Volvo today celebrates the 90th anniversary of producing its very first car in the Swedish city of Gothenburg.

Beijing 14 April 2017Volvo today celebrates the 90th anniversary of producing its very first car in the Swedish city of Gothenburg.

“Volvo is very proud of its history,” said Håkan Samuelsson, Chief Executive of Volvo Cars. “The past 90 years have been exciting, but the 10 years left until the 100-year anniversary may come to be more exciting, as industry focus shifts to autonomous driving, electrification and connectivity.”

By sheer coincidence, Volvo this year also celebrates 30 years as a sponsor of golf, and has the unique distinction of being the longest running sponsor in the men’s professional game.

Throughout the past 30 years the brand has enjoyed an extremely high profile in golf, so much so that in much of Europe and the golfing nations of the Asia Pacific, the Volvo brand has become synonymous with the sport of golf.

This month the Volvo China Open will become the 136th tournament to be sponsored and the company’s 86th event on the European Tour.

The Volvo love affair with golf began in May 1987 and paved the way for Volvo to become the European Tour’s very first sponsor. The Tour was renamed the Volvo Tour and included its two biggest prize money events - the Volvo PGA Championship and the season-ending Volvo Masters. A Volvo Order of Merit was also created.

The late 1980s and early 90s proved to be a stellar period for European golf with Bernhard Langer, Sandy Lyle, Seve Ballesteros and Nick Faldo winning 10 Majors between 1985 and 1990. For the first time in decades, Europe beat the USA in the 1985 Ryder Cup and then won the following match in 1987.

As far back as the 1940s Volvo introduced unique comfort and safety features into the design of its growing inventory of vehicles and became the brand of choice for safety-minded buyers.

The company decided to draw on its innovative vehicle design features and elected to revolutionise the player’s experience by building a state-of-the-art player-oriented environment that would motivate pros to raise their standard and therefore attract more spectators, TV viewers and youngsters to take up the game.

One of the more notable changes included the introduction of a fleet of Volvo courtesy cars and drivers to transport the players to and from tournament venues. Practice facilities were significantly upgraded with the provision of tournament-quality balls, grass of the same quality as the fairways and bunkers with the same sand as those on the course. Rest seats were placed behind the practice bays and a teaching pro was on hand to help with swing advice if required.

Exclusive lounges were created for players to dine and to relax in private, with some having family facilities for players’ wives with young children. Thanks to Volvo’s revolutionary ideas, these things have since become basic necessities for all European Tour events.

Volvo ended its title sponsorship of the European Tour in 1995 whilst continuing to host the flagship events – the Volvo PGA Championship and the Volvo Masters (later changed to the Volvo World Match Play and Volvo Champions events).

At the same time the company turned its attention to Asia and to China in particular. Although China had less than a dozen golf courses at that time, Volvo identified a long-term brand building potential.

The company approached the China Golf Association, who gave the idea their full support. Both parties worked closely to launch the 1995 Volvo China Open and the Volvo China Tour, which consisted of four 36-hole events.

For the initial five years Volvo was the main international brand to support pro golf in China. The company’s investment provided a springboard to the success of the talented Zhang Lianwei who, with several Volvo victories to his credit, went on to establish himself as one of the leading players in Asia Pacific region.

Zhang’s Asia-wide success saw him become the first mainland Chinese player to win a European Tour event and also to become the first mainland Chinese player to be invited to compete in the US Masters at Augusta National.

During that time Volvo launched Volvo Masters events in both Malaysia and in Thailand, and later combined them to form the much bigger prize money Volvo Masters of Asia.

A number of leading European players have seen their career take a positive route to further glory with a Volvo China Open victory, including Belgium’s Nicolas Colsaerts, who captured the prestigious crown in 2011 in Chengdu.

The long-hitting Belgian went on to play in the Ryder Cup in Medinah in 2012, and he also won the Volvo World Match Play title the same year, beating Graeme McDowell in the final.

“With the Ryder Cup in Medinah, they are by far my best personal memories on Tour,” said 34-year-old Colsaerts of his Volvo China Open win. “My first win, at the Volvo China Open, will ever be special - it was the first win by a Belgian on Tour after 35 years and the win of Philippe Toussaint in 1975!”

Colsaerts’ maiden European Tour victory in Chengdu saw his world ranking rise to a level that saw him qualify to play in all four major championships, and he finished tied seventh in the Open Championshop in 2012.

“It's a secret for nobody that there is a love affair between my career and the Volvo Tournaments, with my two wins in the Volvo China Open in 2011 and the Volvo World Match play in 2012,” Colsaerts added.

Fellow Belgian Thomas Detry has drawn inspiration from his friend and compatriot and is looking forward to his first opportunity to play in the Volvo China Open.

“As I'm quite close with Nicolas Colsaerts on Tour, he always told me that I would enjoy the Volvo tournaments because of the organisation and the choice of golf courses,” Detry said.

“I'm really looking for my first experience of the Volvo China Open, and this year the event is quite important on the schedule coming just before the Rolex series, and yes indeed I'd like to do well in Beijing.”

Next week the 23rd Volvo China Open will take place and it is now by far the longest running professional golf tournament in China. The event has evolved into one of the European Tour’s more established tournaments with world-class player fields watched by many thousands of on-course spectators, and millions more on worldwide TV.

Following the principle of all Open Championships (open to all), Qualifying events were introduced to provide as many opportunities as possible to players who are not part of established pro tours, and just couple of days ago the 50th Volvo China Open Qualifying event was held in Tianjin.

The Volvo China Junior Championship was created to link closely to the Volvo China Open, whereby the senior boy’s champion automatically earns a place in the Open.

Volvo’s exceptionally high profile in professional golf tournaments can sometimes overshadow the fact that the brand also hosts global golf’s most popular customer tournament, the Volvo World Golf Challenge.

More than 40,000 clients from around 40 countries take part each year. What starts at golf club level can be the start of an experience of a lifetime for clients with the finals played in some of the world’s finest golfing locations.

“The long history of Volvo in Golf is like the ninety-year history of Volvo,” said Sven De Smet, Chairman of Volvo China Open Board and Vice President of Branding & Marketing, Volvo Car Asia Pacific.

“Volvo has worked with European Tour for 30 years and with the China Golf Association for 23 years. The brand of Volvo has closely linked to this ancient game.

“We will continue to contribute in golf and present world class golf events for global audience, meanwhile producing trustworthy products for consumers.”


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