Every golfer has a story of the putt they holed, the chance they missed, and of the drive that was long and straight. Not every golfer, however, has a backstory that grabs one’s attention, that shows the human spirit and can fuel the can-do attitude that is inside every one of us.
The Golfers First Profiles came from a deep belief that everyone has a story, that is not only worth telling, but also worth sharing. Perhaps you or someone that you know is in need of a boost of inspiration or a signpost to what can be achieved.
13 – Rasmus Skov Lot
“I don’t see any problems with having half an arm”
EDGA golfer Rasmus Lot was born without a right forearm and uses a strap to fasten the club to his right arm and grips it with his left hand.
Listen to EDGA’s Tony Bennett chatting with Rasmus Skov Lot
Rasmus Skov Lot is an emerging talent in the world of golf from the so-called ‘child-friendly’ village of Ugelbølle in the northeast part of Denmark. Today it is not common to hear a youngster talk of their ‘love of nature and fresh air,’ when the bright city lights so frequently call, but in Rasmus it seems there is a calmness that is not a temporary phase but rather a permanent fixture of his personality. Perhaps this calm and centred young man is the product of his upbringing and the environment he lives in? Ugelbølle is a coastal town that sits just a handful of kilometres from the Danish hinterland, has a culture that values team spirit, and involvement from its 1,300 or so inhabitants.
There is nothing pretentious about Rasmus. At 16 years of age he has a disarming likability that comes with the freshness of youth, and yet it is easy to see a single-minded determination running through his core. Rasmus had played football and tennis, before a trip to Kalø golfklub with his grandfather Poul changed his sporting passion. Poul thought it was about time his young grandson was introduced to a sport he himself had played for almost twenty years. Rasmus, still only ten years of age had known about golf before when his classmates had tried to encourage him to join in, but it was the wise words of Poul that provided the spark necessary to ignite the youngster’s interest.
Born without a right under arm [forearm] Rasmus uses a strap to fasten the club to his right arm and grips the club with his left hand. “I don’t see any problems with having half an arm,” says Rasmus, who was selected for the Danish Para Golf Team and really enjoys getting together with his teammates on their regular training sessions. “I don’t want people to feel sorry for me,” he says, “we have a good coach Jan Freij who helps me.” He also learns from the other team players, and with the four-time European Individual Champion Stefan Mørkholt as a teammate he is learning fast. Although Rasmus looks up to Stefan and the others who from time to time help him out with the occasional tip, he is direct when he says of playing with Stefan, “I hope to beat him one day soon.”
Although he is already proving himself as one of the best young players in Denmark, until now he has not really thought much about the future when leaving school. Currently he is happy playing golf for fun with his friends, although he says, “It gets very competitive on the course.” Over the last year, Rasmus has been competitive as he has taken his first steps on the European Disabled Golf Association’s Tour. As a 2017 rookie, Rasmus quickly learned that the level of play is high, but he is up to the task and has made real progress. He took part in the EDGA demo team at the Portugal Masters in Vilamoura where he found the opportunity to stand shoulder to shoulder with the stars of the European Tour very inspiring. Rasmus likes the EDGA tournaments as he says, “Many players are almost the same as me, and it is nice to talk and get to know them.”
With the goal of standing on the podium in the next European Individual Championship in two years time, Rasmus has been working not only on his golf technique but also his physical conditioning especially in the winter, when he hits the gym six times per week. In the season unsurprisingly this intensity reduces as his practice load increases.
One spectator at the recent European Championship said of Rasmus, “Isn’t he a very calm and nice young man…and what power he has when he hits the ball.” An unflappable demeanour and powerful golf swing are two essential ingredients of the cocktail required to reach the top of a sport which is unforgiving in its ability to find and expose any weakness in personality or technique. Rasmus is well on his way and is true to the maxim which he is happy to share with others who have a similar disability when he says, “Keep working – someday it will come good.”
Rasmus Lot and the EDGA demonstration team in front of the crowds and television cameras at the 2017 Portugal Masters
Watch the EDGA demonstration team of six players teamed up with European Tour golfers to play the EDGA Greensomes Challenge in front of the crowds and television cameras at the 2017 Portugal Masters. The EDGA team comprising of Mike Gays, Juan Postigo Arce, Monique Kalkman, Pedro Sottomayor, Aurélien Lacour and Rasmus Lot all played exeptionally well with Monique tapping in the winning put.
“do everything you want in life, it may take a little longer, but try”
EDGA golfer Mette Wegge Lynggaard talks with Tony Bennett about her life and the challenges of being diagnosed with cerebral palsy of her left side
Listen to EDGA’s Tony Bennett chatting with Mette Wegge Lynggaard
“If you want you can try, if you cannot do it then you can train to be better, or you can sit down and cry,” so says Louise and Torben, the parents of Mette Wegge Lynggaard. This is the life philosophy that has carried this woman from the largest and most populous island in Denmark, Zealand, to the fairways of the world as a competitor in the Danish Para Golf team.
The word ‘team’ has a strong connection to Mette who considers herself a team player, even though she has excelled in two disciplines that are often viewed by the general public as individual sports, Mette brings a different outlook, and says “Swimming looks like an individual sport, and it is when you get in the water, but there is a whole team around you, with coaches and teammates, golf is similar.” Had it not been for a team we may never have seen Mette competing in the European Championships, for it was a conversation at her home club Skjoldenæsholm Golfklub that changed her view, “We agreed to start a team, and from there it just went on,” says Mette when talking about how golf became important in her life.
Mette had started to play around thirteen years of age with her older brother and mother, but says “It is not easy with two siblings in the same sport.” She quit golf for almost 12 years before returning when a boyfriend who played encouraged her to start again, “It was like riding a bike,” she says when describing the feeling of coming back to the game. For a couple of years, it was just for fun and then came the conversation amongst her friends to start a team.
So what is it about the team feeling that is so important to Mette, who has competed for the Danish teams in both swimming and golf? “It’s like a family really, the same as it is with the EDGA tournaments, there are six of us here from Denmark [four men and two women] in this championship, but in the whole group we are about 20-25 players,” says Mette. It is that feeling of being together, doing her individual part of a collective objective that seems to drive Mette, and drive she has in bucket loads. As it is for most elite swimmers, there is training and more training, both wet and dry. In the pool for a couple of hours early in the morning before six or seven hours at school, and then another hour and a half in the water or the gym to complete the day. This relentless schedule of training can break even the strongest of competitors, and yet the discipline that they develop can stay with them for life.
The physical demands of such a training load are considerable, and of course, it is easy to forget that Mette is diagnosed as having a cerebral palsy of her left side. The effects are particularly noted in the left side of her body, the leg and arm particularly where she has little strength. In swimming, she took part in the S10 classification where weakness affecting the legs, or missing legs below the knee are commonly found. This congenital disorder which can vary in severity affects one in every 500 people resulting in more than 17 million people around the world have the condition. Mette has a milder form than her twin brother who is also affected, and both enjoyed being part of the community called (name) that was supportive to other sufferers, and now she is older she likes to give something back. Typical of the team player mentality, Mette devotes several hours a week on a volunteer basis to help others with a disability to have the experiences that she was afforded as a youngster at the swimming club. Twice per week, she gives a forty-five minutes swim class for beginners at Ringsted Handicap Idræts Forening along with a further three hours devoted to the more competitive swimmers.
Coaching has and continues to play, an essential role in the life of Mette. The swimming coaches were replaced by the club professionals at her golf club, and the physical trainer who helped her along the road to better health and fitness. With these personal experiences Mette has a clear understanding of what it takes to coach, after all, her contribution as a swim coach is meaningful to those she supports, but with typical modesty she explains that she is “not good enough” to coach golf although she goes on to say “I could help out with the juniors.”
In many ways Mette has precisely the inquisitive mind that is important for a coach, she recognises that in golf for the disabled, some of the so-called rules for golf technique cannot work, “We have to tell everybody that they can play [regardless of their disability]…we are here [The European Championships] with eighty players and eighty different types of golf.” Every day she is inspired when looking along the range and seeing players with disability working on their games and most importantly smiling. Smiling is something that Mette does easily, it is rare to see her looking down or serious, although there must be times when she finds the going tough. Her maxim of “I play – I win,” helps as she realises that even to take part is a victory in some ways and when asked for what advice she would give to someone who has a similar disability to herself she says, “do everything you want in life, it may take a little longer, but try.” Mette has taken her own advice to heart and every day she tries to be better at everything she does.
EDGA golfer and ex field hockey player Timo Klischan talks with Tony Bennett about his life and the challenges of being born with Brachial Plexus Palsy
Listen to EDGA’s Tony Bennett chatting with Timo Klischan
Timo Klischan embodies the values of a team player in what is an individual game. Golf was very much a second sport for Timo, whose first love was Field Hockey, where he played in the unenviable position of goalkeeper.
Donning the goalie jersey is not for the faint-hearted. Being the last line of defence carries incredible pressure, as one mistake often leads to the opposing team registering a goal. The responsibility of leading the defensive structure can break those with fragile confidence, and of course, there is the danger of putting one’s body on the line to stop attack-minded players and a rock hard ball. With a chest protector, padded pants, gloves and a helmet the goalie looks more like the iconic Ghostbusters character Marshmallow Man, or perhaps the Michelin man who for years sold tyres to an eager population. Hidden under the heavy protective equipment Timo played for (TSC Eintracht Dortmund) in the third division of the German league. With a disability that is not too obvious even in his day to day business attire, it was indeed not visible under the almost twenty kilos of equipment that he wore for every match. Take away the kit and Timo is very slender, and could be mistaken for a middle distance athlete. He looks fit, healthy and entirely at ease with many of the psychological attributes he has honed in Hockey clearly evident. Timo is adaptable, resilient and has determination seeping from every pore of his body.
Timo was born with Brachial Plexus Palsy, which means there was damage at birth to the network of spinal nerves that originate in the back of the neck. Take a look at his golf swing which has been meticulously crafted on the practice ground with the coaching expertise of PGA Professional Duncan Hannak, and through countless hours of painstaking training on both the range and in the gym. Timo recognises that the work they have done together has been crucial in helping him to reach his potential, “Duncan has developed over the years, and so I have been able to benefit from that, this has been a process over the years.” Well trained PGA professionals are taught to treat everyone as an individual, to look at what they can and cannot do and to shape their coaching accordingly. Timo and Duncan have used precisely this philosophy and built a swing that inevitably is right-side dominant but which has resulted in a movement where one can be forgiven for thinking that his disability has little effect. This could not be further from the truth, as Timo cannot lift his left arm due to the impairment of his biceps and deltoid muscles which just do not function. The knock-on effects are significant, a large scoliosis of the spine has affected several discs and causes frequent and sometimes debilitating pain, but typical of the man this does not seem to deter him, but rather to spur him on. At least three times per week he visits the fitness studio to work-out and develop his body to negate the effects of his disability and simply to maintain the status quo.
Now at 36 years of age and having played seriously for ten years, Timo is equipped with many skills in golf that can be used in other parts of his life and recognises the value of sport in young peoples lives. On a day to day basis, Timo works for a regional sports organisation close to Berlin which sits under the German Olympic Sports Federation (Kreissportbund Teltow-Flaeming e.V.), and which has about 200 clubs which also offer sport to young people. Golf is not one of the sports on the curriculum and when asked why not, Timo explains that in the public eye golf has plenty of money and so finds it difficult to attract governmental support. Why is it that many people see golf as being a game rather than a sport? Timo says without hesitation that golf is a sport in his mind, “What we are doing here [the European Championship] is definitely a sport, controlling the ball, competition and fitness, is certainly a sport…. we need more young people at these championships and although it is getting better we need even more to take up the game.”
Timo is at the upper end of the spectrum when we think of young players, 36 years of age is not exactly young in most sports, but the number of years from birth is just one measure. Timo exhibits the cognitive age of someone much older and yet the freshness and dreams of someone much younger. It seems to me that sport is lucky to have Timo and Timo lucky to have sports, perhaps this is a marriage made in heaven.
EDGA golfer and ex high profile football player Jes Høgh talks with Tony Bennett about his life and the effect of a massive blood clot that had formed on his brain
Listen to EDGA’s Tony Bennett chatting with Jes Høgh
When the post-match analyst professes, ‘well fans this has been a game of two halves,’ what is the real meaning behind the often used stock phrase? Perhaps there are two different stories to be told, in the first half a team is in the ascendancy whereas in the second, well let’s just say it’s a different story?
For many who have played the so-called ‘beautiful game’ there is the life of a performer with press attention, fame and adulation, then there is the life of an ex-footballer, where getting the mundane routine of normality is perhaps the biggest challenge. For most who retire in their early thirties, it is likely the first half is about striving to reach the pinnacle, while the second, which although longer, is played out in a make-do choice of career. The life of Danish footballer Jes Høgh was following a similar course, until one January night in Copenhagen, his life course took an abrupt change of direction.
With 57 caps for the Danish national team and a cabinet full of trophies after 15 years of professional football, with clubs such as Aalborg, AaB, Brøndby, Fenerbachçe, and Chelsea, Jes Høgh can deservedly look-back on a career in which he scaled the heights of the game. First, he was an attacking midfielder, but more latterly he found his calling as a central defender. But it wasn’t always football that caught the attention of Jes, handball and more surprisingly cricket vied for his attention. The thought of playing against Denmark at cricket would hardly strike fear in the test playing nations that occupy the top end of the cricket rankings, but the same could also have been said in 1992 when the Danish football team had upset the odds against Germany in the final to lift the UEFA European Championship in Sweden.
Jes had been playing football since he was six years of age, but never really thought of making it a career, until one day he arrived at Aalborg where they gave him a trial. He was twenty years old and ready to capitalise on his chance. Train, eat, sleep and repeat, became his routine as he grew in stature in the Danish league. Jes made his national team debut in 1991 in a match against Hungary, and what a start he had, scoring the Danes only goal in a 1-1 draw. By the time Euro 96 came around Jes was a regular, carving out a reputation as a skilful player able to keep potent attackers quiet for 90 minutes. His move to Fenerbachçe, where he made 115 appearances, was the next stage of a burgeoning career where became the rock of the team that won the Turkell Super League.
Jes played in the Danish World Cup team in France 98 and was in the squad for Euro 2000. “I did not get even a minute of playing in Euro 2000, due to an injury,” says Jes, who had damaged his right ankle against Sweden. One year later at 35 years old, retirement was calling. Not surprisingly with his intimate knowledge of international football, his warm personality and engaging character, a new life in TV beckoned. He had taken on the role of commentator and football analyst when one night everything changed. His new life was not that of a TV presenter but instead that of a stroke survivor.
He had returned to his hotel room after having had dinner with his TV colleagues. Jes got into bed and soon felt he was losing the right side of his body, “first it was my leg, then my arm and finally my head,” says Jes who “was just trying to survive… everything was chaos, and all I could think was what happened, what happened, what happened.” Four or five minutes passed, unable to speak, thankfully his cell phone rang. Somehow Jes managed to pick up the phone and with no words he tried to ask for help. On the other end of the call was his ex-wife who realised something was seriously wrong before calling the paramedics. That call may well have saved the life of Jes. The fast response of the medical services certainly limited the damage that was taking place due to a massive blood clot that had formed on his brain.
After three days of emergency treatment in Copenhagen came the long road back to recovery, first in Aalborg, then in the Brønderslev Neuro Rehabilitation Center. The family name Høgh comes from a Norse word meaning hill or mound and Jes was about to start slowly but surely climbing back to fitness. The second half of his life had started with five long months in the hospital, followed by hours of patient rebuilding work. Jes had to reconstruct both a damaged body and a damaged mind. Using his athlete’s mentality, Jes turned to his trusted mantra of, train, eat, sleep and repeat, “working like crazy” to wrestle back function in the right side of his body and relearning how to speak. Gym and speech therapy sessions occupied much of the following three years, as Jes slowly but surely progressed.
Jes already knew golf even in his football days and played regularly with other teammates. With a handicap of four and a game built around a sure touch on the greens and driving distances that most amateur players would envy, Jes was a confident player able to hold his own on the course. Golf was important to Jes, it kept him competitive, and involved in a healthy activity, but it was after his rehabilitation that it became crystal clear just how vital golf was to him.
Today Jes plays several times per week, and says, “in the summer months…there is something about going to the course around eight in the evening to play a few holes alone”. Here the tranquillity he finds to be alone with his thoughts, just swinging and walking are priceless. He plays the game using only his left arm and has a handicap of 34, but with a tactical awareness of someone who has played the game to a much lower handicap, Jes is a great partner to have in four-ball matches. When he is on form – well the competitive juices come flooding back – and just as in his best central defending days, he is hard to beat.
Train, eat, sleep and repeat, the mantra that has served Jes so well over the years is helping to maintain the gains he has made to recover his body and mind. The second half is just getting started.