It may be just three years old as a tournament, but Made in Denmark has certainly captured the imagination of the local fans, proving to be a major drawcard for the Danish people.
The now iconic par three 16th hole at Himmerland Golf Resort & Spa, dubbed ‘Himmerland Hill’, received glowing reports all week from the players, the roars of the crowd seemingly growing louder every day, and has been labelled by many as one of the best holes to play on the European Tour.
Yet, it seems that a key ingredient of this tournament isn't just the players, but also the fans who create a festival atmosphere. They travel the length and breadth of Denmark to support this event and make it the special, unique occasion it has become.
Europeantour.com went out to Himmerland Hill to meet some of those fans who contribute so much. Thomas and his young son Victor travelled to Himmerland from Copenhagen.
"We come for the atmosphere, that's the hook," said Thomas. "We both play golf and maybe it's because it's the only big tournament in Denmark but everyone travels here from across the country because it's fun. It's a people's party!"
Denmark’s Sebastian Cappelen maintained the party atmosphere with the second hole-in-one of the week on Saturday morning. The 26 year old, playing in his first regular European Tour event, holed his pitching wedge on the now famous 16th, which was playing at 96 yards on Moving Day.
The perfect shot was witnessed by the Mortensgaatd family atop of Himmerland Hill, who walked away with a souvenir to treasure after catching Cappelen’s lucky ball when the Dane celebrated the 34th hole-in-one on the European Tour this year by throwing it into the crowd.
"It is definitely a family friendly atmosphere, we love it," said Sara Mortensgaatd, who travelled an hour to Himmerland with her family, American husband Allan plus children Kayden and McKensie. "We got here early for the prime spots at the front of Himmerland Hill and now we've got an incredible souvenir - from a Danish-American, too, just like our family. It's special."
The fabled 16th was jam-packed on day two, when 3,000 people gave European Ryder Cup Captain Darren Clarke and incredible welcome as they showed their support for his side by holding up placards reading "I'm with #TeamEurope".
On day three, local favourite Søren Kjeldsen showed his appreciation when he and caddie Alistair Matheson unveiled a heartfelt banner on their approach to the 16th green, reading ‘World’s best fans’.
With crowd numbers reaching almost 80,000 for the week, golf fans arrived in droves. “This is our first time here and we are new to the game,” said Thomas, who travelled more than two hours from Fyn to watch his first professional tournament. “We got involved with golf as a summer activity and we had a trial membership with a local club where they offered tickets to this event, so we thought we better see what it is like. I’ve never seen Himmerland before but I’m quite impressed!”
No tournament can ever run smoothly without an army of loyal volunteers and those who give up their time at Made in Denmark always endeavour to create the ultimate experience for fans and players alike.
"I volunteer because I want to contribute to this great event and make a difference," said Tina, a marshal at Himmerland Hill. "This is an amazing project from Lars Larsen. The crowds, the players, the place, the sun - everything about it is great.
You probably heard plenty of strange squeaking sounds on the course last week when players made a birdie, and that's all down to some rubber toys - named 'the Birdie Ducks'.
The birds were snapped up by fans on Himmerland Hill and were the brainchild of promoter Flemming Astrup, who is also behind the decision to create a music festival, complete with camping, that runs after play has finished to further enhance the party atmosphere.
The ducks were named Benny the Birdie, Andy the Ace, Eddy the Eagle, while a special edition for official tournament charity KidsAid is called Charlie the Chick. They were each sold for 50 krone with all proceeds going to the charity.
As a perfect example of the unique spirit of this wonderful event, youngsters Nicolaj and Casper were just here to watch the golf last week but saw the charitable efforts going on and volunteered their services to help out. "We just thought it was a good idea to help collect money for sick kids," say the boys, who hail from the town of Viborg in central Jutland. "We knew the KidsAid guys and said if they needed help just to call us and we'd be there. Soren Kjeldsen is our favourite golfer!"
The country may be small in stature, however Denmark’s golfing community is extremely active with 190 clubs with more than 165,000 members while, despite its population, the country regularly ranks among the top five in visitors to europeantour.com each month.
And they certainly do know how to put on a good show.
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