December 10, 2023

Olympic figure skating champion Franz Kalmer on his love of golf

Olympic figure skating champion Franz Kalmer on his love of golf

Olympic champion, charismatic athlete, United Nations ambassador and to this day the most successful downhill runner in the world: Franz Klammer of Carinthia/Austria. A film about his Olympic victory in Innsbruck will be shown in German cinemas at the end of October. What he’s not showing off: Clamer is an avid golfer today. In an interview with Golf Post, he described his personal development as a “dirty sport”.

Golf Post: How did you get into golf?

Franz Klammer: That was in 1984. We were with the Austrian ski team training in New Zealand. Our hotel was next to a golf course. After training we got bored and borrowed several rackets from the pro shop and hit them. There were also other contestants such as Leonard Stock, Helmut Hoflener and Gerhard Pfaffenbicler.

Golf Post: And! equal to success?

Franz Klammer: Scheduled. I was so bad I had absolutely no feeling, no talent. I just topped it off and totally failed when throwing. I was by far the worst on the racing team. Then I remembered what I said to Tony Seller when he wanted to convince me to start playing golf in the mid-’70s. I told him at the time that I would never start playing idiots and old people. This is too boring for me. But after my New Zealand experience, it didn’t leave me with peace of mind. It bothered me that I could do absolutely nothing in this sport.

Golf Post: What happened next?

Franz Klammer: Back home in Carinthia, a friend recommended me a book on golf: “The Inner Path to Better Golf by Peter Kostis, USA Coaching Legend. I met Kostis on one of our next vacations in Florida and took lessons from him.

Golf Post: Why was it so hard for you to play golf?

Franz Klammer: I was very ambitious at the time. But everything I did before in sports—car racing, motorcycling, biking and skateboarding—didn’t go well with golf. The problem with golf is that you have too much time. You don’t have to respond quickly, you have to act. The ball is still there. Then you often quickly have negative thoughts. You don’t have time for that downhill skiing.

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Golf Post: Is there a connection between ski racing and golf?

Franz Klammer: I think so. Anyone who exercises or plays a competitive sport will take a coach’s advice faster. We are used to quickly turning information into performance. Only for me it didn’t work out in golf. Then there is the mental field. In both sports, the ability to focus at the right moment is important. Whether it’s a jump when I land or when I have to do a good golf swing. And then he succeeded. frequently. sometimes not. But this is golf. It is a sport of mistakes, not perfection. The most important thing in golf is not to try the impossible after making a mistake. It is just about making the best use of the situation.

Golf Post: But that doesn’t suit the Klammer racer, who’s always looked out for the straight line and landed on the slopes in complete danger?

Franz Klammer: But this was not unreasonable or risky: I won!

Golf Post: What’s Your Best Handicap?

Franz Klammer: 4.3 was the best handicap. With the new handicap system, I upgraded from 8.7 to 10.1.

Golf Post: Why have you never participated in amateur tournaments, for example among the big ones?

Franz Klammer: I was always so bad for that. I’m not consistent and unfortunately that’s not good for a tournament over several days. We’ve played match-play tournaments a lot. And in the first round, my partner and I were often on par with four or five and then we fell miserably.

Golf Post: You have participated in many celebrity tournaments in the United States. Which stars on the trip did you play with?

Franz Klammer: For example with Michael Jordan. We both got 6 over par after the first round and played together in the next. That was so much fun. Later with Jack Nicklaus or Hugh Grant. The latter was always nervous when people watched him play golf. The funniest thing was with actor Bill Murray on tour in St Andrews. He is a very serious golfer. We still laugh a lot. Of course also with Franz Beckenbauer several times. And with Max Rieger, an excellent golfer. Also with my former ski colleague Leonard Stock and my fiercest competitor on the slopes, Bernard Rossi from Switzerland.

Golf Post: What is your dream trip like?

Franz Klammer: Definitely with Ernie Els and Ian Woesnam. I’ve played with him before, he’s a real fighter and totally risk taking.

Golf Post: And Tiger Woods?

Franz Klammer: No, I like him. But for my trip, I prefer McIlroy. He has more strength, more dynamism in his role. Many of his hits are unusual for me.

Golf Post: Under normal circumstances

Franz Klammer: Certainly not with good rackets. I usually find it difficult to play. When one of my colleagues hits every ball in the hole, I’m an idiot (laughs). Otherwise I like to play with strangers. This is the allure of golf. You can meet other people. From farmers and businessmen to professors of philosophy. But above all, it must be done quickly. I hate waiting for the tour, whether for airline partners or flights in front of me that make it so easy.

Golf Post: What is your favorite role?

Franz Klammer: Of course, Augusta. I played two rounds there and it was great. A golfer’s dream par excellence. I also love to play in St Andrews, the birthplace of golf. Always a great experience. Then come Austrian golf courses such as Bad Kleinkirchheim, Adamstal or Fontana.

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Golf Post: When you ski, you put a lot of emphasis on good material. How do you play golf?

Franz Klammer: Only the best counts. I buy new clubs every two or three years. At least I don’t have an excuse if it doesn’t work out during the match. I keep throwing balls. Maybe that will never change.

Golf Post: What does golf have that skiing doesn’t have?

Franz Klammer: This is very difficult to do. To first imagine a hit and when it succeeds after that, it evokes an indescribable feeling of happiness. The difficulty with golf is that sometimes you have a good day and then often a bad day. This is the difficulty but also the attraction of golf. But it’s basically a dirty sport.

Golf Post: How?

Franz Klammer: Well, I’ve made a lot of people ski and I’m glad I can do the same with golf. I can recommend it to everyone. It’s a great sport. But if the third blow does not fall into the pit, as I said …

Golf Post: What is retired Franz Klammer doing today?

Franz Klammer: I am advertising for some companies and Carinthia Tours. I mainly take care of my organization. The Franz Klammer Foundation supports young athletes who have sustained serious injuries while playing sports. Most of them are uninsured. The foundation then pays for operations and rehabilitation or provides aids such as a wheelchair. I only give something back because I experienced a lot of good things in sports.