STOCKHOLM. City Golf Europe has laid out pads, pens, coloured balls and a laptop on two round tables in front of hole 1 – Stockholm City Hall. Johnny and another participant, Peter Hoffman, have arrived early on Thursday afternoon with marketing manager Patrik Blomquist.
“I didn’t expect either O’Learys or Tolv Stockholm itself to be ready by six o’clock,” says Johnny. “When I arrived there was cardboard all over the floor, and not even the bar beside the golf course was finished.”
An hour before Tolv Stockholm is due to open, the cardboard is gone and the bar beside the golf course is laden with brimming wine glasses.
But the whole subterranean entertainment area below Stockholm’s new Tele2 Arena is still teeming with activity.
There are people everywhere, all of them carrying or pushing things around. Only Johnny and his colleagues from City Golf Europe can be seen strolling calmly among the green golf holes.
“We always finish our projects on time,” says Johnny. “Once we built a whole course in Germany in less than six weeks – from the idea phase to the finished installation.”
A lot of research went into the Stockholm theme. Johnny photographed buildings and environments to make the course look as authentic as possible.
Johnny stops a man walking past with a mop and bucket. It’s Edward Lundberg, one of the owners of O’Learys Tolv Stockholm.
“We’ve never done anything like this before,” he says. “I’m pleased we chose the Stockholm theme. We hope to get a lot of school visits once the information signs about Stockholm are up.”
Johnny says: “I designed the course with Edward and his colleague Henrik Hermansson. The city has to look authentic to Stockholmers, not just to people from Löa like me!”
He admits that coming from the countryside has its advantages, not least when competing with American companies.
“When they hear I’m from a small village, customers feel they can trust me. And my down-to-earth approach has helped me in my business too.”
City Golf Europe - facts
Number of employees: 12 in Domsjö and 50 travelling installation technicians.Sales in 2012: SEK 30 million.Gross profit in 2012: SEK 2 million.Two business areas:City Adventure and City Mini, specialising in adventure golf and mini golf.
- Has been building golf courses since the 1940s.
- Has built 2,300 mini golf courses worldwide and 175 adventure golf courses in Europe.
Adventure golf courses in Europe:
Südsee Camp – Germany
House & Garden – Denmark
Gustavsvik, Örebro – Sweden
Lysingsbadet, Västervik – Sweden
Marina di Venezia – Italy
Top Camp Jambo – Denmark
Fun City Sport – Denmark
Tropical Island Resort – Germany
Alton Towers – England
Choice Hotel – Norway
Lalandia – Denmark
Haverdals Camping, Haverdal – Sweden
Ribban Green Golf, Malmö – Sweden
The most exciting one – and the biggest to date – was a tropical Adventure Golf course in Germany.
And the most unusual one? A private mini golf course at an Italian client’s home. Johnny Nielsen from the small village of Löa has designed 175 Adventure Golf courses throughout Europe over the last 15 years.
It started 25 years ago when Johnny Nielsen, from Löa north of Lindesberg, Sweden, bought a bankrupt mini golf company in Hällefors. Today he is one of three partners in City Golf Europe. The company is headquartered in Domsjö near Örnsköldsvik, works throughout Europe and recently won a contract in Australia.
“I'm currently arranging visas for two foremen who are going to Sydney to oversee the construction of an Adventure Golf course,” says Johnny.
Only two employees will go to Australia. But all the other mini golf installations have been built exclusively by City Golf Europe employees.
“We have 50 men building the installations in teams of four,” says Johnny.
He designs all of the company's Adventure Golf courses. In collaboration with the customer, he suggests solutions and designs a themed course. Possible themes include pirates, a tropical setting or a geographic location.
“In Venice I thought gondolas. In Örebro I focused on the castle and the Svampen water tower.”
(Article written in "Närkes Allehanda" 25th Oct 2013 by MARITA JOHANSEN email@example.com +46 19 15 50 40)