The grass is always greener at HimmerLand
Exactly 2.6 millimetres and just as even and delicate as a carpet. Not too spongy nor too dry. Can you guess where we are at? Yes. The perfectly nursed greens at HimmerLand. Johnny Kristensen has the appreciatory title Head Greenkeeper and has been a part of the journey with HimmerLand for the past 16 seasons.
Being a guest at the greens in HimmerLand, you should feel welcome and special whether you are a single player aiming for a quick play, or if you are a larger group of people who plans to stay the whole day. “All guests should have the exact same experience”, Johnny Kristensen mentions. The green is being trimmed every day, and the bigger areas are trimmed 3-4 per week. HimmerLand’s golf facilities have a total of 360 hectares whereof the 100 hectares are grass that needs to be trimmed. A normal workday begins at 6 in the morning, where the most important areas are taken care of.
HimmerLand is especially known for their very green and well-kept golf facilities, but such perfect greens do not grow by themselves. Being a greenkeeper at HimmerLand is a demanding job that takes both know-how and an outgoing personality. Being employed at one of Lars Larsen Group’s companies – no matter which job title you have, you must be service-minded and smiling. Last mentioned should already be an integrated part of any given workday, as Johnny Kristensen states: “To be a good greenkeeper at HimmerLand, it is crucial that you come to work smiling as well as leave smiling – and of course handle your tasks." This motto seems to pay off as HimmerLand is on top of the list as most popular places to work in the industry.
HimmerLand has become a popular place to do an apprenticeship. One of this year’s apprentices is Laura that with her only 17 years is younger than the average of apprentices at HimmerLand, which is 25 years. Another apprentice is Martin, who already has another educational background, but has become passionate about the golf sport – so passionate that he has decided to pursue the greenkeeper lifestyle. One of the reasons both Laura and Martin have chosen HimmerLand as their destination is that HimmerLand is the Rolls Royce of golf courts. Besides the two of them, HimmerLand has further three apprentices, which is unique for this industry, as the standard is two apprentices. To be chosen as apprentice here, Johnny Kristensen emphasises: “You must have a passion for exactly HimmerLand. We can always teach you how to cut the grass or rake a bunker, but we cannot teach you to have passion. Therefore, we choose people with their heart in the right place.” Currently, one of HimmerLand’s most experienced employees is Karsten on 76 years, who have worked there for the past 40 years.
In the golf industry, it is rather normal to be released from duty during the winter months as the golf season is limited to 9 months per year, but in HimmerLand they keep their employees all year round. In general, HimmerLand aims to stand out on many areas in a positive way. There is a prejudice saying that all greenkeepers are never happy nor satisfied when you meet them at work, but if you ever try golf at HimmerLand, you will meet smiling greenkeepers. “We want our greenkeepers to be the happiest greenkeepers in Denmark, so our guests will remember them when leaving our resort after a good day at the golf course”, Johnny Kristensen says.
Rethinking the crowd experience – again
Just as for so many other events, the corona pandemic flipped the switch on this year’s Made in HimmerLand, pushing partners and organisers to come together to think up new and innovative ways to engage an audience at a distance.
Throughout the years, Made in HimmerLand has become a legendary event joined by huge crowds thanks to the inventiveness of the organisers and the helpful partners: “Golf is not exactly known for being a sport of the people, but that was something Lars Larsen aimed to change. He spent years turning a golf tournament into a celebration for the people by rethinking the crowd experience, adding musical appearances, and bringing the players closer to the crowd,” Thomas Nielsen, Director of Golf at HimmerLand, explains.
As a result, the yearly celebration now gathers more than 20,000 spectators a day, who are cheering on the players and enjoying themselves at everything from music shows to conferences as well as at the many different bars. But not in 2021.
With only 2,000 people allowed a day at the event in 2021, once again the crowd experience had to be completely rethought.
One new initiative that was especially successful was the Fan Green: A digital service provided in collaboration with Jyske Bank offering 10 hours of live stream a day from the iconic Hole 16 with commentators, celebrity guests and more. Fans could also win prizes by predicting where on the green each player would land.
The missing audience was especially apparent at Hole 16 that usually draws a crowd of about 2,000 with its scenic views and a naturally amphitheatre-like green hill. To make up for the missing spectators, 2,000 flags were placed along the sideline to create a sense of celebration.
While this year’s event was certainly different from previous years, the new initiatives have been received well, and to Thomas Nielsen, the unconventional event has even had some benefits to it: “With such a small crowd this year, we had the opportunity to give our sponsors a very special experience, where they were able to get exceptionally close to the action and to the players,” he explains but continues: “That said, we cannot wait to get back to more usual circumstances. And we will be back in 2022 with a huge celebration!”
HimmerLand – Golf and much more
With a history dating back to 1979, HimmerLand has strong roots among golf enthusiasts as well as in the local community. When the resort reached the milestone of 40, it was time to rethink and renew. This involved developing existing facilities as well as creating a new visual identity to communicate that while HimmerLand remains a world-class golf destination, it has much more to offer.
With contributions from an advertising agency, the visual identity, including a new name, was launched in spring 2020. The oak tree on top of the iconic Himmerland Hill by the 16th hole provides inspiration for the new logo while the name HimmerLand, naturally, refers to the location of the resort.
With an investment of 400 million DKK from Lars Larsen Group in 2020, the development of HimmerLand continues to the delight of not only golf players but also anyone longing for a getaway with spa, family activities, good food, golf and much more.