Making the grade on the golf course

Norwegian students take care of business, leading their universities to NCAA golf titles

Sandra Nordaas

Photo courtesy of Arizona Athletics
University of Arizona rising junior Sandra Nordaas, an Oslo native, lines up a putt. She helped the Wildcats to the national championship in May.

Rasmus Falck
Oslo, Norway

Three Norwegians helped their respective universities win the NCAA golf championships May 23 at the Karsten Creek Golf Club at Oklahoma State University. First, rising junior Sandra Nordaas, playing for the University of Arizona, won the crucial match against Angelica Moresco of second-seeded University of Alabama, giving the Wildcats a 3-2 victory and making the Wildcats national champions for the third time. On the way, Arizona bested Pacific-12 Conference rivals UCLA and Stanford, with Nordaas beating All-American Albane Valenzuela of fifth-seeded Stanford in the semifinals. Arizona had finished third in the Pac-12 championships, 13 strokes behind two-time conference champion UCLA.

The Oslo native, with a 3.77 GPA in psychology, was named an All-American Scholar by the Women’s Golf Coaches Association and second team Pac-12 All-Academic.

Viktor Hovland

Photo courtesy of Oklahoma State University Athletics
Oklahoma State University rising junior and Oslo native Viktor Hovland smiles with the national championship shirt draped on his shoulder and hat on his head. Hovland was a first-team All-American for the Cowboys.

Then, rising junior Viktor Hovland and graduate Kristoffer Ventura of Oklahoma State University became champions in front of the bright orange-heavy home crowd of over 3,000 with a 5-0 victory over Alabama. The Cowboys’ route to their 11th national title included defeating Texas A&M and Auburn in match play. Oslo native Hovland received first-team Ping All-American honors and first-team All-American recognition from Golf Coaches Association of America. Ventura, who is from Rygge, was named honorable mention by Ping and GCCA.

All three attended Wang Toppidrett School in Oslo.

In the U.S., 25 million people play golf. When you look at the number of top CEOs, sports stars, movie stars, and entrepreneurs who are avid golfers, those numbers are actually pretty impressive. An estimated 90 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs play golf, as have almost all of the U.S. presidents since Dwight (Ike) Eisenhower. Business golf is thriving. When I went to business school, you could take a class in golf to prepare for the business world.

The American system with athletic scholarships is unique. Students on university teams can compete in their sport at the same time as they get a free—or partially paid—university education. The Oslo Golf Club has a very active junior group with 200 youngsters participating. The goal is for them to get a scholarship to an American college. This year there were 11 OGC players on U.S. college teams at California State University of Northridge, East Carolina University, University of Arkansas, University of La Verne, University of South Alabama, University of Rochester, Purdue University, St. John’s University, Indiana State University, Americus University, and Oklahoma State University.

Kristoffer Ventura

Photo courtesy of Oklahoma State University Athletics
Oklahoma State University senior grad and Rygge native Kristoffer Ventura at the end of a drive during the NCAA Championship match against Alabama when he was a senior, won by OSU. Ventura was an honorable-mention All-American.

Most of the students take business administration. They choose a university they have a good impression of located in a warm climate where you can play golf all year round, where the coach is clever and knowledgeable. The application process is bureaucratic, so if you go this route, start the process early. You could become the next Nordaas, Hovland, or Ventura.

Oslo Golf Club is the oldest in Norway. Except for during World War II, when people grew potatoes on the course, it has been open since 1924. After a total reconstruction in 2008, the course is among Europe’s most technically advanced. It is beautifully situated around the Bogstad Lake. About 30,000 rounds are played every year. Last season, the average member played 12.4 rounds and the highest was 102 rounds. The season runs from May to October.

Rasmus Falck is a strong innovation and entrepreneurship advocate. The author of “What do the best do better” and “The board of directors as a resource in SME,” he received his master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He currently lives in Oslo, Norway.

This article originally appeared in the August 24, 2018, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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