Bernhard Langer is a German professional golfer. He was one of the world’s leading players in the 1980s and 1990s and was ranked world number one in 1986. He has won a string of competitions in Europe and the United States during an illustrious career, including the US Masters twice, in 1985 and 1993. He is one of a select group of players to win professional tournaments on all six continents where golf is played. He has also played in 10 Ryder Cup teams and was the non-playing captain of the successful European side in 2004. Langer was raised as a Roman Catholic but his spiritual life was transformed in 1985 when he came to the conclusion that Christianity was not about religion but a relationship with God. Langer has described his relationship with God, his family and with other believers as being the most important things in his life. He was awarded an honorary OBE in 2006 and has received several honours in Germany.
Langer was raised as a Roman Catholic but his spiritual life was transformed in 1985 when he came to the conclusion that Christianity was not about religion but a relationship with God.
Early life and family
Langer was born at Anhausen, near Augsburg in West Germany in August 1957. His father was a bricklayer and his mother was a housewife. His parents were devout Roman Catholics and Langer, the youngest of three children, attended church regularly, serving as an altar boy for 10 years. Although he went to Sunday School, Langer has conceded that as he grew up, he knew very little of what it meant to be a Christian.
He began playing golf as a boy and quickly discovered he had natural talent. He started caddying for adults at the age of nine, continuing until he was 15. At this point he left school and began working as an assistant professional in Munich. By 18 he was playing on the European tour.
Bernhard Langer married his American wife, Vikki Carol, in 1984. They have four children. Langer still has a family home in Anhausen but also lives in Florida.
Career highs and lows
Langer has enjoyed considerable success. He rose to international prominence in the 1980s, becoming world number one in 1986. He twice finished runner-up in The Open Championship, in 1981 and 1984. His first major victory was the US Masters in 1985 which he won by two strokes. He won the Masters again in 1993. He went on to have victories on all of the premier tours around the world, including the PGA in North America, the European Tour – where he had more than 40 wins - and tours in Japan and Australasia. Langer is one of only a handful of players to win tournaments on every continent where golf is played. In 2002 he was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. He also played in 10 Ryder Cup teams and was the non-playing captain of the successful team in 2004. His success has continued on the senior tour for players aged over 50, where he has won the Senior Open Championship four times.
But the Ryder Cup was the setting for one of the most difficult moments in Langer’s career. In 1991, he had to sink a six-foot putt to win the tournament for Europe. It was the final shot of entire tournament and the most important shot of his career. Millions of people in more than 30 countries were watching on TV. Langer prayed silently for courage and a quiet hand. But he missed, handing victory to the Americans. Speaking later, Langer said his personal relationship with Jesus helped him to cope with the agony of a disappointment which might have crushed his confidence or even ended his career. In fact he went on to have a very successful and lucrative year.
Langer has also had to battle against the ‘yips’ where players develop a twitch when putting. He modified his technique numerous times to find a solution. His faith and the prayers and support of a Christian friend got him through the crisis.
Bernhard Langer was awarded the OBE by the UK in 2006 in recognition of his services to sport. He has also received numerous awards in his homeland, including the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of West Germany and the Silver Laurel Leaf, which is the highest sport award in Germany.
Bernhard Langer became a Christian just days after the first big success of his career, the US Masters win in 1985 which made him the world’s number one. In interviews, he has spoken of being happily married and having lots of material things but still sensing a void inside. He was taken to a Bible study led by Larry Moody, who was chaplain for golfers on the tour as they travelled between tournaments. Moody spoke about a story in the Bible book, John, where Jesus Christ met a senior Jewish leader, Nicodemus, and told him, ‘no-one can see the Kingdom of God unless they are born again…’. Langer realised that although he knew many Bible stories, his understanding of Christianity had been wrong: it wasn’t about being good and earning a place in heaven, it was about grace - having a fresh start and receiving eternal life as a gift. It became clear that what was missing in his life was a personal relationship with God and Jesus Christ.
...he has said that the most important things in his life now are his relationship with God, with other believers and with his family because those relationships will last forever.
Langer has said his Christian faith became a huge part of his life, affecting everything. It changed his perspective too, making him realise that this life is fleeting compared to eternity. Golf remained important and his faith did not diminish his competitive spirit, but he has said that the most important things in his life now are his relationship with God, with other believers and with his family because those relationships will last forever.
One of the most special moments in Langer’s career came in 1993 when he won the US Masters for a second time. As he played the final round, he has spoken of experiencing a sense of inner peace which he could not explain. He felt sure God was telling him he was going to win. Speaking on TV moments afterwards he said it was ‘wonderful to win the greatest tournament in the world’ but it meant even more because his victory came on Easter Sunday, when he and other Christians celebrated the resurrection of Jesus Christ.