On the Ball
Pro golfer Charl Schwartzel has worn the coveted green Masters champion jacket. The 31-year-old South African also played in the inaugural Porsche European Open in Bad Griesbach.
Charl Schwartzel gets up at least two and a half hours before he is scheduled to tee off at a tournament. That can be quite early, because players might easily be assigned a slot at seven in the morning. Which means Schwartzel’s alarm rings at 4:30 a.m. “I don’t like to be rushed in the morning,” he says. “Everything has to be really relaxed.” He begins with a light breakfast, then spends around 15 minutes in the gym for a few activation exercises and lots of stretching.
He also practices the all-important rotational movement for his game, using a specially weighted club that has to be swung slowly. After a shower he dresses for work, choosing the appropriate outfit depending on the weather. In Scotland this might be a turtleneck, but usually consists of a polo shirt and long pants. Long pants are required by the dress code, which is very strict on this score—and not just in Europe.
Every player has his own warm-up ritual. “I don’t have a set routine,” says Schwartzel. “It depends on the distances between the practice facilities.” He doesn’t need a lot of time; three-quarters of an hour suits him perfectly. A stark contrast to John Daly, who often didn’t show up at the tee until the very last minute in his heyday. Schwartzel’s warm-up session focuses on putts and long drives. For any players who might be interested, he starts with the short wedges like most pros do, moves on to the irons, and only uses the woods at the end. You won’t find a hybrid in his golf bag. Instead, he has what is called a combo set. He spends relatively little time—around ten minutes or so—on the chipping and pitching greens.
Schwartzel works calmly. “When you’re playing on your own, you talk a lot less. I don’t want to be distracted, because that might cause me to make mistakes,” he says. It’s not so important whom he is paired with. “The only problem might be someone who plays very slowly, because that can have an effect on my own game.” His inward focus is intentional. “Ultimately the only person you’re playing for is yourself.” He doesn’t really like to eat on the course, although he will take an energy bar or two and a protein shake along. And drink a lot of water.
“I like meat, particularly a good steak.” At the end of a successful day at a tournament, Schwartzel likes to go out for dinner with his family. If he is alone, other players might have to fill in, such as Louis Oosthuizen, who won the prestigious Open Championship at St. Andrews in 2010. The two players grew up together and are close friends. This evening in Bad Griesbach, Schwartzel excuses himself early. “I need a lot of sleep,” he says. The long flight from South Africa to southern Bavaria was also tiring. And tomorrow the tournament will continue.