Markus Brier is delighted with the progress being made in Austrian golf as he prepares for the second edition of the tournament he created, the Karnten Golf Open by Markus Brier Foundation.
The European Tour Member set up the Foundation with his brother three years ago to help young golf professionals, amateurs and children in his country, and last year was the inaugural tournament at Klagenfurt-Seltenheim Golf Club.
Brier hosted a coaching clinic for local children on Wednesday, and will play in the tournament alongside Englishman Charlie Ford and Colombian David Vanegas in the first two rounds.
“About three years ago with my brother Indy we thought about doing something,” explained the 41 year old. “The first idea was to do something for the amateurs and young pros and to help. Then we realised we wanted to help kids too so we divided it into three categories - young pros, good amateurs and kids.
“We want to show golf to the kids and motivate them because in Austria it’s not so easy for kids to do. You have to be lucky and have a teacher who’s interested in golf, so we’re doing a few things such as the Austrian Pupils’ Cup. Kids from eight years old play little tournaments, and we try to arrange kids’ days like the one here this week.
“In the Foundation we have some young pros and good amateurs and we try to use them to go out there and show the kids a few things about golf.”
Brier admits he was fortunate to be introduced to golf when he was a youngster because of a sporty father, and did not have the same opportunities as children are given today.
“I was really lucky because my brother is two years older and our father was a sports teacher in a school so he was always interested in sports and got us into golf, which hardly existed in Austria then,” he said. “We were lucky because my brother and I always had each other and our father pushed the two of us. Now it’s a bit better because I go to clubs and they have training and practice sessions for kids and youths. So it’s getting better but there can always be improvement.
“We are making good progress. Before it was only one or two (Austrian) players but now it’s more like four or five playing regularly on the Challenge Tour and making top tens so it’s improving and that’s the main thing.
“When I started on The European Tour I remember it was really only me and one other guy on the Challenge Tour. So it’s good and maybe it’ll take another two or three years to get two or three players on the main Tour. It’s getting better but you have to give the guys the opportunities.”
Twelve months ago the inaugural Karnten Golf Open by Markus Brier Foundation had a worthy champion in Christophe Günther, who was five shots off the lead heading into the final day but carded a stunning ten under par 62 to win by one stroke.
Brier hopes this year will be even better. “It was a very good first tournament,” he said. “It’s always hard the first time. Hopefully this year will be a bit easier. So far it’s looking good. The course is looking good and we are really trying.
“We are very lucky to have the tournament here and the promoter, Peter Hofstetter, is also on the board of our Foundation. We were sitting together after we lost our other Challenge Tour event, the MAN NÖ Open, two years ago and we said we have to do something. We wanted to give our players an opportunity to play and we also wanted to raise funds for the Foundation to put back into helping players and creating new events for kids.
“The last two years have been very tricky on the economic side. The first year we were very successful and got a lot of sponsors and support but the last two years haven’t been that easy so this week is actually very important for us from the financial side.
“Peter is trying very hard because it’s his baby and he puts all his heart in and has always got the Foundation in the back of his mind and that’s what you need when you do something like this. My brother and a few other guys are working so hard and, like me, have had 30 years in golf and now want to give something back.”