coverage than the last ten years of European golf tournaments in Sweden combined”.
4. Sweden leads the world in gender equality
Sweden is already at the forefront of the global debate on gender equality. We lead by example in many different ways. This competition will consolidate that position globally. “Yes, we also organized the world’s first sports competition at the elite level where men and women competed together against each other…”
5. The sponsorship value will be global
The values that this competition signals and the global interest that will be generated will have sponsors drooling to be involved. And now we’re talking heavyweight global brands. This is loaded with so many positive attributes that big brands should want to stand for. This is simply too good a story for companies that take gender equality seriously not to be involved. This is an opportunity for the company to strengthen its brand with stories.
6. SVT sport is guaranteed to broadcast
For a number of years, SVT Sport has had an explicit strategy that half of the program content should be women’s sports. For this, SVT Sport has deservedly received a lot of attention and many awards. It is completely impossible for SVT sport not to broadcast every second and more of the competition if it wants to maintain its position as the world leader in equal sports coverage. It would be downright devastating for the brand that SVT Sport has built up in recent years if it turned its back on this initiative. The fact that SVT sport is broadcasting will mean that everyone in Sweden can see the competition. This is good for the Swedish sponsors.
7. Important symbolic value of 50/50 vision
The last three reasons are related to golf policy. But just as important. 72% of Swedish golfers are men. In the long term, it is important for the survival of golf clubs that more women play golf. Skandinavian Mixed is a competition that everyone can visit with equal enjoyment. Many men shy away from watching a women’s competition because the ladies are so short. Many women shy away from men’s competitions because they can’t relate to how the male professionals play. Skandinavian Mixed will allow golf families – men and women with children – to visit and watch the competition and everyone will benefit. It is good for recruiting new members.
8. Political suicide to be against golf in the future
The competition will also send signals to Swedish society that golf is a sport on equal terms for men and women. Something everyone can do. It takes an unbelievable level of political ignorance for any politician, at any level, not to take golf seriously after this.
“It takes a level of political ignorance for any politician, at any level, not to take golf seriously after this.”
9. Good for the golfing experience
The vast majority of golf courses in Sweden are built with a men’s tee and a women’s tee. The game experience is historically based on the man’s game and then there has been a women’s tea a little later on. The hectometer concept is based on having several different tees on each hole – five to six of them – that are adapted to how far men, women, juniors and veterans hit. This will mean that the gaming experience will be the same no matter how far you hit. The hectometer concept means you stop talking about men’s and women’s tees or different colors of tees.
Instead, we talk about how long the course will be as a whole from the different tees. Tee 53 means that the 18 holes of the course together are about 5300 meters and Tee 60 is about 6000 meters. This way, the course is “gender neutral” and you play the course from the teeing ground of your choice for the day.
Skandinavian Mixed will put the hectometer concept to the test. The women will play from one of the front tees compared to the men. In the competition, women should be ahead of men after the knockout. The ladies will hit the same clubs onto the greens as the men. The obstacles along the course should be equally challenging regardless of which tee you play. It should simply be the same gaming experience. This is by far the greatest difficulty and risk of the competition. The race management fails to set up the course to ensure equal conditions. Men hit the ball harder, have higher trajectories and can stop the ball faster on the greens. There is a greater variation in the length of the stroke among women than among men. How to make it fair?
If the organizers succeed in setting up the course fairly for everyone, they will create a unique competition with every chance of being extremely successful.
But not only that. The competition can also be the showcase and inspiration that most Swedish golf clubs need. Namely, that by developing their tees and course, all members can get an equal playing experience no matter how skilled you are and how far you hit. Adapting the course to more players is fundamental to making golf more enjoyable for everyone in the future. We can only speculate about all the positives that may result from this.
10. Celebrating the Swedish model – and Annika Sörenstam
Annika Sörenstam is the most successful female golfer of all time. We Swedes will probably never really understand how great Annika is. I had the privilege of living in the US and watching Annika at her peak. Annika is rooted in the Swedish model – and shaped in the US. She would probably have been extremely successful even if she had come from Germany or France. But now she came from Sweden. From Bro outside Stockholm. And she moved women’s golf’s position on the world sporting map with her success.
“…a moving symbolism and somehow a tribute to Annika”.
The fact that the first gender-equal golf competition for professional men and women is held in Annika’s birthplace – together with Swedish golf’s most successful men’s golfer Henrik Stenson – is not only a touching symbolism and somehow a tribute to Annika. It is also a tribute to the entire Swedish golf model.
I tip my hat to Claes Nilsson and the others behind this competition.
This is genius.
The world will be watching.