Making an impact off the course: Annika Sörenstam gives girls access to the world of golf
The record-breaking athlete sat down to discuss her work with The R&A's Women in Golf Charter and the ANNIKA Foundation to help make golf more accessible for women and girls, as well as what inspired her to start playing, and what advice she would give to her younger self.
Annika Sörenstam is a truly legendary golfer. In her dominating days at the University of Arizona, she earned NCAA All-American status, a Player of the Year award, and a Pac-10 Championship; in her professional career, she won 72 times on the LPGA Tour, including 10 majors, and shattered a record that still holds today, with the only sub-60 round in LPGA history. Sörenstam was even awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2020, joining an illustrious list that includes only five other golfers.
While she still loves playing the sport post-retirement, Sörenstam now derives satisfaction from the impact she makes off-course, working with her ANNIKA Foundation and supporting the Women in Golf Charter, led by The R&A, to encourage more women and girls to play golf and shape the industry to become more welcoming to female professionals. The latter initiative, in partnership with Mastercard, also hopes to get other clubs to join the #FOREeveryone movement by signing on to the Women in Golf Charter and making commitments to inclusivity for all ages and genders. We recently sat down with Sörenstam to discuss her thoughts on women in golf, how her foundation is inspiring more women and girls to consider becoming a golfer, and what she feels is priceless. Remember to check out Sörenstam's golfing tips video to get expert advice from one of the best in golfing history.
What inspired you to enter golf, and what do you think we can do to continue inspiring girls and women to engage with the sport?
My parents first introduced me to the sport. I started playing at the age of 12 and certainly haven't looked back. And as far as continuing the momentum, the ANNIKA Foundation now has more than 600 girls who play in events every year, in the seven global tournaments. We have more than 60 global countries represented. And many of these young girls have gone on to play professional golf.
What advice would you give your younger self?
My dad taught me early on that there are no shortcuts to success. And I would say the other thing that comes to my mind is to smell the roses along the way.
Annika with Anna Zanusso of Italy after she won the 2018 ANNIKA Invitational Europe
Where do you want to see Women in Golf next year?
Hopefully, we can continue the momentum that women's golf has right now: we've increased the girls' participation rate from 15%, 15 years ago, to over 34%, which is huge! Let's increase participation, let's get exposure, and let's give women and girls access to the game of golf.
What is Priceless to you?
What's priceless to me, in a pretty quick answer, is family. I love spending time with my family. It is everything that I wanted and everything that I needed.