Nils Nordh: shipping executive, World Amateur Golfers’ Chairman & CEO

Few people cleverly match business with pleasure as does expat Dato’ Nils Nordh. This well-known Swede (not least in Malaysia where he is the only Swedish person holding the Malay state title Dato’ awarded by the Sultan of Pahang) has previously worked for Star Cruises in Malaysia, and been Chairman and CEO of World Amateur Golfers Championship (WAGC) for the last ten years in parallel with being Chairman of Dynamar B.V – a world-leading company within Transport and shipping information.

Dato’ Nils Nordh, Chairman and CEO of World Amateur Golfers Championship (WAGC)

2017 was a special highlight for Nils, who has had his home in Malaysia for over 20 years (though often being on the move due to having offices also in Holland, U.K and Miami). Because in this year Nils could bring the world final for legendary Swedish sports icon Sven Tumba’s golf tournament (described as the Olympics for the world’s amateur golfers) “home” to Malaysia for a two-year period. It took place on four golf courses in Kuala Lumpur during 18 – 25 November, and in October of 2018 it will be held in the Sultanate of Johor in Southern Malaysia.

“Malaysia is my second home country, where I am a permanent resident, so it’s exciting. And it’s a fantastic country for people to visit. And there are so much excitement to see and experience, not only the many fantastic golf courses here, where you can play golf all year around!” Nils Nordh told ScandAsia just prior to the 2017 final, where WAGC Patron HRH Princess Birgitta of Sweden was in attendance.

Princess Birgitta played for ‘Royal Sweden’ together with her standard teammate Ingrid (Nils’ wife) in the ‘Invitational’. “They have played together during the last couple of years.”

WAGC Patron HRH Princess Birgitta of Sweden and Dato’ Nils Nordh. Photo: Randy Braaten.

The Invitational is a separate tournament that gives the opportunity to share in the exciting “WAGC experience” of a worldwide tour-like championship event without first having to qualify. Business executives with VIP clients, national agents with sponsors, loving couples, celebrities, royalty and other enthusiastic golfers from all corners of the globe are regular participants of the World Amateur Golfers Invitational (WAGI), a tournament that’s played parallel to WAGC, on the same courses, same format and rules except that it is a 2-persons team event.

As for WAGC itself amateur golfers from 40 countries around the world take on the challenge of competing within their own skill levels by receiving the same status as the professionals and elite do with the proud feeling of representing their country in a world championship final.

WAGC, which has grown to become the world’s most prestigious (according to WAGC late Patron Mr. Arnold Palmer) and the largest amateur golf championship of its kind, begins each year as a national championship in countries around the world where the winners from five handicap flights in each country becomes National Champions of their flight and represents their national team as well as individually within their flights.

“One player in each category compete against players from all over the world in the same handicap group. You get a lot of competition vibe and everybody wants to see that their team succeed,” explained Nils.

“More than 25 Swedes came to the finals in Malaysia, including about 10 two-man Invitational teams. So, Sweden was well represented. From Denmark, there were 12 people and Finland was represented with nearly twenty people,” concluded Nils.

After Sven Tumba’s retirement from ice hockey, he became an accomplished golfer, a golf course designer as well as an ambassador to the game of golf.

“Sven Tumba, wanting to give something back to the amateurs, started WAGC to give them a bit of the same experiences he had enjoyed during all his years with golf, ice hockey, soccer and water skiing. He wanted the amateurs – who in fact pay for the professionals as they buy the golf clubs and equipment based on what they see the professionals use – to experience the same thing as the pros,” explained Nils.

The Invitational endorses networking and helps achieve, build or further develop long-lasting global business relationships, as the participants are a diverse group representing a multitude of products and services, all with a shared interest of expanding their network with new friends, partners and business opportunities.

Team Sweden. Photo: Randy Braaten.

“Our motto is that “sport promotes friendship and business”. Many of the people coming are relatively affluent and that they get to meet with peers and exchange ideas and experiences in a friendly manner, despite it being a competition, and create business relations.

The final also promotes the host country for the final each year, via television broadcasts, the Internet and other media and also all the participants showing to the world where they have been and recommending it.

“When talking golf there are tons of golf courses and many excellent ones in Malaysia, and here you can also play all year around.”

As for his royal relations this goes back all the way to 1966 when Sweden’s current King Carl XVI Gustaf and Nils Nordh were classmates in the navy in Sweden. Later on Nils met the King’s sister H.R.H Princess Birgitta (who has her own golf tournament – the Princess Birgitta Trophy on Mallorca). When Their Majesties of Malaysia came to Sweden on a State Visit in September 2005 Nils was invited and attended the gala dinner.

Swedes at WAGC. Photo: Randy Braaten

After ten years working with WAGC he is looking to see it could be re-organised to take up less of his time. However, that is easier said than done: “I personally have an incredible amount of international contacts worldwide and those with such a network of people do not exactly grow on trees. It was the same with Sven Tumba – he knew everyone – the whole world!”

Nils is still Chairman of Dynamar, with some 30 + people worldwide in the company. The company is run on a daily base by an excellent industry veteran Ms. Michele Camm as Managing Director. Whether the world economy, or shipping sector, is in crisis or not Dynamar’s services are much sought after – both regarding shipping credit information as well as consultancy and up-to-date publications in the shipping industry.

“In business you need to be constantly informed. And we have a system to update our clients with financial as well as ship information every day.”

And the shipping industry worldwide knows that Dynamar always keep their vast shipping database up to date, partly via the annual publications.

“There are so many companies popping up in the worldwide shipping while others disappear. We have people in Shanghai, Turkey, England, America, and the head office in Alkmaar, Holland.”

Photo: Randy Braaten

Previously, when Nils worked in the cruise line industry, he was part of setting higher standards and implementing regulations for that industry, working for Star Cruises in Malaysia as well as Norwegian Cruise Line, Miami as Executive Vice President for about ten years and before that with Royal Caribbean Cruise Line in Miami, as SVP/Marine.

“I have always had safety and security as the most important items on my list. Positive to see is that cruise companies not only in U.S but worldwide are today using the security tutorials and ideas that we developed at Star Cruises.”

Nils’ Swedish colleague Captain Gustaf Grönberg also played an instrumental role in turning Star Cruises into a forerunner within the industry, particularly regarding nautical security thinking.

Golf became part of his life rather late when a friend once challenged him to take up the game and he won the bet.

“It could be much more playing but I have managed to balance my handicap at a fairly O.K level.”

His dedication to golfing and shipping continues.

Photo: Randy Braaten

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