Finally the time is here! Tomorrow at 9.39 I tee off at the Cypress Course at Lakewood Ranch for my first tournament of the year. The tournament is part of the West Florida Golf Tour and will be contested at one of the courses I have been playing a lot at the past couple of weeks. It is a pretty long course that is in excellent shape with really nice greens. It will be a great tournament to start off the season with. Unfortunately, there is no livescoring at this event, but the scores will be posted after everyone have finished on the tour's website. Also, I will update my website and my instagram so that anyone who is interested can follow.
I spent my final day preparing for the tournament on the putting and chipping green. It is very important for me to feel comfortable on and around the greens and trust the speeds and slopes. I also decided to check my swing foundations such as aim, balance, and setup on the driving range. I am feeling pretty good for the tournament and I know that I couldn't be more prepared.
Also, we got our car fixed and it is now working the way it is supposed to. I don't have access to it at the moment though since Ellinor and Alison went to play their first tournament of the year in Deltona, about three hours away. Fortunately for me, John and Marcie are nice enough to let me stay a while longer. If it wasn't for them, I would have a hard time getting around and figuring my everyday life out. So I would once again like to thank them both for being so nice and treating me (as well as Ellinor and Alison) as part of their family.
Out playing the other day, my ball just stayed out of the water. As I walked up, I found a baby alligator only two meters from my ball. When I got closer I saw mother alligator five meters out looking at the ball, can you find her?
What is going on here? Since we got here we have had multiple setbacks, most of which have been manageable and not too hard to handle. However, a week ago me and Ellinor picked up a car that she had purchased, and we left Daytona Beach, my brother, and Christian to travel to Fort Myers where we were going to stay until I go back to Sweden. However, the first time we fueled up the car, it would only accept a few gallons (around 15 litres). We thought this was pretty odd and thought there was something wrong with the pump at the gas station. However, after only a kilometre or two the car started hesitating and jerking. It got worse so we pulled over and called the person we had bought it from to ask for advice. This brought us to an auto store where we bought some enhancers for the fuel system. The car kept on jerking and hesitating, so we decided to call Ellinor's host family from a college tournament in Florida, since they were one hour closer to where we were, and we didn't feel entirely secure in the car. Both me and Ellinor are very badly educated when it comes to cars (even though my father has tried to tell me how certain things work since he is very interested in car mechanics). Fortunately, they were at home and took us in. The following day we saw a mechanic who said that we should leave the car at a Ford dealership (since it was a Ford). On our way over to the dealership, the car started leaking gas, and then it died on us, three times! We finally stopped and got the car towed the last bit, because we didn't feel safe driving a car that was leeking gas. Since that day the car has been sitting over there, until yesterday when they contacted us saying that they found nothing wrong with the car. So, we went to pick up the car, thinking that we finally had a means of transportation on our own again. I should also mention that we were going to pick up Ellinor's friend Alison at the Fort Myers airport yesterday night. The first thing we did after picking the car up was to fill it up with gas. We got past one red light, and then the car died, right outside the Ford dealership. So they took the car back in, and then they said that they thought they knew what was wrong with it. We are expecting them to call us anytime now and let us know what they have found.
In the midst of all this, we have been very lucky! Ellinor's previous host family, John and Marcie, have been amazing. Not only have they given us roof over our heads, they have also made sure that we have been able to practice golf at their courses (and they are excellent courses in great condition too), they have lended us one of their cars to get places, they have fed us, they have taken us to the movies, and they have let us play with their cute dogs. They have treated us as if we were their own children, and we are so fortunate to have such amazing friends that are willing to help us out in times like this.
The golf itself hasn't suffered too much even though we have been having all these issues (mostly thanks to John and Marcie obviously). We have had the opportunity to practice everyday, and that we have. We have played each of the three courses here once, one of which is the course where I will play my first tournament over here on the 10th of April. I am looking really much forward to that since it's an amazing course in amazing shape.
Hopefully we can have our car fixed by tomorrow and head down to Fort Myers. Not that I don't like it here (I love it here), but we can't be bothering John and Marcie during our whole trip. And Fort Myers isn't bad either. We will be staying in an amazing apartment (belonging to my fathers cousin and his wife) only 15 minutes from beautiful Fort Myers beach. And at their country club they have the most amazing Sunday brunches, so I'm really looking forward to that.
If you want more updates you can follow me on instagram (sundlof_golfprofessional) where I post shorter comments about what is going on and some pictures.
The sun continues to shine here in Daytona as mine and Ellinor's stay here is coming to an end. Tomorrow we are both leaving my younger brother, Marcus, and his roommate, Christian, to go to Fort Myers about a four-hour drive from Daytona. My stay here has so far been largely about getting used to playing and practicing outside, as well as getting used to the bermuda grass that is present here because of the hot weather. It is very different to the bent type of grass that we have in Sweden. The ball sits down in the grass in a different way, and the bermuda grass roots are a lot harder than bent grass roots. I find it more difficult to get the clubface through the ball at impact on short shots since the club has a tendency to dig itself into the ground more easily than what I am used to. Also the greens are of bermuda type, which makes the grass grain more than on Swedish greens. This means that the grass lies in certain directions, making the breaks and speed different depending on which way the grass is laying. I'll be honest, I have been really frustrated around the greens. Putting has worked excellent, bunker shots aswell, but lob shots and pitching has been a struggle many times. Of course, I have to work on the short-game, but even more so I believe I have to work on my patience when I practice. Sure, it hasn't been working quite the way I want it to around the greens, but I need to be patient with it and not get frustrated. After all, if I shunk a lob shot today, who cares? Who even cares if a shunk every single lob shot up until my first tournament? As long as I find my way around the golf course at a competitive amount of strokes during tournaments, that is what counts.
Except for the golf itself there has been some things me and Ellinor has had to fix for our future stay here. One very important thing when you are in the US is to have a car. During our time here we have been getting rides from Marcus and Christian to the golf course and our schedule has been influenced purely by theirs. However, now we have finally found a car and we are going to pick it up tomorrow. I was very happy that the car that we found was a Ford Five-Hundred, the same exact car that I had during my college years. It feels good to finally have a means of transportation so that we can make our own schedule.
We have also had daily tournaments to decide who has to cook dinner and do the dishes. This has led to a lot of my time being spent cooking dinners or doing dishes. I'm seeing that as a positive thing though, since if my brother was to cook, we would most likely be eating meatballs and burnt pasta every day.
During some spare-time we also tried some tennis, since they have a tennis court in their apartment complex, bathing in the hot tub in the area, working out, and writing together with Ellinor in a mindfulness coloring book for adults. The coloring book is very interesting. It does indeed make you relax and turn your mind off for a while. Before you know it, 45 minutes have passed, and all you have colored is a small horse head.
We also watched Marcus and Christian play a tournament in Howey-In-The-Hills, about 1,5 hours from Daytona. It was a very tough course with extremely sloped greens. It was fun to see how Marcus has developed his game since I last saw him play this past summer. He did indeed play solid golf, but he had some unlucky breaks and didn't get the balls to drop despite several good putts. On his last round he even found his ball stuck in a palm tree on his 17th hole. He had a long discussion with a rules official before it was finally decided that he had to take a drop with a one stroke penalty in a bunch of rocks. Marcus wanted free relief from the palm tree since his stance was on the cart path. However, he had to jump to reach the ball, but could then take a swing at it. The rules official ruled it unlikely that Marcus would try that shot since he was so short. I then asked the rules official if he thought Dustin Johnson would get a free relief, and he said yes... So, apparently being short is a disadvantage even in golf. Anyway, it was fun to watch some tournament golf again.
The criminal palm tree
This afternoon will be our last practice together with Marcus and Christian. Tomorrow morning they are flying to a tournament in Maryland, and me and Ellinor are heading down to Fort Myers after picking up the car.
Last night I finally reached US soil again and I couldn't be more motivated to get the season started. The flight went really well and except for some delay from Stockholm everything went as expected. Now I am sitting in my younger brother, Marcus, and his roommate Christian's apartment in Daytona. Soon it is time to do some working out, and this afternoon I will hit my first balls outside of the year. I probably won't play anything on the course today, but I might choose tomorrow for my first 65 of the year.
As far as for working out, I have felt that my recent practice with Martin Taipale at 1080 Athletic Lab has been a really good change for my body, and I will continue to work with Martin. I met with Martin, who specializes in golf and tennis and has excellent knowledge of the body functions, just before leaving and got some new things to work on. So, I'll be going all-in on that part now. I'm really excited about it since the last excercises I recieved from him have paid off well already, and I can feel my body is cooperating more than it has been in a long time.
Before leaving, I also saw my golf trainer, Martin Wiklund again. We clarified some things in my swing techniques so I won't even think about second-guessing what I'm working on while over here. We also discussed what my purpose with this whole trip is. I won't write everything I want to achieve during my time here, but one big thing I'll be working on is taking clear decisions (both on and off the course), and then just let go and do it. Sometimes the decisions will be wrong, but as long as I truly believe in them I will never regret them. This is one thing that I have to be able to do to reach my full potential.
Now I have some working out to do. Stay updated!
March fifth and my departure to Florida is getting closer. I will fly in to Fort Lauderdale and my wonderful younger brother told me that he will come all the way from Daytona to pick me up. I will then stay with him and his Swedish room mate for about two weeks. However, I still have a little over a week left of work. I will miss all the kids for sure, but I am of course very happy to be able to travel to a warmer place so that I can get he season started. I am so ready to see the ball fly towards a flag and hit them off actual grass.I will miss work, as well as practice, tomorrow. During the last week I have basically been eating rice cakes, smoothies, bananas, chicken and fish. Today I've been eating soup and a smoothie, and tomorrow I will not be eating at all until after 15.00, because guess what... I have the great honor of doing a colonoscopy tomorrow afternoon. I am lucky though that I get to do it before going to the US, since my stomach hasn't been well in a long time. For those of you who don't know, I am suffering from an intestine disease, called ulcerative colitis. This disease makes me have to think twice about what I eat, and the tricky part is that I don't know for sure what does and doesn't work. I am taking medicin that helps neutralize my stomach, but it doesn't help quiet as well as I would hope it to. So hopefully I will get some answers and good hints on how to make things better.Over the past couple of weeks I have, amongst other things, met with my trainer/coach Martin Wiklund. It was good seeing him, and except for working some of the same swing details as last time, we also worked on chipping. At the end I was hitting them really well, so now I will be looking at improving consistency in the short shots.In the beginning of February the whole family (except, of course, Marcus) gathered in Köping, where Rickard lives, to celebrate Rickard, Henric, and dad who all had their birthdays 7th and 4th of February respectively. It was a good few days and it is always great fun to see my brothers again. We also watched Rickard play an ice-hockey game, which they unforunately lost in overime. Rickard and his line, however, played really well and we got to see a goal from Rickard's club. I got to see Rickard and his girlfriend, Amanda, again yesterday when me, Ellinor and Eric met up with them for a game of bowling. I was completely superior, of course.And practice has obviously been a natural part of my everyday activities. I've been hitting mostly in Haninge Golfhall, where I've also been doing a lot of short putting practice. Last time I went there I set out to make 20 3-footers (90cm) in a row. I made it but decided to keep on going to see how far I could go. I ended up making 100 in a row before ending the exercise, my vision was almost double since I hit every putt with my full routine which I think is important for the exercise to be as effective as can be.Yesterday, I hit outdoors at my girlfriend's home course driving range, and it was extremely slippery. The whole ground was covered in ice and frost and it was hard to keep the balance on point. It was a little fun though, even though it felt more like ice with some grass on it then the other way around.I was trying to upload some pictures, but I guess I have to do that a little later since my new computer isn't really cooperating. However, you can always visit my instagram account or facebook if you want to see some visual updates.Until next time!
Things are starting to happen in small Sweden. First of all, I have created an Instagram account for golf posts exclusively. I figured it would be fun to mix the long texts on here with some videos and pictures from practice, tournaments and other events. If you want to get the full view of my golfing journey, or if you are curious how my swing is progressing, follow me at sundlof_golfprofessional.
Moreover, me and Ellinor received news today that we would get to practice at a beautiful golf facility in Fort Myers during our stay there. I will not yet tell the name of the club yet since we still don't know all the details, but we are very lucky that they are willing to let us do our spring practice at their facility. Once I know for sure, I will let everyone know where we will be. I know have four more weeks of work here in Tullinge before I fly out. Ellinor will leave earlier, in about two weeks, and I will meet her in the beginning of March and caddy for her in her first Symetra Tour event 10-12 of March. I am really looking forward to the trip, and I can't wait to get back outside and start bombing balls down the fairways and making putts left and right.
I am also working on a sponsor package that I will offer to anyone who is interested this year. I haven't worked out the specifics yet, but I will host a very special format sponsor tournament. I am excited about what new connections and meetings this could lead to.
Stay in the loop, as the season is getting closer by the minute!
...Is what I would like the header to read. Unfortunately I will have to wait for a while longer for the season kick-off. There is not much to report about at this time. However, there are a few things that have happened in the last couple of weeks.
Shortly after new years eve I got a new flexibility and strength program from a physical trainer specializing in golf. It is meant to increase and balance my functional movement, strength and flexibility. It was revealed that my rotational movements came mostly from my hips since the flexibility of my shoulders, feet and calves is lacking. This puts extra pressure on my hips and could be a reason that they have been troubling me the past couple of years. Since I have tried many things focusing on the hips themselves, I am very excited about following a program that will increase my functional movement and flexibility in other body parts that could be the root to my problems. So far the exercises are going well and my hips have not been hurting since I started doing them. It is still too early to say if they actually are helping my hip, but either way I am sure that they will help my golf.
Performing one of the new exercises
Also, on the 11th of January I turned 25 and because of that we first had dinner in the city on the day of. It was me, my parents, my fiancée, and my grandma. It was a great restaurant called Kristall. Later on, in the weekend we had a little gettogether at our house with some family. I also got to see one of my very best friends who came to see me during the weekend, Erik. Even though golf is extremely fun, lets you travel the world, and is a great way to be close to nature, it does have its backsides. Since it takes up a lot of your time you don't have much of a social life. Most of the people I call friends are either in other countries or are themselves golfers (most of which live far away from where I live). Taking this into consideration you really have to take the chances you get to meet your friends, and I am very happy that Erik took time this weekend to come see me. We had a great time catching up, looking at old videos from highschool, and even going to one of Erik's favorite bands playing live in Stockholm. My fiancée also came with us to the live-band, though neither one of us could really appreciate it fully since it was not our kind of music. However, we did appreciate trying something different and the athmosphere which was amazing.
Five year old picture of me and Erik in our high school glory days.
Had a great time watching these pictures.
My fiancée has also come to visit me a lot since new years. I love when we get to spend time together, and in less than a month she is flying out to the US to prepare for her season on the Symetra Tour, so we have to take our chances to see each other too, even though I will see her some once I fly over to the US in March. She has recently created her own website where you can follow her everyday life as well as her career. She is a great golfer, and above all a great person, so go check her website out at www.ellinorhaag.com. It is very nice and I am a little jealous of it to be honest.
Inside practice last week
Until next time!
Now 2016 has come to an end and a new year has begun. I hope 2017 will be a great year, however, the last month of 2016 was a very tough one for me and my family. On December 2nd, my mother lost her father, her mother lost her husband, and we sons lost our grandad. The last couple of weeks before he passed, we all spent very much time with him at the hospital. Most of the family was with him on the night of his passing. It was by far the hardest thing I have ever experienced so far in my life. The last year was very tough for my grandad and my grandma. It has contained multiple hospital visits every week to make different tests and controls. We hoped it would be able for him to regain his health, but his body was slowly shutting down and didn’t respond to the treatment. A little over a week ago, on December 21st, he had his funeral at the same church as I was baptized in. It was very pretty.
My mother saying one last goodbye to her father
My grandad has meant a lot to me and my family. He was a big family man, and he is the reason our family is so close. He has had a huge influence on all of us and he will be extremely missed. He actually played a big part in introducing me to the game of golf. I will always remember him, and he will never leave our hearts. Neither will his three golden rules that he always told me before every golf tournament: “Plan the hole, take one shot at a time, and look at the ball”.
"Ett slag i taget" (one shot at a time)
My golfing inspiration as a kid
Celebrating grandad's birthday in 2015
It has been tough to motivate myself sometimes in the past month, and I have felt like certain things have been more important. However, lately I have started to appreciate playing and practicing again. I actually played my last round of the year as late as December 31st. Me and Ellinor’s father Tomas then played Tjusta Golf Club, a course close to Arlanda airport that actually still was completely open with summer greens. Since it is unusually warm here right now, it was like a round of golf in early spring. I had some trouble with the short-game, but my long-game was really good, especially off the tee. I ended up the season with a round of 71, which I was more than happy with.
Tee shot on hole nine at Tjusta Golf Club on December 31st
A problem has come up though, that concerns my golf practice. I decided not to get a winter membership at an inside golfing facility this winter. Because I like to see the ball fly, I bought a range card at an outside driving range (Årsta Golf) that supposedly was open every day of the year, according to their website. And no one told me any different when I said that I was going to run my winter practice at their facility. There they have heating installed in a few booths, and the range is lighted. However, they closed the business before Christmas and won’t open again until the beginning of February if the conditions allow it. I was very disappointed to discover this as it messes up my plans for how I want to run my winter practice. So now I have contacted the indoor facility in Haninge where I practiced last winter. Hopefully I can work out a deal to practice there for the coming month.
Me and my golfing brother Marcus (who is home for another four days before going back to his University in Daytona Beach) received a Christmas gift from our parents that I think will also lead me in the right direction when it comes to my golfing career. We have been to a sporting lab that has personnel specializing in golf, among other sports. Our instructor there is really knowledgeable in the movements and function of the body, and he has measured our flexibility in different directions, and what body parts the flexibility comes from. Doing this led me to increased knowledge on what I need to work on to keep my body balanced so that all body parts work together. If they don’t work together, some parts will have to do the work for some less flexible body parts, and that could lead to some body parts being overworked and injured. This is likely what has happened to my hip, since we discovered that my hip flexibility was very good, but I was less flexible in my calves and feet. Today I got a workout routine that will fix my flexibility deficiencies step by step. I am really excited about it!
Finally, I would like to wish everybody a happy 2017! This will be a year full of adventures and new experiences. I am looking forward to meet and conquer them all. And keep your eyes open, I might have some exciting news in a few weeks.
This past week has been one of the biggest rollercoasters so far in my life. Firstly, my much beloved granddad has not been doing well, and he has been assigned to hospital treatment. I have been there to visit him a few days this past week, and on Sunday we celebrated my mother's and her brother's birthday at the hospital. If there is one good thing to come out of this, it is that the communication on my mother's side of the family has become very frequent, and we usually see each other as many times in a year as we have last week.
To make things more "interesting", one day when I came home from the gym, I felt that it was pretty chilly on our bottom floor. I figured my parents had forgottem to shut a window, so I went into their bedroom to check. There I found that the corner window had been completely removed, and the room had been turned upside down by a burglar. It was a really uneasy feeling, knowing someone had been in your house (and possibly could still be). Three police officers came home to us that same night to gather information on the burglary, and the next day forensic investigators came to the crime scene, though without finding any leads.
The burglars left a real mess on my parents bed
But like I said, it has been a rollercoaster week, and everything wasn't bad. I realized this week that I appreciated the little things more. For instance, my brother Rickard came home for about 24 hours together with his girlfriend Amanda. We sat on the couch in our livingroom together with our parents, just talking about everything and nothing. I really enjoyed that and felt happy being able to spend a night just talking and enjoying ourselves. Also, I've been to the driving range in Årsta a few times this week, and even to Botkyrka to practice wedges on Saturday when it was really "warm" (7 degrees Celsius). I find it very relaxing going out to hit balls, and it is a good way to clear my head after a day at work. The last two days the snow has come back in plenty, but it is still possible to hit balls in the heated booths.
The driving range in Årsta
Finally, my week at work has been very good, and I really enjoy working there. The colleagues are great and the kids are awesome! Now, a new week has started, and tomorrow I will join my colleagues at a Christmas dinner after work.
Another week has flown by, which means Florida is one week closer. The week has been pretty much work every day followed by either hitting balls at the driving range at Årsta or a visit to Tullinge Gym. The golf swing is already pretty close to where I left it before my fall break from golf, and I have also seen a significant increase in my leg strength since then. Since this seems to be such a big contributor to the well-being and functioning of my hips, I have decided to work out my lower body at a proper gym more often and more regularly during next season then previous seasons. Me, Ellinor, and her father, Tomas, also watched an ice-hockey game with my favorite team - MoDo. They were playing the team that was dead last, but still managed to lose 6-3. It was fun to be live at an ice-hockey game again though.
This weekend one of my brothers, Henric, was at home. It was great seeing him again and spending some time together. It was also fun, him usually refusing to play golf, that he wanted to go and play nine holes at our short course yesterday. It's been above freezing temperatures these last few days and the snow is almost completely gone. Dad also came with us, and so did mom but without playing. It was a good and chilly day in the sun. This was followed by an afternoon gym session. Today it was time to go back to work, and because the temperature has been almost 10 degrees Celsius, I was going to go to hit balls at the range after work, but I somehow managed to injure my knee at work just walking along the hallway. This is so annoying, but what can you do other than stay positive and do your best to rehab.
I hope you all are doing good, and I want to send special wishes to my grandfather. We are thinking of you.