It was warmer than a summer’s day in Sweden this entire weekend and, along with the grilling, the sun-bathing, the dark-less nights of this time of year and the Euro-shorts, new and interesting tidbits about Swedish life, even after almost two years here for me, reveal themselves.
So here’s virtually everything you need to know about golf and mini-golf in Sweden.
*Yes, it is played in Sweden. Just save your wisecracks about playing golf in the snow.
*Not only is it played in Sweden, but you must pass a test and prove your worth to play on Sweden’s courses. There is no room for lousy golfters, “hackers” as we would say in the U.S. In order to get your “green card,” you need the approval of a golf professional at one of the courses. I have a lot of friends in the U.S. who would really love to keep “hackers” like myself off of the courses there….
*Since that’s about all I know about traditional golf in Sweden or anywhere, we’ll switch to mini-golf, one of Sweden’s favorite summer pastimes.
*First, every country has their own name for this and in Sweden, we call it "mini-golf," not "miniature golf" or "putt-putt."
*Sweden was one of the first countries to develop mini-golf along with the U.S., Britain and Germany back in the early 1900s.
*Predictably, Sweden formed the very first mini-golf “federation” 30 years before any other country had a mini-golf federation – yes, apparently there are mini-golf federations worldwide….who knew?
*While American mini-golf courses compete with designs ranging from waterfalls to windmills to neon signs to mazes to anything else that will entertain a family of four or a birthday party of 14, Swedish mini-golf courses are relatively simple collections of 2 x 4s that require you to hit the ball perfectly, with no forgiveness for even small mis-hits.
*I would say I am a better-than-average mini-golfer and there is a course on the little island of Öland that I scored a 90 on last summer. A 90! Mini-Golf! Two holes required 10 shots (even though you are supposed to ”pick-up” after six in Sweden, it’s MINI-GOLF for goodness sakes. I’m NOT picking up until my ball is in the hole!).
*Swedish rules for mini-golf are taken very, very seriously. There is no going out-of-turn, no going before the person in front of you is completely finished with the hole, no moving the ball anywhere it’s not supposed to be moved. This is mini-golf. This is Sweden. You will play by the rules and like it.
*Mini-golf is one more way that the beloved Swedish summer is celebrated. I once again affirm how much I love the seasons around here. And when the warm summer weekends arrive, even a little early and a little warmer than normal, there’s just no place like it. Bring on summer.
(Pictures above from treacherous mini-golf holes from Öland to Linköping – You’ve been warned.)