Martin Dempster: What can Scotland learn from the dazzling Danes?


Thomas Bjorn in particular, but also Soren Kjeldsen, Anders Hansen and Thorbjorn Olesen had already shown us that the Danes could pack a punch in the Royal & Ancient game, but what about these new kids on the block?

I am referring, of course, to the twin brothers Nicolai and Rasmus Højgaard, who, between them, amass five DP World Tour titles before their 21st birthday.

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Make no mistake, they both look like superstars in the making, with Nicolai ranking 67th in the world, but it’s not just them that show that a country doesn’t just need to be strong in numbers to produce success.

Twins Rasmus and Nicolai Hojgaard have now won five DP World Tour titles between them and won’t turn 21 until next month. Image: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images.

According to the most recent figures from the KPMG Golf Participation Report, Denmark had just 149,044 golfers playing on fewer than 200 courses. At the same time, Scoland’s total was 180,281 over 500 fields.

However, and this is a pretty incredible statistic, no fewer than eight events have fallen to Danish players on the rebranded DP World Tour and Challenge Tour since the beginning of August. For the record, Joachim B Hansen, Jeff Winther and Marcus Helligkilde have also played a part in that purple patch.

There’s no denying that Bjorn, a 15-time tour winner, three-time Ryder Cup winner and 2018 winning captain, deserves great credit for inspiring his nation as golfers, but, with all due respect, the great man is no longer is the main inspiration.

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Marcus Helligkilde celebrates after winning the Challenge Tour Grand Final at T-Golf & Country Club in Mallorca in November to also become Road to Mallorca champion. Image: Octavio Passos/Getty Images.

“It’s them now”, Helligkilde, speaking to me in Mallorca last year after being crowned the Challenge Tour Road to Mallorca champion, from Højgaard’s victories. “They are a great inspiration. They are two young men who are playing golf and inspire us to win tournaments.

“They are definitely having a big impact on junior golf in Denmark. It is the same on the amateur side and also in the women’s game. It’s like a snowball effect.”

The same, of course, has been happening in Scotland thanks to the headlining success of David Law, Bob MacIntyre, Grant Forrest and Calum Hill in recent seasons.

However, what was really interesting about what Helligkilde had to say in our talk, about why he felt Danish golf was on a roll, was that it wasn’t just the players themselves, talented as they undoubtedly are. .

“I think first of all it’s the coaches over the last 10 years as they seem to have gotten better,” he said. “They don’t have all the knowledge, but they want to improve and find out what works and what doesn’t.

“I never felt like any of the coaches felt too good for anyone. They always try to learn from each other and I think that’s where this all started.”

Hard work has also helped. “If you go to a practice camp with the Danish Golf Union, there is a lot of quality from 6 to 6,” added Helligkilde. “At 12 years old, when I was part of the youth academy, I was working hard and had the perfect plan.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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