Among the attractions in Eslov, a small town in southern Sweden with a population of less than 20,000, are a toy museum, a handful of castles and several churches. There are 10 golf courses in the area, most notably the Barsebäck Resort. The golf season is short, too. Winters carry average temperatures in the minuses while summers barely get above 21 degrees. It begs the question: how on earth did Eslov produce Ludvig Åberg, a golfer with a technically perfect swing who is seemingly destined for greatness?

In January, Australian Golf Digest spent some time with Åberg during an adidas product launch for its Tour360 shoe. Despite having several weeks off in Europe, Åberg’s swing was as mesmerising as it had been during a whirlwind 2023. The Swede won on the DP World Tour while trying to earn a debut on the Ryder Cup’s European team before he had even played in a major. He also grabbed a maiden PGA Tour win in November.

On the range at Kapalua’s Bay course, the site of the adidas photoshoot, the 190-centimetre Åberg was hitting balls while cameras rolled. Everyone in proximity was working, sure, but they were taking mental notes for their own golf game: the way Åberg waggles away any tension at address; how his swing is compact, but smooth; the way he generates power yet remains balanced; his perfect swing plane. It was poetry in motion.

It helps that Åberg’s hand path – the distance the hands travel away from the ball during the backswing – is a whopping 70 inches. That’s 10 inches more than the PGA Tour average. It allows him more time, or a bigger runway, to both square the face and gather speed into the ball.

Åberg’s ball-striking is elite. That’s obvious. But four-time major winner and Ryder Cup teammate Rory McIlroy, says there are more subtle tools in his arsenal. “Everyone talks about what a great driver of the golf ball he, and he is, but I was really impressed with his wedge play and how he can control his trajectory with the shorter clubs,” the Northern Irishman said. “I was on the bandwagon before, but I’m on the front of it now.”

The polish you see on 24-year-old Åberg is because of his upbringing in southern Sweden, not despite it. What seemed like obstacles in Eslov in truth were advantages. We’ll start with the shorter golf season.

Åberg was not coughing up precious developmental time to rising junior stars from the warm-weather countries like parts of Spain and US states such as Florida, California and Arizona. Rather, he was forced into splitting a perfect amount of time between working technically on his swing and competing when the sun was out.

“Our season was quite limited,” Åberg tells Australian Golf Digest. “We can’t play year-round because the snow creates challenges unless it’s [an uncharacteristically] warm year. It was a balance; you don’t want to get too far on one side; you want to have a good mix between competing and being technically sound. I’ve always liked the idea of playing a lot, because [it’s the closest thing to] competing. I like to [simulate competing] in my training and in my practice. There are situations that show up on the golf course that you can’t practise on the range.”

Åberg was first taken to Eslov Golf Club at age 8 by his dad, Johan, a 5-handicapper. At first, he wasn’t into golf. He worshipped soccer, or “football” as real fans call it. It’s hard for golf to compete with the world game, especially in a country that exported players like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the megastar whose clubs include Inter Milan, Barcelona and AC Milan, and former Arsenal stalwart Freddie Ljungberg. Instead, Åberg Snr would bribe his son with ice cream in exchange for staying longer at the course.

“It’s true,” Åberg laughs. “My dad is an avid golfer. I didn’t quite enjoy it. At first, it was something I liked to do over the summers. But once the winter came, I’d just put my clubs in the closet and not touch them for a while. I loved playing football. That was my favourite thing to do up until I was 12 or 13. That’s when I first started playing more golf tournaments and spending more time on the course, training and practising. I thought, OK, this might be something I want to do for a living.”

Playing golf for a crust certainly became more appealing once Åberg started paying attention to the professional scene. His countryman, Henrik Stenson, was on Swedish TV mixing it with the world’s best. Åberg had certainly read about 10-time major winner Annika Sorenstam, and how she remains Sweden’s best golf export and arguably the greatest woman golfer of all time. But Sorenstam retired in 2008, before Åberg’s heart was truly in golf closer to 2011. The career of Stenson – the tall, swashbuckling golfer from Gothenburg – began to take off. That second wind came after a drought that almost ended his career when he battled the driver yips between 2009 and 2012. From 2012, Stenson won four PGA Tour events and four other European Tour titles, highlighted by a victory over Phil Mickelson at the 145th Open Championship at Royal Troon in 2016.

“Henrik is the most successful golfer we’ve had on the men’s side and what he’s done for Swedish golf, and is still doing for Swedish golf, is really important,” Åberg says. “He helps a lot with junior tournaments and inspires us. He still inspires me.”

Åberg’s early fundamentals were installed by Eslov Golf Club’s head pro, Tomas Setterhill. The natural talent was obvious. “Ludvig was an easy kid,” Setterhill said years ago. “Some people just have it; they can hit the ball without being told. He didn’t have to be taught that position.”

Just like the contrasting seasons, hailing from a southern Swedish town with a population 19,600 also worked in Åberg’s favour; he stood out enough to be selected to attend Filbornaskolan, an elite sports boarding school in Helsingborg. He was in the same year group as future Solheim Cup players Maja Stark and Linn Grant.

At Filbornaskolan, about the age of 15, Åberg met his coach, Hans Larsson. “I would say he had really good basic fundamentals,” Larsson recalls. “My philosophy is to look at the golf ball, listen to the sound. Does the golf ball do what it needs to do? Always look at the ball flight first. You want a golf swing that can produce a ball flight without too much curve and that gives a good sound at contact. I like to coach players in all aspects that actually improve their score; [Ludvig] loved playing golf, but he didn’t really want to practise that much and he didn’t really like the gym. Over the years, he’s learned to develop those other areas.”

There was some practice, clearly. One doesn’t develop a swing so efficient without elite fundamentals, coaching, analysis and repetition with video. In fact, there was a lot of practice, mainly driven by the school. Student golfers at Filbornaskolan were up at 6:30am for breakfast, followed by school lessons, then 90 minutes of training. After lunch, more academic lessons were held before a six-kilometre cycle to the 54-hole Vasatorps Golf Club outside Helsingborg. Golfers would play and practise before cycling back to the school for homework and a 10pm bedtime.

“I was super fortunate that I joined a high school where we practised all year round and we would go on trips if there was cold weather,” Åberg says. “With the season being a little bit limited, we went indoors whenever it got cold. It gave us a lot of time to work on our swings technically. That’s why I think Swedes in general have very sound technique; we strike that balance. We’re well educated in our own golf games and swings. I’ve had a lot of support from the from the Swedish team, the Swedish Federation, and my coach.”

Clearly, the system worked. In 2017, aged 17, Åberg entered a European developmental tour event, the Landeryd Masters, as an amateur. He finished equal 30th. If that didn’t put him on the radar of US college coaches, his European Tour debut the next year did. Still an amateur, he finished T-34 at the Nordea Masters. The college offers came flooding in, and Åberg settled on Texas Tech University. While in college, he won the Ben Hogan Award as the best collegiate player in the US in 2022 and 2023. He finished at the top of the inaugural 2022-2023 PGA Tour University rankings to earn membership on the circuit. He turned pro in mid-June and debuted at the Canadian Open.


Life came thick and fast for Åberg during the northern summer. Last August, Åberg began a furious charge as a captain’s pick for the European team at the Ryder Cup. He tied for fourth in the Czech Republic and then won the European Masters in the Swiss Alps. It was enough to earn a wildcard from European skipper Luke Donald. No golfer in the history of the Ryder Cup had made their Cup debut before their major-championship debut.

As laconic as he appears, Åberg admits the second half of 2023 was wild.

“Once I had turned professional, there was just so much going on,” he recalls. “But I was OK with everything; I tried to embrace it. It might sound so cliché, but all I tried to do was to have fun while I was playing golf and made sure that I really enjoyed it. I felt my last couple of years of Texas Tech really prepared me for everything. You play against a lot of good players, and you play tough courses every now and then.

“But it was also a huge step up. I’ve always known my capabilities; what I’m most proud of is that I’ve been able to transition into the pro circuit. I think I’ve handled it well. It was exciting; in December I finally flew back to Europe for a little bit. I was with my girlfriend in England and then I went home to Sweden. It was nice to come back and recharge a little bit.”

Aside from winning on both tours in his first five months out of college, Åberg was just the second golfer, after Sergio Garcia, to make a Ryder Cup team in the same year as turning pro. Åberg posted a 2-2-0 record from four matches while the European side won the Cup, 16½ to 11½. In the Saturday foursomes session, he and Viktor Hovland recorded a 9&7 victory over the pairing of world No.1 Scottie Scheffler and reigning PGA champion Brooks Koepka. That set a new record for the largest winning margin in an 18-hole Ryder Cup match.

“They usually say, once you’ve played on a European team at the Ryder Cup you don’t want to miss it ever again,” Åberg says. “That’s so true. It’s such a different dynamic and there’s no tournament like it; you’re in a team room, playing on a team – and not against – all these great players you’ve looked up to. It was the first time I’d interacted with some of those guys. To do that and to create relationships was a really cool experience.”

Donald, the smooth-swinging Englishman who managed to ascend to world No.1 in his career despite being regularly bludgeoned by Tiger Woods, predicts big things of Åberg.

“I really do have a lot of faith and belief in Ludvig,” Donald says. “He is a generational player, he’s going to be around a long time and he’s going to do amazing things. If he wasn’t going to play this [Ryder Cup], he was going to play the next eight. That’s how good I think he is.”

Buoyed by a taste of the Ryder Cup, Åberg captured his first PGA Tour win in record fashion. At the RSM Classic on Sea Island, Georgia, Åberg equalled the 72-hole scoring record on the PGA Tour, matching the 253 of Justin Thomas at the 2017 Sony Open in Hawaii. Over the closing rounds, Åberg’s 61-61 set the PGA Tour record for lowest closing 36 holes, one shot better than the number shared by Matt Jones at Kapalua in 2022 and Patrick Rodgers at Sea Island in 2019.


The population of Tallahassee, Florida, is exactly 10 times that of Eslov, Sweden. Yet the capital of Florida is still considered a small city, at least relative to the larger hubs of Miami, Jacksonville, Orlando and Tampa. It’s also where Åberg has chosen to set up shop; his fellow Swede and PGA Tour winner, Vincent Norrman, offered a room in his house to Åberg.

“Yeah, it’s definitely [different] to Sweden,” Åberg says with a laugh. “But I went to [Texas Tech] in Lubbock, Texas, which is also a little town. But it’s nice. Tallahassee for me, provides almost that same social network that I had in Lubbock, where the most important thing is to have people around who you know and who care about you. People you like to hang out with.

‘Vinny’ is one of my closest friends and he’s a tremendous golfer as well. I think we can learn a lot from each other. I know his girlfriend quite well, and we all stay in the same big house. It’s good fun. Vinny and I also travel a lot together. We play a lot of the same tournaments, and it makes things easier.”

From Tallahassee, Åberg will launch his bid to make 2024 even bigger than his breakout 2023 season. Although he finished outside the top 25 in his first two starts of the year, both in Hawaii, it seemed to be just rust after hanging up the clubs for Christmas.

Hopefully, that rest will count when it matters most. With the majors season starting next month at the Masters, all eyes will be on Åberg to see how his “generational” driving and ball-striking fare at Augusta National. And don’t forget the flighted wedges McIlroy loves about Åberg. Among the bizarre occurrences in golf over the past three years, Åberg winning on the PGA Tour and DP World and playing in a victorious Ryder Cup before teeing up in a major ranks high.

As a debutant, does he have the minerals to break the hoodoo of the Masters rookie? Not since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979 has a first-timer won at Augusta.

“I’m really excited,” Åberg says. “It’s one of those events I’ve watched growing up. I feel I know exactly what the holes are like during the Masters tournament itself. I actually have been to Augusta before; I’ve played it. In my freshman year of college, [the team] did a weekend trip with a couple of [Texas Tech University] donors. We got to spend a day at Augusta, we played the golf course, and we played the Par-3 course and just had the best time.

“It’s one of those tournaments where you feel the holes are so famous. And it is one of the events I’m most looking forward to this year. I can’t wait to get on the grounds [again]. What I love about [the Masters] is the history, the whole environment. To compete there will be really special.”

Åberg will also be attempting to become the first Swede to win the Masters, a curious hole in the nation’s résumé given it has produced male stars like Stenson, the only Swede to win a men’s major, as well as David Lingmerth, Robert Karlsson, Alex Norén, Jesper Parnevik, Carl Pettersson and Jonas Blixt. On his first appearance at Augusta in 2014, Blixt posted the best finish by a Swede with his tie for second behind Bubba Watson.

“I try to prepare for each event the best I can, and it might look a little different from a normal tour event to a major. I also know what I’m capable of. Hopefully, I’ll be able to compete and see where that takes me.”

A Masters green jacket would take him some places; certainly back to Eslov where it all began. 


Few players have amassed so much hype as quickly as Ludvig Åberg. To understand how Åberg’s minimalist technique launches such high, booming, laser-straight drives, you must understand a concept called hand path.

Dr Sasho Mackenzie is one of golf’s leading biomechanists and founder of the Stack training aid. He has studied power extensively in the golf swing. Basically, golfers generate power in a few different ways, but the most important of all these factors is hand-path length, which is the length your hands travel on the backswing.

Pros overall have a much longer hand path than amateur golfers. The average single-digit handicap has a hand-path length of about 50 inches or shorter. The average PGA Tour pro has a backswing hand-path length of more than 60 inches. And because tall players have longer arms, their hand path can stretch even longer, sometimes past 70 inches.

Åberg, who stands 191 centimetres (6-foot-3), benefits from this. The club itself doesn’t even reach parallel, which to the naked eye makes it seem like he’s not making a big swing. But that’s something of an optical illusion. Åberg’s tall frame and long arms means his hands are travelling a deceptively long distance. The same thing is true in fellow Ryder cup rookie bomber Nicolai Hojgaard’s golf swing.

At the very end of their backswing, tall golfers like Åberg and Hojgaard stretch their way back behind their head. Far past other players whose swings appear longer to the naked eye, based on the shaft. Shorter hitters have their hands finish more to the side of their body on the backswing.

A longer hand path allows your muscles to stretch before exerting on the backswing. Crucially, it also gives your hands, arms and club a long time to accelerate, and gather speed smoothly, without any need for jerkiness or forced acceleration. When your hands have completed the backswing, they effectively start the downswing from scratch, at 0mph. The more time they have to speed up, the more speed they’ll transfer into the golf ball.

It’s really no different than a plane accelerating down a long runway before taking off. If the runway was too short, the plane simply wouldn’t have enough time to reach top speed. It needs time to ramp up, just like your golf swing.

The further your hands travel on the backswing isn’t the only factor in distance, of course. Jon Rahm is perhaps the best counter-example: his hands travel a shorter distance than many of his peers, but he still boasts plenty of power through sheer brute force. The result for Åberg is a forceful action, somehow made to look simple and effortless. The kind of golf swing that defies belief, and one that we’ll be mesmerised by for years to come. –Luke Kerr-Dineen