Former LPGA Tour golfer Annika Sorenstam lived her dream as a Tour member for 15 years. Now nine years removed from her playing career, Sorenstam still inspires many with her clubs as well as her words.
Sorenstam spoke as part of the third annual Girls in the Game Advance Initiative held at Columbus State. Sorenstam, who is third all-time with 72 LPGA Tour wins, took center stage in an event designed to raise money to empower CSU’s female student-athletes and support their programs.
The 2003 World Golf Hall of Fame inductee spoke to the crowd about her own career and the importance of dreaming big. Along with sharing personal anecdotes, Sorenstam participated in a fairly lengthy Q&A segment, offering those in the audience the chance to pick her brain.
“The biggest message was to follow your passion,” Sorenstam said. “Sports is a good thing in a lot of ways. Obviously, there’s going to be some hurdles along the way, but don’t give up. Follow your passion and keep doing your sport.”
Sorenstam’s motivation to speak in such settings comes partly from what makes herself tick. She said that she draws a lot of energy from hearing others’ success stories and uses their words of wisdom as a means to help herself in different facets of life.
At one point, Sorenstam told the crowd, “I don’t think we were put on this planet to do one thing and then say ‘thank you’ and ‘goodbye.’” That mindset has certainly been evident in her own life.
Sorenstam has remained busy since retiring from the Tour in 2008. She has the ANNIKA Foundation, which works to provide opportunities in women’s golf at all levels while also teaching young people the importance of a healthy, active lifestyle.
Along with her foundation, she devotes time to designing golf courses, serving as a television commentator, spending time with her family and managing her other business interests.
“I seem to pick up things everywhere,” Sorenstam said. “I’m not necessarily retired — I feel like I’m busier than I’ve ever been. I’m spending time on what I love to do and where I feel like I can make an impact.”
It was only natural that if Sorenstam was showing up, she would eventually get a golf club in her hands.
After Sorenstam’s speech, she and several members of the crowd headed to Columbus State’s Burger King Stadium, where she led a golf clinic. With Lady Cougars softball players Mary Horne and Kristin Studds serving as fielders, Sorenstam sent golf ball after golf ball their way and also offered her tips to those watching.
Sorenstam ribbed the players as she aimed in their directions, playfully reminding Horne that softball players often dive to make a catch. In between her speech and her golf lessons, Sorenstam explained she had never been to Columbus prior to Wednesday’s visit.
“Golf has taken me to a lot of fun places,” Sorenstam said. “What it is they say? You save the best for last, right?”
Jordan D. Hill: 770-894-9818, @lesports