DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. ' Playing, teaching, creating world-renown philosophies in coaching and being a friend are the characteristics of the multi-talented Pia Nilsson. Nilsson, who was born in Malmo, Sweden, has a decorated amateur golf resume, four years playing experience on the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Tour, a honorary membership in the LPGA Teaching and Club Professional (T&CP)Division, her own coaching company and a close teaching relationship and friendship with the No. 1 golfer in the world, Annika Sorenstam. A member of the Swedish National Team from 1974-81, Nilsson won the 1979 Swedish Junior and 1981 World Cup Championship. From 1983-87, she played on the LPGA Tour, then two years later became the Swedish National coach.
After I played on the LPGA Tour, I returned to Sweden and suddenly received requests to talk to and practice with the girls on the national team during their training camps, Nilsson said. I loved it and soon realized I could coach others to go beyond what my generation had. In 1989, they needed a coach for the Swedish girls and womans amateur team, and they asked me if I would be interested. I was eager for them to learn from my experiences in the United States and on the LPGA Tour.
Thus began her coaching of the Swedish National Team, where she immediately began coaching the then 19-year-old Sorenstam and LPGA Tour player Carin Koch. Fellow Swedes Charlotta Sorenstam, Sophie Gustafson, Catrin Nilsmark and Maria Hjorth joined the team in the following years. By 1996, she was the head coach for all of the teams ' girls, boys, men, women, amateurs and professionals.
When Annika and Carin were on the Swedish National Team, there were very few Swedes who dared to be as good as they could be, Nilsson said. We had a lot of talent, but Swedes are known to be level and not daring. We needed to change the belief structure.
In 1991, Nilsson changed this structure by creating Vision 54 for the Swedish National Team. She had a meeting with Annika Sorenstam, Koch and the rest of the team and challenged them to birdie every hole in one round. She reminded the players that they had birdied every hole on their home course once before and now it was time to combine all 18 birdies. She also started to do a lot more on-course coaching, and even as the players turned professional, they kept receiving education and coaching.
Once one believes in the idea, like Annika does, then it is possible, Nilsson said. It is dream come true to be a coach of a player like her. Annika is always asking questions, and there is a lot of trust between us. When she shot 59, we knew it was one step closer to 54.
Nilsson is also close with Sorenstams swing coach Henri Reis. The duo has worked together in coaching the worlds best golfer.
There has always been a trio, and for many years when Annika first came to college in Arizona and her first years on Tour, Henri wasnt there, Nilsson said. A coach should be needed, not just be there to hang around. She calls me when she needs something, and its nice for her to know that I am here.
In 1998, Nilsson served as captain of the European Solheim Cup Team and in 1999, after 10 years of being the head coach, she left the Swedish National Golf Team to start Coaching for the Future (CFTF) with Lynn Marriott. After attending Arizona State University, Nilsson made Phoenix her home in the United States. So, the Swede made her home once again in ASU country, partnered with Marriott and created CFTF, based at the Legacy Golf Resort, with the goal of globally coaching players and teachers.
Lynn has her students, I have mine, and we do seminars together, Nilsson said. When we started Coaching for the Future, Lynn was the director of education at the Karsten Golf Course, and was teaching many of the Swedes. Thats when we realized we should combine our teaching and philosophies.
Nilsson believes there needs to be more instruction on the course, not just on the driving range, therefore she wanted to teach coaches her philosophies. She wants coaches around the world to think more about their own philosophies, intentions and beliefs and incorporate it into their coaching.
We are motivated and committed to evolve the experience junior golfers have to a higher level, she said. Clearly more education is needed by coaches and teachers, and we need to be innovative with making the game a fun and worthwhile activity for juniors.
Both Nilsson and Marriott are part of developing and conducting training for The First Tees Golf and Life Skills Experience. Nilsson is on the education and research advisory board of the LPGA National Education Program (NEP), a series of education programs combining hands on instruction with research-based theory. Nilsson and Marriott provide their opinions about teaching and help with coaches workshops. They will hold two seminars this year at the McDonalds LPGA Championship Presented by AIG and the U.S. Womens Open, two of the LPGAs four major championships.
In the last 15 months, Nilsson and Marriott have traveled all over the world with CFTF holding workshops and conferences. They have traveled to such countries as Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Canada, Holland and Norway to conduct seminars, which include indoor and outdoor sessions where the teachers can role play and receive practical feedback about their coaching and teaching. Workshops can last from a half-day to three days depending on the function. CFTF also holds workshops in Phoenix where the company is based. CFTF consists of three primary areas: BESTCOACH, GOLF54 and GLOBALCOACH.
BESTCOACH is a coaching education and certification for golf coaches and teachers. It is based on the idea that each person can be your own best coach. Coaches and teachers are taught in seminars about the core framework of developing a vision and strategy to make the impossible possible.
GOLF54 represents the belief that human beings can score a lot lower in the future than they do today. TheGOLF54 program is based on the Vision54 concept and consists of threedayclinics where players are taught how to integrate the physical, mentaland emotional parts of golf and to practicein the most efficient way possible.
GLOBALCOACH focuses on workshops in the business world, such as Volvo, McDonalds or other sports organizations. GLOBALCOACHs intention is to provide a coaching frameworkfor human beings who want to performbetter and develop their skills. This intention can be in golf, business and life. Nilsson usually spends four or five months every year in Sweden, where she has a residence in Stockholm. She is still involved with Swedish golf and is a sounding board to the current Swedish head coach.
Nilsson is especially proud of her hometown, Malmo, Sweden, which will host the 2003 Solheim Cup at Barseback Golf and Country Club, Sept. 12-14.
I am very excited to have The Solheim Cup in my hometown, Nilsson said. We are conducting a CFTF seminar before the event, co-hosted with the Swedish Golf Federation. It will be a great opportunity for coaches to experience Sweden and CFTF, and it will help promote The Solheim Cup.
After traveling the world teaching and coaching, will the ever-busy Nilsson ever go back to playing?
I love to play, but my first priority is to teach and coach and continue learning new ways that I can help the players reach their 54.