Nine Questions with Annika Sorenstam

By Adam Schupak

Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

The 10-time major champion on why parenting is good for golf (and vice versa), what she learned from designing courses with Jack and Arnie, and what she’d cook for your dinner party

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If you had the time to prepare fully and make a return to the LPGA Tour, how do you think you’d do?

I don’t really know. I feel good. Physically, I could do it. I’ve had no injuries. From a mental standpoint, I think I’m stronger. Being a mom makes you really tough. It’s hard to say and I don’t want to take anything away from the ladies playing today, but how long would it take me to shoot under par? Maybe a few months. 

Do you think you could still win?

That is a different story. These girls hit it a little farther now. But the bigger issue is I don’t have the drive anymore. I was hungry when I played and you can’t underestimate the importance of that 15th club. I don’t have that today. 

If being a mother of two has made you tougher, how has being a winner on the golf course impacted your parenting skills?

The things required of you on the golf course also test you as a mother: patience, focus, determination, and consistency are all things that make good qualities  in a parent.

I’m told you can’t attend a dinner party without preparing your own dish. What would you bring to my house?

That’s true. I do that a lot. I’ll bring ingredients to make a side or appetizer. If not, I’ll put on an apron and say put me to work. The kitchen to me is a gathering point. I like that part and I like to cook and eat good food. So, I would ask you first what you’re making and I’d try to complement whatever you’re preparing.

You’ve had the chance to work with both Jack and Arnold from a design standpoint. What did you learn from them?

I spent quite a bit of time with Jack Nicklaus when we worked on our dual proposal for the Rio 2016 Olympic Course. We never built it, but I feel like we went through it and I visualized and learned from him. And I learned Arnold Palmer’s philosophy when we teamed to design Royal Golf Club (near Minneapolis). He wanted everyone to play and have fun. Jack was more about shotmaking, how to play certain shots.

How hard a field is golf course design for a woman to break into?

A lot of people say if you sign 10 deals you should be lucky if you finish two. I have built four of 10. I have a few sitting there and I’m hoping they will get to the next step. 

Rank the women’s majors.

I’ve always been a U.S. Women’s Open fan so that would be my No. 1. ANA has history; it’s kind of like our Masters. I never got to play the KPMG PGA: I wish I had, the purse and courses feel major. The British has been around. Evian has its own tradition and importance, it just doesn’t have the history yet as a major. 

What major sporting event would you most like to attend?

I’ve never been to Wimbledon. It’s held in July, which was when I played. Mark McCormack invited me once and I wish I had taken him up on it. I was pretty good at tennis as a kid. Tennis was big in Sweden because of Bjorn Borg. He was our national hero. I loved his demeanor and kind of made it my own. 

What’s your biggest regret as a golfer?

That I didn’t smell the roses along the way. I was so focused. My goal was to leave knowing I’d given it my all and I’m glad I did. But it also meant living
in my little golf bubble. All you do is practice, compete, and travel. You live by shots and you live by tournaments, then you slip away and realize there are some other fun things to do.