Golfer Robert Karlsson hails from Sweden where his father was a greenskeeper at the local golf club. Due to his father’s work, he was naturally exposed to golf from an early age. Robert turned professional 1989, qualifying for membership of the European Tour at the 1990. One of the highlights of his career so far, came in 2008 when he won the Order of Merit. Robert has won eleven events on tour.
Great Golf's David Singh catches up with the man at the 2018 BMW Championship at Wentworth.
GGM – So Robert, you travel the world, stuck on a plane for hours on end, what do you do to relax and keep yourself sane?
RK – I listen to books, any that I think that I can grow from. Books that are going to help me evolve as a person and also as a player.
GGM - When you arrive for a competition, are you a suitcase and hotel person or do you go out and experience the location, get a bit of culture.
RK - I try to experience something from whatever place I find myself. I don’t want to finish touring one day and realise that I have not seen anything from all the places that I have been lucky enough to visit. Trips to cities like Paris and Madrid for example, I try to absorb a bit of the culture, but even over thirty years of touring, you find that you still have few chances.
GGM - What is the most memorable place that you have been to?
RK - Japan, without a doubt, it is a land of contradictions. You can smoke indoors and in hotel rooms, but not on the golf course. Everything that you think is correct in the western world has got to be questioned in Japan. When I am there I am always thinking, what is right and what is wrong, or why do they do this or that. But you have to accept the way that things are there. It's an amazing country.
GGM - What golf course would you say is your favourite?
RK - Augusta for sure, it’s the atmosphere of the place. When you drive up Magnolia Lane, just everything you see around you is first class. As for the golf course, it is constantly testing everything that you think and do. And I mean everything, from strategy to the quality of your shots, your short game, absolutely everything. There is not one shot that is easy, and even if it does seem easy, there are going to be repercussions if you are not thinking ahead, where the pin is and so forth. Hitting the fairway is not the problem, its positioning yourself so that your next shot will be OK, so that you are not standing there thinking, maybe I should have thought about that last shot a little more as the next has suddenly become very complicated.
GGM - What is it about the twelfth hole at Augusta?
RK - It’s tricky, you have a small green, there’s the water, the bunkers and then the rhododendron bushes behind, so lots could go wrong if you are not careful. Its also tricky with the wind, and obviously a hole like that will have a special atmosphere as everyone knows.
GGM - when you see Augusta on TV, it seems so flat, but apparently that is not the case.
RK - No, when you stand on the fairway at the eighteenth for example its so much uphill you just cannot imagine.
GGM - What is your schedule nowadays, you have kids, how does that affect your golf?
RK - It’s a little easier these days as the kids are 16 and 14, but I try to get time off around the school holidays. I play mainly in Europe so living in the US does mean more travelling. I’m playing about 24 tournaments a year which is about what I have always done.
GGM - Its said that you are the most analytical golfer, is that something that you can relate to?
RK - Well I do like to understand why something is happening or not happening, but I also think that there are players who are more analytical than me. I guess Thomas Bjorn has heard this as he has put me on statistics for the Ryder Cup.
GGM - what’s your favourite tournament? Is it the Ryder Cup?
RK - You know, we golfers are individuals, there is only one time that we come together and play for someone else instead of ourselves, so it’s definitely a very different experience. Different pressures and a different type of nervousness. When I played my first Ryder Cup in 2008, the day before the start, Colin Montgomerie and Darren Clarke took me to one side and told me that what I was going to experience would be completely different to other competition. They said, you are going to be more nervous than you have ever experienced before. I was like, what are you talking about? This is just like any other competition. But when I stood there on the first tee I understood exactly what they meant. It’s just so different. But it’s a great experience, its more liberating in some ways, but then you also feel the pressure of playing as a team, probably more like what a footballer would feel.
The biggest difference is the fact that the spectators are either totally for you or totally against you, there is no in-between. A large proportion of the spectators want you to screw up. You may have noticed that it has become way more hostile over the last couple of events, hopefully this will change.
GGM - I see that you have your Maui Jim sunglasses, do you wear them just for golf or also everyday use?
RK - Definitely both, I have three or four with different lenses. In 2009 I was out for four months with a serious eye condition so for me it’s very important to look after my eyes. My Maui Jim’s are very important for me, for my golf and my eyes in general.
About Maui Jim
Maui Jim began in 1980 as a small company selling sunglasses on the beach in Lahaina, Hawaii. Seeing a need for technology that could combat intense glare and harmful UV rays, while also bringing the brilliant colours of the island to life, the company engineered the revolutionary PolarizedPlus2® lens. There are now over 125 styles, all of which are polarised and offer 100 per cent protection from UVA and UVB rays.
In 1999, Maui Jim was listed in Forbes Magazine’s '100 Things Worth Every Penny' article and in both 2015 and 2016, the brand was selected as the Best Sunglass Company in Vision Monday and 20/20 magazine's EyeVote Reader's Choice awards.