Annika Sorenstam Talks Golf and Health

Annika Sorenstam|Annika Sorenstam
Annika Sorenstam is totally in her comfort zone as an ambassador for a new project aiming to provide a comprehensive look at golf’s positive effects on health. “I’ve always felt like golf and health should go hand in hand,” says Sorenstam. The goal of the Golf & Health Project, sponsored by the World Golf Foundation, is to drive increased participation in golf, improve the sport’s public image and increase support for golf in politics, all through promoting its benefits to physical and mental health. Among its findings after reviewing thousands of research papers: Golfers live up to five years longer than nongolfers. For Sorenstam, who won 72 LPGA tournaments—including 10 majors—over her professional career from 1992 to 2008, the biggest reason for involvement with the Golf & Health Project is generating awareness. “Obviously golf is a sport, but when you look at it from a well-being standpoint, it contributes on so many levels,” she says. “It’s muscular and cardiovascular, but it’s also being outside and being social. It also requires you to think.” Sorenstam’s thoughts on staying in shape shifted as she progressed as a golfer. “Early in my career, it wasn’t so structured. I’d go run a little bit and hit the gym,” she recalls. When she got more serious about the game, around 2000, her routine become much more regimented. “I realized I needed to train like other athletes, to have a program and figure out where my weaknesses were.”

Annika Stays Active

Her new program involved lots of weightlifting, especially upper body—arms, back and shoulders—as well as core. Consistency was also key. “I would work out five days a week when I was home and three days on the road,” she says. Her hard work paid off: “I noticed a different in my clubhead speed and muscle control,” she recalls. Now that she’s retired, Sorenstam says she works out for different reasons, like keeping up with her 5-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter. She’s even learning a thing or two from her daughter about the sport. “I’ll try to teach her something and she’ll say, ‘No, I know how to do it,’” she says, laughing. Sorenstam also has her hands full with another project: designing a golf course planned to open west of Minneapolis in summer 2018. While this is her fourth course design, the 27-hole complex—known as King and Queen—is her first in the United States. The goal behind the course is to give players a chance to hit every club in their bag, she says. “Golf is similar to life in so many ways,” says Sorenstam. “Whether you’re a man or woman, young or old, professional or amateur, you can always play the game.”