Swedish globetrotter falls in love with Portugal

Swedish globetrotter falls in love with Portugal

Espiche Golf member discovers new world in the Algarve

Anders Jilkén, from Stockholm, Sweden, has now been a Gold Member at Espiche Golf for the past two years. The journey from his homeland to southern Portugal has included stops and adventure in various parts of the world. However, it’s safe to say that Anders now found his spiritual paradise in the beautiful Algarve. In a recent interview, the likeable Swede reveals why he has settled in Portugal, and here you may share his fascination with life in the Algarve.

Anders recently retired from his position as Sales Director for various global companies, and he is now a proud member of the Board of Clube de Golfe de Espiche.
A confirmed globetrotter, Anders has lived in Santiago, Chile, and San Juan, Puerto Rico in the Caribbean. However, his passion for golf is revealed as one reason why he and wife Maria have settled in the Algarve.
He reflects on how important golf can be in ‘breaking the ice’ with clients and recalls how a particular client would regularly request discounts. However, Anders handled the situation by negotiating in a true golfing spirit, with his suggestion to the customer revealing both a sharp mind and an appreciation of golf’s wider potential: “For every hole you beat me, I will offer you a 1% discount.” As he emphasises, “the client was not a golfer, and so it wasn’t that costly!” Anders also stresses that deals were always concluded amicably!

When and how did you start playing golf?
My first experience of golf was when I was 15 years old. At that time, golf was expensive in Sweden and, as a student, I couldn’t afford the fee. So, my friends and I used to sneak out on the golf courses without anyone noticing. I can admit that this was my ‘teenage rebel’ period!

Why did you decide to move to the Lagos area and why choose Espiche Golf as your home club?
My wife and I decided to have a good quality of life when we retired. One of our close friends had passed away, and for us that was a wake-up call. We decided that it was now or never. We wanted to go on an adventure together, to a country where none of us knew the language or the culture. Portugal was the one, and we fell in love with the Algarve. We travelled as often as we could to the Algarve, house hunting. And finally we found it, in Alma Verde, close to Burgau. During our searches, back in 2012, we had already visited Espiche Golf when the clubhouse hadn’t even been built. And now I am a Gold Member at the club! It feels special to me. It was not difficult to choose Espiche Golf. I love the road driving here: it is so peaceful, and the scenery is amazing. Each time I say to myself, “You have 18 exciting holes ahead of you – just enjoy and have fun!” The course is exciting and challenging, and I enjoy the changes made over the last seven years.    

As a Gold Member at Espiche Golf, what are the benefits you appreciate most?
I like the practice areas at Espiche Golf. The social aspect is nice. I always feel welcomed here by all members and the atmosphere is great. The golf course is challenging, and I like it that way. I also love the amazing clubhouse. When friends from Sweden come to visit, I always feel proud to show them around, to play golf or just to have lunch in this wonderful area. I’m happy to contribute as part of the Clube de Golfe de Espiche. I have more spare time now being retired, and I want to inspire more improvements and to set reachable goals for the team. Let’s make dreams into plans. Imagine if we could host a European tour in the next five years at Espiche. Everything is possible!

What are the strengths of your game, and what are you working on right now? What is your weakness?
I’m now working on my short game and putting. I have a new putter, so I have no excuses. My handicap is 18.8 but I hope to reach 12 in the next 12 months. To drop half a shot per month is a good challenge! I have just retired in the summer, and so have more time to practise my game now.
What are the Top 5 golf courses you have played?
All my favourite golf courses have one thing in common: amazing nature and scenery. Las Brisas de Santo Domingo in Chile is one favourite. At one par 3-hole you play 150 meters downhill to the green; and just below the tee, waves are coming in from the Pacific Ocean. Incredible. On the 1st hole at El Conquistador, Puerto Rico, you have just one shot to pass a ravine! When playing the beautiful La Costa, California, where many of the pros have played for years, I have felt very humbled. I also like the Blue Monster in Miami as well as, of course, Ullna Golfklubb in Sweden, where golf legend Jack Nicklaus, with Swedish sports icon and golf pioneer Sven Tumba, created one of Sweden’s most beautiful and best golf courses.

What are your favourite holes at Espiche Golf?
I like the 8th hole. It’s exciting with the dogleg left. I also enjoy the hole downhill, 14th, where, with a smashing drive, it’s only a pitch to reach the green. However, it’s not easy and most of the time, unfortunately, you can find your ball in the bunkers to the left.

What would be your ideal 4-ball?
Phil Mickelson, Henrik Stenson, Matt Kuchar (who I used to see back in Chile when he was still a junior).
Besides golf, do you have any other hobbies?
I like spending time with my wife, children, grandchildren, friends, and my dog. I really enjoy a good glass of wine and here in Portugal where there are lots of fantastic wines. I would like to learn more about Port wines which I have recently learned to enjoy. My wife and I would also love to discover more of Portugal: the culture, the scenery, and the people.
Anders Jilkén clearly loves Espiche, and life in the Algarve. Of course, it’s not difficult to understand why, as this beautiful region of Portugal continues to entrance and capture the hearts and minds of people from all over the world. Paradise indeed.


Tom Callan is Editor of Clubhouse Algarve Magazine