SAS Talents: Watch the birdie
ports have always been part of Eric Karlberg’s existence and if life hadn’t taken certain twists and turns during his childhood, he may have just as easily become a pro skier or soccer player. Instead, when he was seven, his father’s job took the family to Östersund and it was there he first picked up a golf club.
“My parents played golf and my dad was decent,” explains Karlberg. “I followed him to the golf course and before long, I was spending my summer holidays riding to the club and spending all day practising with my friends. In the winter, we skied and I was equally determined to be a downhill skier.”
When Karlberg was 13, the family moved back to Gävle, which left him far away from the slopes and somewhat frustrated.
“In the late 80s, the winters were really bad, so it was impossible to try to be a -skier,” he says.
Instead of wallowing in disappointment, Karlberg joined Gävle Golf Club and there, his skills took a giant leap.
“When I realized I’d found the perfect place to become really good, I thought, ‘Ok, I’m in the perfect environment. Let’s do this.’ My attitude was to become the best I could be.”
And that he did. By his teens, he was part of Sweden’s National Junior Team and had already played several tournaments, including the World Amateur Championships in Paris, where Sweden came third. The US came first, which wasn’t a big surprise because they had Tiger Woods, who was already a major sensation, on their team.
Karlberg won twice on the European Tour, and played all over the world before deciding to give up playing professionally in 2005 and starting out as a professional golf instructor at Lidingö Golf Club near Stockholm.
He spent 11 years there but in 2017, he decided it was time for another change – one that had its roots back in his childhood.
“When I was a kid living in Östersund, our house was near the airport, so between the ages of 7 and 14, I saw SAS planes flying overhead every day. That, combined with spending so much time in airports and on planes when I was on the tour – some 250 days a year – made going to work for SAS feel very natural.”
Today, Karlberg flies out of Arlanda on routes across the Nordics and Europe, and next year he hopes to add long-haul to his roster. He’s also moving into Senior Cabin Crew and feels there are a lot of adventures ahead of him.
The question now, of course, is if he misses the world of golf.
“No, not really,” he laughs. “I’m quite fortunate. This is a new chapter in my life and I am really enjoying it. And golf courses around the world will always be there!
Published: January 3, 2019