An interview with golf ace Martin Kaymer
BY LARA VIRIOT
(Published in The Produktkulturmagazin issue 3 2018)
When the sun first rises in the morning, slowly evaporating the white veil of dew on the freshly mowed lawn, when there isn’t a person in sight and the green range seems to expand into the distance almost infinitely, that is when you can experience the necessary silence and freedom. With both feet firmly on the ground, focused, centred, gathering all your energy in order to get a hole in one – that’s what every golfer dreams of. Martin Kaymer has achieved this rare feat again and again throughout his golfing career thanks to his outstanding talent – and surely with the right modicum of luck. Martin Kaymer is one of the best on the ranking list of the most successful German golfers and has secured his place at the top again and again over the past years. He is now also passing the passion he has for golf on to children.
Mr Kaymer, how and when did you first come into contact with golf?
I think I was seven or eight years old at the time when my father took my brother and I along to a public driving range in Mettmann. Things really began when the Mettmann golf club was founded and many young families with children my age started playing golf. I was ten at the time.
What is it about this sport that you find particularly captivating? Can you explain fascination with golf to someone who has never played it?
Golf teaches you many values that are also of great importance to me in my daily life: respect, humility, fairness. Golf is a very honest sport, there are no excuses. You will also never play golf perfectly, so you are never done completely – this fascinates me.
You have visited golf courses across the globe. Where is your favourite place to play?
I have several favourite courses, be it St. Andrews in Scotland or Valderrama in Spain. But my favourite place to play is in the Rhineland, in my home, where it all began.
Are there different golf cultures? If so, could you describe them?
Golf is interpreted a bit differently in the USA, for example. There you mostly play with golf carts, listen to music and take chilled drinks with you while enjoying your time on the course with friends. Things are a bit more laid back there.
Each golf course requires a new way of playing. How do you adapt to the individual circumstances?
Of course, it makes a difference whether you’re playing in the rain and wind in Scotland at 10 degrees or at 28 degrees in the sunshine in Florida. But that’s exactly what I enjoy so much: things are never the same, you constantly need to adjust. With experience it becomes increasingly easy to reduce this adjustment period.
You are under a great deal of pressure, especially during important tournaments. How important is the total control of body and spirit in these situations?
I have found that you shouldn’t try to be focused and concentrated throughout an entire tournament round. Considering that these rounds can often last around five hours I think it is very difficult to be focused for the entire time. Which is why I use the time between holes to give my body a short breather. As soon as my caddie and I have reached the ball then I concentrate entirely on the next shot. This makes it easier for me to be fully concentrated during the truly important moments.
How do you manage to remain calm at all times? Do you have any particular tricks you use?
I don’t have any tricks. In my opinion the feeling of calm comes by itself. I think that everyone knows the feeling: if you have fully prepared and played through every possible situation in your head so that there are no surprises then you automatically feel less tense. Ultimately it is precisely those situations during which you are under the most pressure which we train for on a daily basis.
The caddie plays a vital role for golf professionals. What is your relationship like with your caddie? Who makes the most decisions?
I always make the final decision. That doesn’t mean that we don’t coordinate with one another, but ultimately I need to be convinced of the swing. There is nothing worse than making a decision which you don’t stand behind one hundred per cent. This means that hesitating during the implementation is inevitable, and the likelihood of making a mistake is significantly greater.
How do you motivate yourself to give 100 per cent again and again after each tournament?
As funny as it may sound, playing golf is so much fun to me that I don’t require much motivation. Of course, there is a point now and again where you reach a small low point due to all the travelling and the different time zones. But as soon as the tournament starts again on Thursday there’s no problem whatsoever when it comes to motivation.
What has been the emotional highlight of your career so far?
The most emotional point was definitively my win at the BMW International Open 2008. My mother was very ill at the time, and I wasn’t entirely focused on golf during that week of the tournament.
You founded the Helianthus charity four years ago. What objectives are you pursuing with it?
The fact that I have travelled a lot through the world and have gotten to know many countries and their problems has made me really appreciate how fortunate we are in Germany. Nevertheless, there are also a lot of problems in Germany, in particular when it comes to people who can’t help their situation and who often can’t even help themselves: the children. This is how the idea for the Helianthus charity came about. We want to give children a better start in life when it comes to education, sport and provisions.
Why is it so important to encourage people to do sports from an early age, in your opinion?
It is easier to learn motion patterns and to virtually learn them by nature during childhood. Apart from that I think that sport is more important than ever, especially nowadays: your cultural background and where you come from are of no importance on a sports field. No matter where you come from, everyone is the same. This teaches children from an early age that there is no need for prejudice.
What is your greatest wish?
At the moment there is a lot that doesn’t have much to do with my playing golf. But I have always been someone who prefers action over words, which is why I would like to try and ensure that the world is a better place in future, in part through my charity.
What are your long-term goals? What do you wish to achieve in your professional and private life?
In the short term I will do everything I can to get back into the top 50 in the world ranking lost. Unfortunately, I had one or two minor health problems this year, but now I am free of pain and ready to tackle things head on. In the medium and long run there are two majors that I would like to win. The Olympics also appeal to me.
If I reach these sports-related goals then I can hopefully look back on the past with pride together with my family.
Martin Kaymer is a two-time major winner (PGA Championship 2010 and US Open 2014) and the former number one of the world golf ranking (2011). In 2014 he also won the PLAYERS Championship and has been part of the European Ryder Cup team four times while playing against the USA. Martin Kaymer lives in Germany but trains and plays both in Europe as well as in the USA.
Picture credit © Matthew Lewis/Freier Fotograf/Getty Images