For those of you who don’t know, the Swedish Exchange is a Junior match between three English Clubs, Royal Birkdale, Royal Liverpool and Caldy and 3 Swedish Clubs, Falsterbro, Flommen and Ljunghusen.
Four juniors from each club were selected, and our representatives were Euan Thomas (Junior Captain), Sofia Cruickshank (Vice Captain), Ethan Howard and Beatrice Jeffrey.
After the enforced break, it was good to get this exchange back on the fixture list. This year it was hosted by the Swedish teams. We started out by flying from Manchester to Copenhagen, then a short drive over the bridge to Sweden. Just a few miles further on, we reached Falsterbro, a coastal area which is very popular during the summer. The English juniors were all hosted by Swedish Junior families, and the Junior Organisers were in a small hotel made up of chalets which we shared with the Swedish Army Intelligence. Helen was convinced they were practising placing landmines which made the 75-yard walk to breakfast slightly more stressful than it should have been.
The match format consisted of 2 days of Four-Ball matchplay, one Greensome matchplay and 3 days of singles, 2 days at each course. The English started well leading after day one, but the second day of singles proved difficult as we played Falsterbro in a good breeze and local knowledge proved to be a huge advantage. We lost that day by 10/2 to fall 5 points behind. There were lots of close matches, though. The points were shared for the next three days, and the last day's singles were at Flommen, and I must admit there were a few tired legs out there. We could not pull back the gap, and the final score was 32-22. The overall score over the last 20 years is 10-9 to Sweden.
To give you some background information, the Swedish Team had much lower handicaps, with several being plus handicaps. The three clubs between them have over 800 Junior Members and, during the summer, have at least one and often two Junior events per day. I must say our host clubs and families looked after us so well with everything provided. It was hard to keep going with three formal meals and two meals out at restaurants, lunches and drinks, but somehow we managed!
The warmth of their welcome was outstanding, and we have a very hard act to follow next year when we will be hosting. For us, one of the highlights was how the Juniors interacted over the week. Within a few days, everyone was so relaxed, with lots of laughter, singing and dancing thrown in for good measure. I’m pretty certain there were friendships made that will last a lifetime. Euan led the Team from the front, with each of our Juniors bringing their individual personality to the event, and I’m sure many others could get the very best out of the week. We were showered with compliments from our hosts, and our Juniors represented Royal Birkdale in a way our members can be proud of.
We would like to thank our predecessors, starting with Norman Jones, who was there at the outset. His foresight and drive to get the event up and running has been rewarded by seeing how successful it is today. Also, Neil Kenyon, Ken Weights and Neil Cruickshank have all developed the match over the years. I think I can speak not just for our present Juniors but for many others; your time and endeavours are much appreciated.
To view more photographs from the trip, please click here.