The Danish recipe behind European men's club trophy victory

For the first time since the turn of the millennium, Denmark has won gold in the European Men’s Club Trophy. The team, previously victorious in the Danish championships, now emerged victorious at Troia Golf, outside Lisbon. Listening to Smørums Golfklubb’s Golfstore-Pro Jesper Overgaard, it quickly becomes clear that the victory was no coincidence.

20 teams from all corners of Europe were represented. The Danish team consisted of Mads Heller, Jens Kristian Thysted, and Mikkel Pedersen.

Jesper Overgaard and his players had a comfortable lead going into Saturday’s final round (October 28), with Italy’s Royal Park Roveri six shots behind. It was a lead that was not seriously threatened until the finishing strech.
Italy’s Luca Memeo made four birdies and an eagle on his last six holes, bringing his team within one shot of the Danes.
– It was tight and tense. The wind was strong. With only one Italian player left on the course, it was clear that he needed to hole his second shot on 18. The ball landed ten centimetres from the cup, Jesper explains the drama.

The foundation for the victory was laid during the first two days when Thysted’s and Hellers‘ results were counted. When the Italians stepped up their game on Saturday, Mikkel Pedersen entered the scene with four birdies in his last nine holes. A superb conclusion by a player who wasn’t originally supposed to play but who was hastily called in by coach Jesper Overgaard after Mads Laage had to withdraw due to injury.

Winning this time was a sweet “revenge” from last year when Smørum finished second in the team European Championship after the French winners Cannes Mougins.
– We were very close last year, and of course this feels like revenge, says Jesper.

The operation at Smørum Golf Club is unique. On the men’s side, they have won the Danish championships four years in a row (which is a Danish record), and the club has also won both the women’s and junior championships for two years in a row
During Golfstore’s Order Days in 2022, colleagues asked what the secret was. Jesper has had a year to think about it.
– I have been a PGA Professional for 24 years, and it has been a long journey. I actually started as an assistant at Smørum, the same club where I am a coach today, and has since then coached at two more clubs.
Much of it is about building connections, gathering information, and listening to others.
– I met the putting guru Phil Kenyon and joined him for tour tournaments on about 30 different occasions. There, I also got to know Pete Cowen and several other really great coaches.

Now we’ve turned back the clock to 2010, and Jesper had just started to see some really strong players coming through. It was a good time to contact Pete Cowen for some feedback. They sat down in the Englishman’s Chesterfield chairs, and Cowen gave Jesper his opinions on how to best create a talent development program. It eventually resulted in a Future Team that, together with club training, formed the foundation at the clubs where Jesper has worked.
– But I would say that this is only a third of the explanation, he says, highlighting a holistic concept that stands out in Danish golf training.
– I work with six different parameters: technique, tactics, mental aspects, physical aspects, the structure of the training and daily life, and the human being holding the club. If you only work with one or two of these pieces, you can produce the world’s best ball striker, but likely, they won’t become very good players.

A final explanation lies within the club and the members‘ DNA at Smørum Golf Club. The golf club’s slogan is „open to all, good enough for the best,“ and since its inception, it has had a pronounced ambition to be the best elite club in Denmark.
– My job is only a small part of the successes. Members love that they have skilled players here and are proud of it.
– It means they accept that we spend money to produce elite players. This attitude permeates everything from the greenkeeping staff to the lunch guests in the restaurant.
– These values make the club like one big family and very unique.

The clock has struck. Our interview is over. Jesper is heading out for junior training. In this case, it’s a group of elite juniors aged between 11 and 18. The one with the highest handicap has 4. The one with the lowest +4. No, it’s probably no coincidence that Smørum right now has the best club team in Europe.