As an agreement between the Finnish Golf Union and the PGA of Finland comes to its three-year anniversary, PGA of Finland Chief Executive, Teemu Laakso, reflects back on what has been a hugely beneficial and fruitful relationship – one which is set to continue and further golf in Finland in the years to come…
TL: “Three years ago, the Finnish Golf Union started conversations with various golf associations in the country, with the goal of creating a ‘House of Golf’ between them – this included the PGA of Finland, the FGMA (Finnish Golf Course Managers) and the SGK (Golf Course Owners association).
“With various issues that were important to themselves and one another, a three year deal was negotiated with the Union. For the PGA of Finland, having a greater involvement from the Union in education programmes and delivery was important. Previously, it had been expensive to bring appropriate tutors and qualified speakers to the country, which in turn raised the fees for members to participate.
“In sharing the same idea that better coaches equals better players, the Union agreed quickly to support the PGA’s education programme, as it meant regular players would receive better coaching from our PGA of Finland members as well – This benefitted the sport more broadly.
“It is now the third year into the deal with the Union and so far, so good for the PGA. The association shares a joint office at the Finnish Sport House with the above-mentioned associations, along with all other Finnish Sport Unions and associations as well. This has dramatically improved communication and collaboration between us and them, which is only a good thing.
“This improvement bore fruits during the COVID-19 pandemic, where despite everybody working from home, natural communication channels were maintained between one another throughout. For example, at the start of the pandemic, we communicated regularly and included all the chairmen in weekly situation briefings. Before, this might not have been the case.
“In Finland, the impact of the COVID-19 crisis has been felt less so by golf than perhaps most countries, mostly because golf was allowed to continue in most forms. As a result, the number of players and number of rounds played has risen almost instantly, creating more work for PGA of Finland members.
“For the PGA itself, we have also seen an uptick in activity, especially with our tournaments, as we looked to cater for our tournament professionals who were unable to travel to play on international tours. Whilst we had to postpone one of our National Tour events, we have mostly been able to run national tournaments as usual throughout as well.
“From these past three years of increased collaboration between ourselves and the Union, we have seen some incredibly positive results overall. Information sharing and increased communication during the pandemic has been crucial, and we have been able to develop our education programme greatly, with the likes of Phil Kenyon, James Ridyard, Chuck Cook and Michael Jacobs delivering sessions in Finland (without the need for increased fees to our members). Crucially, it has also meant having greater involvement in the decision making for Finnish Golf.
“The common target is to increase this co-operation even further moving forwards, towards a system where all the expertise in our associations is used unilaterally to develop Finnish Golf.”