Robert Baker is one of the world’s most successful golf coaches. In an interview, he speaks about the transformation in the sport of golf and the most emotional moments in his career.
The South African has led star players such as Ernie Els to the top of the world rankings. He has also been a consultant to legendary players like Steve Ballesteros, Greg Norman, Nick Price, and Nick Faldo. Celebrities from around the globe trust in his advices to achieve the perfect swing – from Barack Obama to Michael Bloomberg and movie and sport stars like Sylvester Stallone, Wadimir Klitschko, and Michael Jordan. With his company Logical Golf, Baker, who was successful in the South African Tour as a player himself, is now also helping ambitious amateurs achieve personal success.
When did you discover your passion for golf?
RB: I played various sports as a child in South Africa. Aged 13, I tried out golf. When you hit a tennis or cricket ball, it flies pretty well. But when you strike a golf ball, it flies five times further than any other ball. At a young age, that was a total shock for me and from that day on, I was addicted.
What does a typical day look like for you now?
RB: I barely watch any TV. I prefer to exercise, whether it is yoga or swimming; I like to go to the gym, take time to enjoy food, and sleep a lot. I am constantly traveling the world, so I need to stay fit and find time to rest.
Our age is one of transformation. Do you also notice that in golf?
RB: Golf has changed a lot over the years. The high-performance clubs and balls mean shots travel further and at higher speed. The best players spend a lot of time in the gym and lift weights. It has become a power sport. You need to be able to hit the ball a long way to challenge the best in the world.
What makes a good golfer?
RB: Firstly, you need good technique to make the ball fly and keep it under control. But you also need intellect and self-confidence. It’s about a tiny ball and tiny club head that you swing in a huge arc. So you have to think positively and always tell yourself that you can do it; that you can hit a good shot.
What do you prefer: being a pro player or a coach?
RB: There is a big difference between playing golf and teaching it. Golf lessons can be difficult because the customers are expecting results for their money. But that is nothing compared to being a professional golfer. As a one-man show, every error counts. The pressure in professional golf is huge. I much prefer being a coach!
Which people have been particularly important in your career?
RB: I’m more of a shy and humble person. That is not ideal when you are giving golf lessons. And in America, most people are more extroverted than in Europe. Sylvester Stallone helped me a lot in presenting myself better. He was a great inspiration to me and gave me tremendous confidence to convey my message better.
"Golf has changed a lot over the years. The high-performance clubs and balls mean shots travel further and at higher speed."
Why do so many professionals and VIPs trust your methods?
RB: Golf is very hard to learn. You have to handle a lot of information. With that in mind, I have tried to present the geometry and physics of golf in a simple and systematic way. They say “a picture paints more than a thousand words,” so all my training and teaching aids are moving visual images. This makes it easier for people to understand and retrieve the information when they hit a ball.
You have been working with Mercedes-AMG for many years. What does the brand mean to you?
RB: A Mercedes-AMG has everything I want from a car: elegance, comfort, and performance. You can travel comfortably, and you can bring out the power when you need it. And all AMGs look really great. Honestly, if I wasn’t an AMG brand ambassador, it’s exactly the kind of car I would buy.
You have been an ambassador of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation for years. Why is that commitment so important to you?
RB: Being an ambassador for Laureus Sport for Good is something very special for me. Like everyone else in the Laureus network – made up of the world’s greatest athletes – I believe in the vision formulated by Nelson Mandela in 2000: “Sport has the power to change the world.” In this context, Laureus teaches children the values of fairness, consideration, togetherness, and responsibility via sport. You can particularly see how well sport works in this regard when you train outside with the children yourself and motivate them through the sports programs. In this way, important information is combined with fun in sport – fun that all ambassadors worldwide share with the children. I am so proud to have been working with Laureus for 20 years, to be part of that family, and to be making the world a little bit better in my role as an ambassador and role model for the kids.
Change the Games for Kids
Since the foundation was set up in the year 2000, Mercedes-AMG has been involved with and supported the aims and values of Laureus Sport for Good’s global nonprofit program, facing up to social challenges around the world. The international aid organization uses the power of sport to combat violence, discrimination, and racism. Laureus supports more than 200 programs in more than 40 countries worldwide to provide lasting improvement to the lives of children and adolescents. The commitment of Mercedes-AMG is a fundamental part of the company’s acceptance of its social responsibility.
Photography I Marc Schäfer