Henna Ekonoja, Technical Specialist & Golfer

What I love the most about playing golf is being able to forget about other issues and learn something new; when I’m playing, I can forget totally work things from my mind. Golf is a good way to spend time together with my husband, friends, and new people. Playing golf relaxes me and is also a very good excuse to travel!

My name Henna Ekonoja, I am in my forties and I work as a Test and Training Lead of FI ITSM Upgrade Project at CGI. I have worked in several positions at CGI, and am now about six years as a Technical Specialist in the area of IT Service Management tools and self-service portals. I’m very keen to learn new technologies – I graduated with a Masters of Engineering in Management of Technological Competence in spring 2017 from Lapland University of Applied Sciences.

I was born in the North-East part of Finland in Kuusamo, and lived my youth in Tornio. After graduating in spring 2002 from Lapland University of Applied Sciences with a Bachelor of Engineering in Information Technology, my husband and I lived in the Helsinki area for around ten years. About ten years ago, we moved back to Tornio in North Finland – my husband joined (and now owns) the family business, and we wanted to move back to our roots. In the Sea Lapland area, it has its own space and peacefulness, but there are enough services and possibilities for different activities.

Outside of my job, I love golf, as well as a lot of other activities. In wintertime, we spend many weekends in a cottage in the Ylläs area. In autumn, I join a moose hunting club with my father, brother, and nephew. We have also two Finnish Lapponian Dogs: an eight-and-a-half-year-old female and two and half-year-old male. They require daily jogging, so I spend quite a lot of time outdoors.
I love good food and wines and travelling. Golf is a good excuse to travel to new destinations!

I first started playing golf at the end of summer 2002 – however, for the first two to four years, I didn’t play so much. In spring 2007, I rented a first-year playing share at a golf course in Espoo – from that year onwards, I played 40-85 rounds per season. When we moved back to Tornio in 2011, we bought shares from a local golf course.

In Lapland in Finland, there are four 18-hole courses and one 9-hole course, which are normally open between May and October, depending on the weather. There are a total of three simulators and three training halls around Lapland. In Rovaniemi, there is also a 9-hole winter course, which normally opens in February.

In Tornio, we have a very special 18 holes course: 11 holes in Sweden and 7 holes in Finland. Due to the time difference, you can hit the longest hole-­in­-one in the world on the 6th hole – the ball flies approximately one hour and 5 seconds due to the time difference between Sweden and Finland, since the borderline lies on the 6th green. The multitude of water hazards makes our course a unique and beautiful golfing experience without forgetting the added challenge. The extended daylight hours allow you to play around the clock during midsummer. Playing in the autumn can be a breathtaking experience with all the autumn colours (http://torniogolf.fi/?lang=en). We also have very special winter training facilities – a big training hall with a simulator. There are possibilities for putting, chipping, and pitching, and also iron clubs, and even driver-hitting training.

Tornio Golf Course Signature Hole

One of my favourite golfing experiences was when I made a hole-in-one (every golfer’s dream) in spring 2011 in Tornio golf’s signature hole: Hole 6. I also loved playing abroad – for example, in Lofoten Golf, Norway, and in Italy around Lake Garda and Villaverde Golf Course near Venice. Another memorable golf course which I have played is Crans-sur-Sierre GC in the Alps in Switzerland, at an altitude of 1500 metres.

Unfortunately, this past year has been very challenging – a few planned trips abroad have been cancelled due to the pandemic. I hope that we are able to travel and play golf in Portugal again; the last time we have been there was 12 years ago. In Europe, there are so many attractive places to visit and play golf that I’m not even able to list them all. One dream is to explore the golf courses in the home of golf British Isles and especially in Ireland and Scotland. Next year, I want to play as many rounds as possible in my home golf club and train safely here. I’d love to achieve a better and lower handicap and play the dream round.

(Top Left): Lofoten Links. (Top Right): Marbella. (Bottom Left): Poggio Dei Medici, Italy. (Bottom Right): Udine.

I see many similarities between playing golf and my current occupation. I’m very keen to use technical tools and different applications. Training and playing in a golf simulator gives good statistics about your development. Also, mobile applications and a GPS golf watch gather statistics, like shot distances with different clubs, bunker shots, chip shots, and putts per round. It is nice to analyse the total scores of golf rounds and your development of golf shots via applications like Garmin Golf and Golf GameBook.

Golf has definitely been a benefit to my technological career, as it has trained me to be more patient. I’m quite sincere; this has helped me to get to know new people and maybe is the reason why I have been lady captain since 2017 in Meri-Lapin Golfklubi in Tornio. Tornio Golf owns the course and properties and makes the course for Meri-Lapin Golfklubi as a home course – I have been a board member of Tornio Golf for five years.

My advice to anyone interested in playing golf is to contact and join your local golf club. If you know a friend or colleague who is playing golf, just contact him/her. It is usually easy and approved, at least in Finland – just walk in together with your friend and get more information about golf as a hobby. Nowadays, golf is very popular because it is a refreshing outdoor activity. All golf clubs arrange a green fee and start-up classes very densely. Even in wintertime, it is possible to join green card classes at inside training facilities and be ready for playing when golf courses are again open.

There is always more than tech. Technology helps a lot in all sports nowadays – you can collect and analyse different statistics, and monitor your heartbeat and wellbeing. But technology is not everything. It is important for all of us, technologists or not, to be interested in sport, culture, travelling, food, wellbeing, etc. It is also important to have some good friends to share your good and bad moments of life. Family is the one and for many of us the most important source for a good and meaningful life.

(Top Left): Cabin in Ylläs. (Top Right): Ylläs Landscape. (Bottom Left): Henna’s dog, Guti. (Bottom Right): Henna’s dog, Kaapo.
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