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annika

Annika Sorenstam’s Version of Retirement

It just might be as busy as competing on the LPGA Tour

By Matt McKay

A foundation that runs six tournaments annually, benefitting women’s golf at all levels. Golf course design. A clothing line. Captain of a major international sports team. Wife, mom, taxi driver, cheerleader…even co-owner of a concrete business.

That’s “retirement” for Annika Sorenstam, and that’s just how she likes it.

Sorenstam walked away from the LPGA Tour at the end of the 2008 season, arguably at the top of her game. She ended the year at No. 3 in the Rolex World Rankings, won three tournaments and finished tied for seventh in her final tournament, the Dubai Ladies Masters. Her professional career wrapped up with a total of 93 wins (72 on the LPGA Tour, 17 on the Ladies European Tour), 10 majors and three ANA Inspiration titles.

Yet even as she announced her retirement in May of 2008, her ultra-active future was already in place. In fact, she cited her willingness to transition into the business, philanthropic and family world during her announcement. She also declared her intention to wed Mike McGee, son of former PGA Tour player Jerry McGee and managing director for her brand. The two tied the knot in January 2009, and now have two children, Ava (7) and William (5).

Since then, she has not looked back, gaining traction in all of her current endeavors, and actually expanding her list of responsibilities by taking on the captaincy of the European Solheim Cup team and becoming an investor in Capillary Concrete, which produces a protective and draining sub-base for sports areas. She’s also taken her expanding parental role head-on, acting as a major force in Ava and William’s lives by doing the things most moms do: transporting them to games, cheering them on at games, helping them with homework, dropping them off at school and being there in general.

“It’s a fun time for me. What I really love about my job is I get to pick and choose what I like to do,” she says. “I’m very fortunate that I can work a little here on design when it’s that time of year, then I move on to maybe photo shoots for the clothing. Then I spend a few hours every week on Capillary Concrete, which I never thought I would. But that’s what happens when you retire from golf; you learn about concrete.”

Sorenstam has other concrete responsibilities outside the house, including the Annika Foundation, which provides opportunities in women’s golf at the junior, collegiate and professional levels while teaching young people the importance of living a healthy, active lifestyle through fitness and nutrition. It hosts six tournaments a year globally, recently conducting its annual U.S. event at Reunion Resort in Orlando. This fall, the foundation will host the Annika Intercollegiate in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and will also conduct events in China, Argentina, and Sweden.

Then there’s Annika Course Design, responsible for seven major projects worldwide including a joint effort with Arnold Palmer Design in Lake Elmo, Minnesota. The two firms are combining to renovate the former Tartan Park Golf Course owned by 3M Corporation. The 27-hole facility will be pared down to 18 holes, with nine designed by Sorenstam and nine designed by Palmer, hence it’s new name: The King & The Queen.

Sorenstam has also been working relentlessly on her clothing business, the Annika Collection, since retirement from the professional game, and her designs are now available at courses from municipal facilities to clubs hosting the LPGA Tour. And, of course, the Solheim Cup now requires more of her attention as this year’s competition gets closer. The 2017 event is scheduled for August 14-20 at the Des Moines Golf and Country Club in West Des Moines, Iowa.

“I would say I love to stay busy, I love doing things,” Sorenstam says. “That’s one of the reasons I don’t miss competitive golf, because I have so many other things going that I like. If I didn’t have that, I’d probably be sitting at home wondering what life on tour would be like. So having all theses balls in the air is fun. I’m learning a lot about a lot of different things. Kids certainly challenge you, so it’s just a different type of life, a different chapter of my life. “

Upon learning about Sorenstam’s post-LPGA lifestyle, most are inclined to wonder how she does it. Sorenstam says it helps to simply be that type of person—one who loves to work, loves to learn and loves to stay busy. She also says time management is crucial to getting it all done, along with the ability to compartmentalize her focus, taking on one task as a time and thinking of nothing else.

“Time management is very important to me. I try to structure my time to be efficient and scheduling is really important,” she says. “This morning I’ll be working on this, and next week I’ll be working on this, so it’s all about scheduling and quality time. When I do it, I’m doing it. I try not to be interrupted with something else. After a few hours I’m done focusing on that [project] and I’m ready for something else.”

To help balance work and family life, Sorenstam tries to limit out-of-town business trips to 24-hour affairs, with a goal of being home for bedtime or, at the very least, home in the morning in time for breakfast and a quick shuttle to school. On the weekends, the family enjoys simply spending time together, hanging out in Orlando.

As much as she loves her work, Sorenstam says one day she will slow down. “You go though career changes when you get to different phases of your life,” she says. “The Solheim Cup won’t be around after August, so that will free me up. With the foundation, we’re making great headway, so I see myself continuing to work on that. And I love my collection; I’d like for that to continue.

But as her kids get older, she wants to spend more time with them. “I want to be there, I want to learn with them and help them along as much as I can. Again, I don’t mind being busy. I like the juggling back and forth. It gives you a little variety. I think it’s important to do what you like also. I think I’m a better mom if I can do the things I enjoy, then spend time with [my children] on their things.”

Matt McKay is a staff writer with Desert Golf & Tennis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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