Wednesday, March 2

Robert Karlsson: ‘What Can I Contribute?’

DO YOU EVER FEEL cynical about today’s sports-celebrity culture? Yeah, me too. There are all too many examples of selfish, spoiled, entitled, money-grabbing players in all sports.

But I just read a Global Golf Post column that makes me feel good. It’s titled “Karlsson’s Changed Life Is Changing Lives” by Ron Green Jr.

Nine years ago 11-time European Tour winner Robert Karlsson was thinking about quitting the game. Married and father of a 1-year-old, the constant travel and pressure were hard to bear. His management company handled his finances and, in essence, controlled his life. The tall Swede couldn’t send an email because he had never learned to type.

Karlsson’s life and approach to golf turned around after meeting Annchristine Lundstrom. She enrolled him in a typing class where he learned the keyboard alongside an 8-year-old and 6-year-old. Lundstrom told Karlsson to write about each golf round, including his feelings.

“I started to grow as a person,” he told Green. “I took small steps.”

Instead of changing his swing, Karlsson changed himself. Today he’s a different person with a different approach to golf stardom. The man ranked 17th in the Official World Golf Ranking says, “Instead of what can I get out of it, it’s what can I contribute?”

He takes that thought further.

“If I were a kid in the crowd, what would I like to see in me? How can I become a role model?”

This may seem quaint in our modern sports world. But it’s working for Karlsson. Now that he’s giving back in small and big ways (Karlsson started a foundation), he’s happier. And, at 41, the former European Ryder Cup player is still collecting trophies, winning twice last year, in Qatar and Dubai. A next step is to contend at the majors. He had three top 10s in 2008.

If Karlsson somehow manages to win a major, he’ll find ways to share that success with others. In a take-and-take sports world, he wants to give and give some more.

−The Armchair Golfer

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