Madelene Sagstrom looked like an actor in an extraterrestrial thriller.
She wore a harness around her chest and waist, and another band around her head. In what looked like some sort of experiment from an alien movie, each band was attached to a cord that fed into a computer behind the grass-like mat upon which Sagstrom hit golf balls.
“I’m here to reset, to evaluate the year, to see what I’ve done and see what I want to do differently for next year,” Sagstrom told LPGA.com about her recent Instagram posts. “We’re really checking what the core is doing, how injury prone I am and what I can do more effectively to get the swing better. That’s what all the buttons and strings and stuff are for.”
Ullna Indoor Golf is a domed, double-decker golf facility. It’s a 30-minute drive north of Stolkholm and 50 miles west of Sagstrom’s hometown of Enkoping. She’s made the drive a half a dozen times to work with John Hellstrom, who Sagstrom describes as a “biomechanical something, who is extremely smart at what he’s doing.”
Sagstrom’s most recent trip came at the end of November. It was on the tail of what many would consider a successful rookie campaign, which saw her thrive in the second half of the season. She posted four top-10s including two in her last five starts of the year. During her visit, Sagstrom underwent a series of tests to evaluate her swing.
“We have been doing a few different 3D tests to get my swing down and get facts on what I’m actually doing. It’s hard to just visually look at a golf swing with a naked eye to really know what’s going on.”
Sagstrom has worked with Hellstrom since she was in high school. She describes him as a resource to help her and coach Hans Larsson, her instructor for nearly a decade, to target the areas needing improvement ahead of 2018.
“I tend to get the pressure the wrong way on the wrong foot in my backswing. I’m working a lot with pressure mats to try and use the ground effectively, try not to lose power and try to get more consistent.”
Sagstrom knows how it all sounds. To those who are pupils of the Bubba Watson school of golf who advocate sticking with a homegrown swing, Sagstrom’s evaluations can be seen as overkill.
“It sounds technical, but that’s what I’m really working on,” Sagstrom says, willing to give full disclosure.
Growing up in Sweden, Sagstrom idolized Annika Sorenstam, who in 2015 was named the country’s top-female athlete of all time. It became Sagstrom’s number one goal to make this year’s European Solheim Cup team, captained by her idol. Sorenstam picked Sagstrom largely based on numbers. A tactician both on and off the golf course, Sorenstam built what she hoped would be a successful team as the first European captain to use a stats-based program to determine her four captain’s picks. One of those was given to Sagstrom, whose numbers fit Sorenstam’s model. And like her idol, Sagstrom has long used stats to evaluate her own game.
Scientific analysis, evaluations and numbers have proved successful for Sagstrom, who broke the single season earnings record in 2016 on the Symetra Tour to earn her LPGA Tour card. She didn’t get a win in her first season on Tour, but neither did Sorenstam, who had a breakout second season with three wins including her first major.
“It’s been a lot of fun. It’s a lot of numbers and things to think about, but it helps me narrow down and evaluate the season and make a new plan for next year.”
It might just make Sagstrom’s second season out of this world.