Photo: Annika Sorenstam Foundation
An interview with Annika Sorenstam
Retired professional golfer/businesswoman, Orlando; age 44
I competed in tennis for many years. That was my sport. I loved downhill skiing. And I played volleyball and Ping Pong and badminton and ultimate Frisbee. Golf was something my parents played.
People talk about specializing with their kids when they're 10 or 11. I certainly don't agree with that. Because I think you learn a lot from other sports. If I would have chosen a sport at 10, I would never have been introduced to golf.
When I started earning some money, I wanted to make sure I made the right decisions. I had a million dollars sitting in a cash account. I knew that it wasn't right, but I didn't know what to do. I told my dad, and he said, buy 'Investing 101.' So I bought a book. It said when you're age 25 or whatever, you should have 80% in equities and 20% in cash. I'm like, 'Whoa! I've got to do something.' So I literally just went out and I bought all the Dow Jones 30. I don't know if it was $20,000 each or $50,000 each. I just spent my million bucks.
I asked my (junior) coach, 'When I was 16, did you think I was going to achieve the things I did?' And he said 'no.' I said, 'what do you mean?' He said, well, it wasn't like I was 6 foot and it wasn't like I hit it 300 yards. But he said one thing that you always did is 'you always asked why, and you always tried to get better.'
When I became No. 1 in 1995, I wasn't ready. It was my second year on tour. All of a sudden, there was so much to handle outside the course. I used to practice every day. But all of a sudden I had to do photo shoots. Well, that was five hours. So what happened to my range time and my working out time? And there were interviews and media days you had to do, and it just added up and I didn't have time. I remember talking to an adviser, a past commissioner of the LPGA. He said you've got to learn how to say no.
I started a business in 2008. Who in their right mind would start a business in '08? But that was my timing. It wasn't like I had a crystal ball. And so we learned it the hard way. But here we are six years later, and we have survived, and we have done well. I tell people, it's like playing golf into the wind on a rainy day. You can either quit or you can keep going. That's how you learn. We've learned a lot.
In 2003, I had come back. I had been No. 1 in '95 and '96 and then I lost my No. 1 spot and I was back at No. 1 in 2000. So I'd reached my goal again and I was looking at ways to get better. And I thought, wouldn't it be great to compete against the men? It was just more for the experience and for testing me. So all of a sudden I had this little carrot, this extra motivation. I shot 72-74 and missed it (the cut) by a few. But you know what? Going into it, the goal was obviously to play my best. But my journey, looking back, wasn't necessarily that week. It was the whole four months.
I was a quiet, kind of shy person. I was afraid to raise my hand in school to answer questions. And it was the same thing in golf: When you play well, there's a winning speech, and you have to go up on a little stage and you have to hold a trophy and all of that. I was scared of it, and so, coming down the stretch, on hole 16 or hole 17 or hole 18, I would miss on purpose so I wouldn't win. You still got a prize, but you didn't have to say something. After awhile, my parents noticed there was something going on. So they told me the next tournament that I played in that if you finished runner-up or third place, you have to say something, too.
When you're on the course, and you start thinking about what you want to do afterward or what you're going to do next week, then I said, you know what? Maybe I'm not in the right place at the moment. So I said, I think it's time. I'm ready to walk away.
I had a lot of ideas. My mind never stops. But then you also have to channel your ideas and they have to make sense. I put together an advisory board of friends that I admire, business people that have been successful. I had like four of them, and we sat literally in a room like this, and I said, 'I have these ideas. How do I go about it?'
A lot of people think, 'oh she's coming back.' But I don't need to. I am extremely content where I am today. I don't play that much golf.
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