|Interview with WMF Gold Sponsor – NIFO – Johny Forss
News: Can you tell me about a bit about yourself (Minigolf background, business background etc.)?
JF:I started to play Minigolf when I was seven years old, in 1972. During the 1980´s I played very much and was rather successful, I was playing in our national team many times. In 1986, when I was 21 years old I founded NIFO. In the beginning I had another job beside NIFO, but after only two years I was working full time on NIFO.
News: What is the history/background of NIFO?
JF: Around 1989 I developed the NIFO putter and 1992 we sold our first NIFO Feltcourse. In this time the popular balls NIFO 2 and NIFO 3 "were born". During the 1990´s we produced many Feltcourses but in 1999 and 2000 we produced our first two concrete courses for customers in Sweden.
News: Why should people looking to own/or operate a Minigolf course buy from NIFO?
JF: Because we not only have the "know how" from the sport, but our courses also are very durable. Mainly because we use concrete under the carpet/felt. This year we took one step further, our new course, NIFO Steel, has frames made of stainless steel filled with concrete - "Durability and Quality in Harmony"!
News: Why should players buy a Minigolf Club from NIFO?
JF: Hard to say, I can't say that our putters are better than other putters, it´s a question of what kind of putter you prefer. I think the NIFO putters have the right weight and perfect balance for Minigolf.
News: Why should players buy a NIFO Minigolf ball?
JF: I don't have a good answer here there are so many good balls on the market.
News: As a Minigolf player in the UK everyone says that a NIFO 2 is a 'must-have' ball! Why is this? Note: I bought one a few months ago and it's brilliant
JF: NIFO 2 just has the perfect weight, shore and bounce. NIFO 2 are so nice to play with, you really "feel" the ball.
News: Which is your number one selling product?
JF: If we are talking about quantity – NIFO 2 J, but when it comes to turnover this year it's definitely our new course "NIFO Steel".
News: Can players/clubs/associations get you to produce a ball for them, if so what's the process?
JF: Yes they can. They inform us about how they want their ball (size, colour, weight and so on…). Then mostly we make a sample for them that they should approve before production start.
News: There are so many different new Minigolf balls coming out each year. Aren't there too many?
JF: Yes, I think it's too many. I am afraid that this affects the marketing of the sport negatively. It's too difficult for new countries/players to catch up with the best nations. I think this is an important subject to discuss within the WMF together with the "Minigolf Industry". I have some ideas about this, and I am sure other people, not only from the industry, also have many ideas and opinions.
News: Which is your own personal favourite course to play? (type of course and location)
JF: Hmm, let's think…hard to say, but I think my answer will be the feltcourse in my hometown (Staffanstorp). Because there I only play when I am relaxed and when the weather is good.
News: Why did you decide to sponsor the WMF organisation?
JF: The Swedish market is not enough for our business. By sponsoring the WMF I hope to increase our business and to have some influence about the direction of our sport.
News: What are the future plans for NIFO?
JF: To continue to market our new NIFO Steel course which we think will be the future for the feltcourses. This year we also have been involved in Adventure Golf projects, and from now on NIFO can also offer MOS courses. I think there are too many MOS courses that look nice, but are not always so good from a sporting point of view. We will now market MOS courses that not only look nice, but we will use all our knowledge and contacts in order to get MOS courses with good "play-quality".
News: How do you see the future of Minigolf sport?
JF: I think there is a good future for the sport, but I think we need to do some changes of rules and tournaments in order to get more publicity and to attract more people. There is also much work to be done with our courses, it's there we create our future! Not only do the courses have to have a high standard, it is also very important that the surroundings are nice and has a high standard too. We must attract the youth, new players, old players, public and the media. In order to do that we need good facilities around good courses!
News: Thank you for that
Author: Richard Gottfried / Marketing Committee WMF