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#PROfiles: Claude Grenier – The Coach Who Helped Develop Austria’s First Ryder Cup Rookie5 min read

Posted on: 24th Sep 2021

Over the next three-days, the 43rd Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits will provide fans with intense trans-Atlantic rivalries, national and continental pride and immense passion from each of the side’s 12 competing players. Behind every great Ryder Cup player is a support network that is instrumental to their success including many coaches and PGA Professionals.

As the first Austrian golfer to have ever represented Team Europe in the Ryder Cup, Bernd Wiesberger will create history for the central-European nation when he tees off at Whistling Straits this weekend. But as the first match approaches today, he and the other Ryder Cup Rookies will have to face that one challenging and probing question: “Can I handle the first tee pressure of a Ryder Cup?”. Only that player can truly know the answer to that question but through solid foundations, assured technical ability and calmness under pressure, it should (in theory) carry them through.

And it is those traits that many believe will stand Wiesberger in good stead, including his former coach and PGA of Austria Professional, Claude Grenier. “When I first started working with Bernd as a junior in the Austrian team, he struggled to control his emotions, particularly after a bad shot. Now, he is quite the opposite. He is calm under pressure and that is showing in his results.”

Under normal weekly tournament conditions nerves are not necessarily a problem for players such as Bernd, but as he settled on the camera whilst speaking with the CPG, his former coach and long-standing PGA of Austria Professional could not predict exactly how he would approach his rookie appearance “I am really curious to see how he is going to react, particularly to the American fans. I expect the occasional taunt of ‘Bernd Cheeseburger’ and other good-humoured jibes being thrown towards him but if he maintains his usual tone and demeanour as he does in regular tournament play, he will be fine. It is the act of rising to the crowds that could hamper his game. It is not his style.” Grenier said.

Claude Grenier is a man that speaks softly but with real conviction. His tone and body language indicate the wealth of experience he has in relaying knowledge to others. It is clear to see why Bernd has become the player he is today, particularly with people such as Claude helping him. Whilst working with Bernd in the Junior Austrian team, Greniercould see his potential but did not anticipate the current rise to stardom he is now seeing until much later on: “He was 14 when I started working with him as part of a small group of up-and-coming Austrian players” Grenierexplained. “Bernd was an excellent student – he practiced hard and you could see he really wanted to achieve something in the game but through my experience you know that not every player can make it. Providing he remained enthusiastic, he always stood a chance and that was a big part of my role as a national coach.”

Grenier speaks from experience. Having started playing the game since the age of eight and turning Professional in 1983, he has flirted with the playing side of the game through a number of professional tours and events himself, including three appearances representing Austria in the World Cup. “After studying my Masters, I felt the road for me was teaching and so I left Canada at the time and came to Austria, where I began coaching more and playing less. Before Bernd came on the scene, I was supporting Markus Brier in his playing journey as well as the Austrian teams and I loved it. With players such as Bernd I always accentuate the basics. At the time, there were some flaws in his swing and we certainly ironed these out but maintaining his motivation and his enthusiasm to work hard and practice was key for me. That approach started to pay dividends when he turned 16 and started appearing in things like the Eisenhower trophy. That was when I realised, he could be very good.”

The relationship that Claude forged with Wiesberger over those crucial years of his development has meant the two have remained close friends up to this day. “Bernd recognises how important the organisations and structures that are in place were to his current success. The Austrian squads, the PGA of Austria and PGA Professionals such as myself all contributed to the player that he is today.” Through additional training and education that has been provided by the PGA of Austria – a CPG Member Country – Grenier has been able to hone his craft over the years. “I am very grateful to the PGA of Austria, as they have helped shape my coaching career and supported my personal development. Not only does Bernd recognise how important institutions such as the PGA and the Federation are but so do I.”

Due to this strong and coherent golf development structure, Austria now has its first player in the Ryder Cup – a moment in time that will be hugely impactful for golf in the country. “Bernd is becoming a role model for kids across the country and his appearance this week only accelerates his status amongst Austrian golfers. Make no mistake, this is a huge moment for Austrian golf. It is going to raise the level of awareness. It is a huge boost.”

When Bernd Wiesberger does stand on that first tee in Wisconsin, he can be confident that he has been taught the necessary skills, knowledge and awareness by PGA Professionals such as Claude Grenier to cope. Whether he wins all his matches or not, it almost does not matter. The mere fact that the Austrian is stood on the first tee of a Ryder Cup, preparing to do battle against the Americans, is a monumental moment in itself.



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