by Tom Cade, Editor
Walking the grounds of Sahalee Country Club in Sammamish, Wash. during the pro-am day earlier this week prior the start of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, the place was buzzing with activity, workers and staff going in all directions preparing for the tournament week.
As one of the gator carts (one of the greenskeeping carts) whizzed by me, a colleague turned to me and said, “Do you know who that was, driving that thing?”
“That was one of the best women’s golfers in the history of the game.”
“That was Annika Sorenstam.”
I looked again. And indeed it was. World Golf Hall of Famer Annika (who, like Cher, only needs one name to identify her) was driving around the grounds, almost unrecognizable as she cruised through the dusty paths along the fairways and back lots of Sahalee. We saw her a couple more times.
Sitting down with her the next day, I asked her what was she doing, driving all over the place as though she were simply one of the other grounds crew.
She laughed. “I was doing a lot of things that day. I was familiarizing myself with the course for my work on TV (she’ll be in the tower on the 18 th green, serving as an analyst for Golf Channel), checking in with some of the players (she is the captain of the European team for the 2017 Solheim Cup), and preparing for my duties at the KPMG Women’s Leadership Summit (at which she served as one of the featured speakers, providing the closing session for the Summit).
Busy? Yes. And there’s more. She is also in the midst of designing two golf courses, one in Estonia and one in Minnesota. “I do mostly renovations now, though,” she said. “It keeps me busy enough.”
She also has a clothing line through Seattle-based Cutter & Buck, and heads the ANNIKA Foundation which she founded in 2007 to give young children the same opportunities she had as a child to live a healthy life, and which annually conducts three major tournaments for junior golfers as well as the annual ANNIKA Intercollegiate.
In 2008, Annika was named the “Most Caring Athlete” by USA Weekend magazine (along with New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning).
She obviously is staying with the game, and her has expanded far beyond her legacy as a player. “I really don’t see it as work,” she said of her busy schedule. “I love the game, and I care about it. The game gave a lot to me, and it seems only right that I give a lot to it.”
During her playing career, she won the 1998 Safeco Classic, the LPGA Tour event that was held at Meridian Valley Country Club in Kent, Wash. from 1982-1999. “Back then, I didn’t have status on the tour, so I had to Monday-qualify to get in. I think I was the first player to win that tournament who had to Monday-qualify just to get in to it.”
A legend with humble beginnings. How good is that.