Efficiency 2015 Annual Report

Active Relaxation Outdoors: Playing Golf

“Several years ago, after the first time visiting the golf club to organise the ABLV Golf Tournament, I could not contain my fascination and afterwards told all of my friends and acquaintances about this experience. The soothing beauty of nature, elegant players in bright polo shirts, excitement, when you just cannot wait to pick up your club, swing it gracefully and watch the ball flying far away and landing somewhere near the hole…,” says ABLV Bank Brand Manager Anna Celma of this exciting sport and the ABLV Invitational Golf Tournament.

Oh golf, you are a joy!

Golf is a universal game that combines sport, entertainment, and outdoor activities. In the 500 years of its existence, this game has acquired more than 100 million fans all around the world, mostly in Western Europe and US. During the last decade, interest in golf has also increased in Latvia. Everyone who plays golf finds the much-needed peace of mind by spending time outdoors and communicating with like-minded people, who have chosen this wonderful game as a hobby. Golf is a great workout that involves almost every muscle group. Judge for yourself: the game takes 4–5 hours, during which players walk 8–10 kilometres while hitting the ball with various degrees of power.

The ABLV Invitational Golf Tournament

Since 2012, every summer the bank has been holding the ABLV Invitation Golf Tournament. Only invited players participate in the tournament — mostly our Latvian and foreign clients, business partners, the bank’s employees, and a couple of members of the Ozo Golf Club — our potential clients. The tournament is for amateur players (non-professionals) and is held according to the rules approved by The Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews. The points are counted according to the Stableford scoring system. The skill levels of male players vary greatly, so they are split into three handicap groups. The ladies play in a single group, because there are not that many of them yet.  

Our tournament is traditionally held on the best golf course in Latvia, i.e. that of the Ozo Golf Club. It is the first 18-hole golf course in Latvia that was designed by the world-famous American architect Rob Swedberg. The golf-reviewer of The New York Times Robert Sidorsky recommended this club in his book “Golf Courses of the World: 365 Days”. Ozo has also been included in the Top 100 golf courses of the world. The location is truly picturesque, being on the shores of a lake with a pleasant landscape: small hills, forest and perfect grass. You walk on this soft springy carpet and enjoy the well-maintained and beautiful surroundings. The height of the grass varies — in some places it is tall, whereas elsewhere it is really short and velvety.

This variation is necessary to create different conditions in different sections of the course; it is no coincidence that golfers carry not just two or three, but about ten clubs. The ability to pick the club depending on the situation is a skill that players can only gain with experience. The location of the golf club is also very convenient, being 30 minutes from the centre of Riga and a little over half an hour from the airport.

The thrill overtakes you instantly — you inevitably want to hit the ball as far as you can, as close to the hole as possible…

Even beginners can win

The aim of the game is to get the ball into the hole with the least amount of shots (strokes). The number of holes can vary, but usually it is 9–18. The points are calculated when the last player puts the ball into the last hole. In tournaments, the players are split into foursomes. Golf brings people together, because it allows you to get to know your foursome partners from various angles: to see how they respond to losing or winning and how they handle themselves in difficult situations. Surprisingly enough, even a beginner has every chance of winning against an experienced player. The trick is in the so-called handicap (HCP). In simple terms, this is a head start that the amateur gets when playing against professionals. Players of different skill levels get different head starts. The handicap can be defined more precisely as the “best golfing ability”, or the number of strokes, determined specifically for this golf course, the so-called PAR for the course. For example, if the PAR for the course is 72 strokes (or sometimes shorter: PAR 71 and 70), and the player’s handicap is 36, this player’s potential number of strokes is calculated as follows: 72 + 36 = 108 strokes. For beginners, the handicap is usually set at 36. The higher the skill level, the lower the handicap. For example, the handicap of professionals usually is 0 or lower. The average level of players who are qualifying for European tournaments is -2 (i.e. they finish the course two strokes under PAR). Tournament winners usually finish the course four to five strokes under PAR, depending on its difficulty. The handicap system allows players of various skill levels to precisely calculate the head start they give one another and to remain highly competitive. In this way, any beginner can play against an experienced golfer with an appropriate head start, and the game will be equally challenging for both of them. Even if the competitiveness does not make your blood boil, you can simply enjoy the game and the atmosphere.

Aleksandrs Makarenko, the sculptor and author of the “Flying Ball” trophy

The new prize for the tournament

Latvian sculptor Aleksandrs Makarenko has created a new prize for the ABLV Invitation Golf Tournament — the “Flying Ball” trophy. In creating this work, the master set himself the goal of designing a concept that is not only radically different from its existing equivalents, but which also reflects the bank’s unique style. The city of Riga, the Elizabetes Street neighbourhood and the building of ABLV are in many respects associated with Art Nouveau. Besides, the historical emergence of this style at the turn of the last century (late 19th–early 20th) coincided with the boom in golf. The flying ball became the idea for the cup. The wing and the dynamic form of the trophy enhance the feeling of flight, and the wavy lines that are common in Art Nouveau serve as a decoration. Bronze was chosen as an appropriate material, because it suits the status of the event. The combination of various materials — the smooth, polished surface and the rough, “live” moulding, shaded with light patina, harmonically complete the image, symbolising difficult circumstances on the road to victory. It is worth noting that the bank held a multiple-stage contest for the creation of the tournament trophy and invited three talented artists to participate — Aleksandrs Makarenko, Olga Šilova and Aigars Bikše. Although all the presented works were very original; each of them possessing its own story and spirit, it was Makarenko‘s “Flying Ball” that stood out with its individuality, finely judged proportions and inimitable charm that matched the overall profile of the tournament.

Therefore, the 2016 tournament will start a new tradition: the winner of each of the four groups will receive a replica of the cup; while the runners-up and third place finishers, as well as the players who make the longest and the shortest shots will receive bronze plates with a large image of the flying ball. These prizes are completely different in terms of shape, but they incorporate the most important element — the ball with a wing, so the connection with the cup can clearly be seen. The grand prize of the tournament bearing the names of each year’s winners will be placed in the meeting area of our headquarters at 23 Elizabetes Street, where ABLV Bank clients and guests will be able to see and appreciate it.

I should mention that the winners of the tournaments held from 2012 to 2015 received trophies in the form of cups made from bronze glass, created for the tournament by the glass artist and designer Anda Munkevica.

Moreover, the tournament has another super prize — the Hole in One, which is awarded for completing the 13th hole in one shot to a player, who, in recognition of his or her achievement, receives the elite ABLV VISA Infinite credit card with EUR 100,000 on it. The distance to the 13th hole is impressive: women make the shot from 90 metres, whereas men tackle the hole from a tee that is 120 metres away. So far, no player has been lucky enough to win this prize, although some competitors have come quite close with the shot landing less than a metre from the hole.

It is not just a game for millionaires

Some people think that golf is very expensive and is only for rich people. This is not true. In terms of expenses, golf is similar to skiing or photography. To get involved in golf you need to buy the initial set of clubs, special footwear and clothing, as well as attend a training course with an instructor. You cannot do it without making some financial investments, just like in any other sport. However, the longer you play the game, the less expensive it gets.

You can and you should try

You cannot feel and understand golf through stories and photos alone. You need to try it yourself — pick up the club, swing and shoot… During the bank’s tournament, everyone has a chance to practice with a trainer on the training course. The thrill overtakes you instantly — you inevitably want to hit the ball as far as you can, as close to the hole as possible… I should mention that you can start playing golf at any age, regardless your fitness level or gender.

Golf is a sport that you can play with the whole family — children and seniors together. It has no age restrictions. If you have never played golf, you should definitely try it. Come to the golf course in your spare time and enjoy relaxation, sport, and excitement!

Table of Contents

Creative team: Arnis Artemovičs, Ernests Bernis, Jānis Bunte, Anna Celma, Ilmārs Jargans, Jekaterina Koļesina, Sergejs Mazurs, Samanta Priedīte, Jūlija Surikova, Romans Surnačovs
Project managers: Anna Celma, Jūlija Surikova
Interviews: Jānis Bunte, Ingrīda Drazdovska, Konstantīns Gaivoronskis, Katrina Gordejeva, Ilmārs Jargans, Jekaterina Koļesina, Sergejs Mazurs, Romāns Meļņiks, Sergejs Pavlovs, Romans Surnačovs, Jānis Šķupelis
Text authors: Leonīds Aļšanskis, Jānis Bunte, Anna Celma, Vladislavs Hveckovičs, Jānis Grīnbergs, Māris Kannenieks, Ļubova Kazačenoka, Jekaterina Koļesina, Zane Kurzemniece, Aleksandrs Pāže, Gints Pumpurs, Dmitrijs Semjonovs, Jūlija Surikova, Kaspars Vanags, Benoit Wtterwulghe
Photography: Arnis Artemovičs, Uldis Bertāns, Mārtiņš Cīrulis, Ieva Čīka, Krišjānis Eihmanis, Andrejs Hroneloks, Alise Jastremska, Valdis Kauliņš, Valts Kleins, Marks Litvjakovs, Sergejs Mazurs, Reinis Oliņš, Samanta Priedīte, Gatis Rozenfelds, Polina Viljun, LETA foto, Marka.photo, Studija F64
Proofreader: Jānis Frišvalds
Translators: Jekaterina Koļesina, Nataļja Malašonoka, Lidija Marsova, Jūlija Surikova
Design: Aivis Lizums, Valters Horsts

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Reproduction is prohibited without the consent of ABLV Bank, AS.