An Interview with Alex Noren’s Coach Viktor Gustavsson
Viktor Gustavsson is the head teaching professional at BroHoff, Sweden’s #1 Ranked Golf Club. Viktor has worked with Alex Noren since he was a young kid and six other players on the European Tour.
ON TEACHING PROS AND AMATEURS...
Q: What motivates you?
VG: When a player gets better. It doesn’t matter whether it’s an amateur or professional, it’s all about proper contact, good fundamentals. With short game and putting, the amateur can be as good as Tiger or Dustin because the technique is so important in a short game. You don’t need 120 mph clubhead speed... An amateur can learn technique and put pressure on the ball and create spin.
And if you do the right drills, you’ll get better with the long game as well, because you still shaft lean and proper impact angles in the full game as well.
What I see with my amateurs when they start close to the green, they always get better because you develop technique in a smaller range of motion.
ON EVOLVING & CONTINUING EDUCATION…
Q: Do you teach the same today as years ago?
VG: We’re always learning. The more I learn... the more I see I have to learn. I need to get better every day.
My mantra is “Confused on a higher level”.
ON WORKING WITH A TOP TOUR PLAYER ...
Q: You work players who already shoot under par, to shoot MORE under par? Are you working on the same fundamentals or is it more nuances?
VG: For a standard chip or a standard pitch, it’s the same fundamentals. Let’s say I have a short game seminar whether I’m teaching Alex or somebody else. The only difference is that on a professional level they need more different kinds of shots. At impact though, the ball doesn’t know if it’s being struck by a pro or an amateur.
With the short game, An amateur can be as good as Tiger. A short game is more technique.
What I see is that with proper fundamentals, players are going to get better, whether it’s a chip, a pitch, or a bunker shot.
ON COACHING FULL SWING VS SHORT GAME…
Q: Does improving your short game benefit the rest of your game?
With a shorter swing, you don’t have as much time to compensate…the less you do with the hands the more synchronized you'll be with the arms and body movement...the easier it is to get better contact and control of the flight.
Q: What’s the one thing you’d tell amateurs for getting better at the short game?
VG: Get your balance points straight/ lined up!—the head, middle of your chest and your stomach. If we can get these three line up over the ball, then it’s going to be easier to be more on plane, more synchronized arm and body movement.
What I see is that amateurs think they need to ‘help’ the ball up by tilting too much back. And if you tilt too much back you’re going to be under plane and bottom-out early.
So if you have the balance points lined up you’ll better on the plane, better contact, more shaft lean.
Q: What are your Set-Up Keys? Are you a big believer in consistent hands position?
VG: I set ball position always relative to the low point. (WATCH the video on this at 01:20).
ON WORKING WITH A TOUR PLAYER...
Q: What are the challenges of working with tour pros like Alex Noren?
VG: We do a lot of measuring. I work a lot with him on putting and SAMS Putts Lab. We measure everything.
Q: With respect to putting and SAMS Putt Lab what is ideal impact and loft?
VG: To get a good roll, you need to take on the way up with a little bit of deloft to get the perfect roll. What I want for a player like Alex, is to launch to be 1 degree up for the launch of the ball. Which is good for hard greens.
So let’s say you have a standard putter with a standard 3 degrees of loft, and you deloft it 2 degrees, then you have it set perfectly at 1-degree launch.
What I see with most amateurs is they are adding loft. Of course, on slower greens, you can have launch up to 2 or 3 degrees, but amateurs often add even more.
I have a good ‘roll board’ where you can see the skid balls and some amateurs fly the ball like this (see video)
A: So what hands’ position do you like for set up?
VG: I like the hands slightly ahead of the putter face. I like the butt end of the putter pointing at the groin. With the ball position just in front of the middle of the feet. (WATCH the video on this at 01:40)
A: What is your idea of the right stroke motion?
VG: Always shoulders around, perpendicular to the spine (WATCH the video on this at 02:00)
ON CONVENTIONAL WISDOM...
Q: Technology has shown Tour players pitch shots, for example, were shown at contact to be a mere 1 degree on the downswing, while much traditional teaching taught a more steep angle.
VG I’d been taught that when I was a junior. I didn’t listen to my coaches, I just kind of figured it out myself.
I coached Tomas Bjorn for two years...they put shaft lean, while still having a shallow angle of attack. Like the landing of a plane
They extend the hips, putting pressure on hips, forward and upwards. And of course, the head is not going this way (forward)
I ask amateurs “Can you rake leaves?”. They’re learning to put pressure on the shaft.
RB: I did clinics in at the PGA of Sweden National, and the level of play was superb. It helps that 5% of the population plays golf. In the clinic for 12 players, 11 were single-digit handicaps.
ON WORKING WITH TOUR PLAYERS…
Q: What is it like teaching on tour, there’s only a handful working with top tour players. Is it a grind?
VG: I like it out there, I like being home as well. It could be easy weeks or tough weeks depending on how the player feels. I was a really good amateur, I can hit a lot of different shots. It’s easy for me to know what a player feels.
It’s long days, they practice hard.
Q: What’s a typical day for a tour player, what kind of time do they put in?
A: Alex, he’s like a grinder. He practices from 6 AM to 5 PM every day. First a warm-up with his physical Trainer, then warm up on the range, play 18 holes, practice full swing or short game depending on how they feel that week.
I work here at the academy from 8 AM to 9 PM...the love for the game!
Q: Good week or bad week...Do you ride a roller coaster with them?
A: You feel it. The players I coach, I have had for a long time. When they play badly, I get a little low.
You see things in the long term. You do some change it may not be good the week after...but in the long term, you see the progress.
I don’t like quick fixes.
WATCH THE VIDEO to see Viktor demonstrate a flop shot...Unfortunately, no sound for the 1st ‘Flop shot Segment’, Sound resumes with ‘Putting Tip’