Date: November 13, 2018
Author: Martin Blake

German golfer preps for AAAC with ace

Timo Klischan had his first-ever hole-in-one today, and the fact that it happened on the beautiful 18th hole at The Lakes on the eve of the #AusOpenGolf only added to the sense of excitement.

For Klischan, 36, is no ordinary golfer.

He has had Brachial Plexus Palsy of his left arm since birth, giving him virtually no use of the arm.

Klischan took up golf when he was 18 and finds himself playing off a handicap of 3.2, winning his club championship in Berlin twice and also winning the disabled Open of Finland. He drives the ball 220 metres. “It’s more about technique,” he said. “It’s about where you put the club.’’

The German is one of the dozen players from around the world in Sydney this week for the All Abilities Championship presented by ISPS Handa, a world-first event where disabled golfers will compete in amongst the professionals on the same course for world ranking points. He is ranked No. 7 in the world.

Like all of the competitors in the AAC, he pays little mind to his disability despite having to deal with it all his life. “It was a mistake by the doctor,’’ he said. “I was the wrong way around in the womb. I came out legs first and my arm was stuck and the nerves were cut. I can swing my arm up but I can’t hold it up in the air. I can grip the club (for golf).

“I started out playing field hockey and indoor hockey. My parents wanted me to do sports because they thought it was a good idea for someone with a disability. I played tennis a little bit and at 18 I started to play golf in Dortmund (his hometown).

“I think the swing pattern is similar to hockey so I basically knew how to hit the ball. Afterwards, we had to get rid of the classical hockey swing and make it more of a golf swing. But it took a couple of years.’’

The game has strong challenges for Klischan. “I tend to pull the ball because I can’t push my left wrist through the shot. If I don’t control my right arm and push my right arm out, I go around my body and hit it left. It’s a problem with putting too.’’

But he is hardly complaining. Told a few months ago that All Abilities players would be able to compete at the #AusOpenGolf, he immediately began practising harder.

“I was nervous in the last few weeks. When I was chipping yesterday, a couple of pros came on the green and it was a moment where I thought: ‘Do I have to get out?’ But the conditions are perfect. I don’t think I’ve ever played conditions like this. The wind is a factor. I just like it.’’

Today’s hole-in-one was a career highlight. “It was a hybrid club,’’ he said. “We had it at 175 metres, back into the wind from the left. It went straight, actually, a pretty clean shot. It landed on the front of the green, as we wanted, it bumped a couple of times and then someone said: ‘I think it’s gone in!’ I couldn’t see but some guy in a kart went up to have a look. He drove off, then looked in the hole and waved back at us.’’

The All Abilities Championship is to be held on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at The Lakes.