How well do you know this pioneer in women’s golf?
Though Annika Sörenstam stepped off the professional golf stage in 2008, she continues to make an impact on the sport with her businesses and foundation. Lauded as one of the greatest golfers of her generation, Sörenstam broke records throughout her 16-year career, won an endless stream of awards, and all but revolutionized the way the world viewed female golfers. Even now, more than a decade into her retirement, she’s still making meaningful contributions.
Hall Of Fame Career
Born in Bro, Sweden, the retired professional golfer—now 49—is viewed as one of the best in history. She started playing with her family at a golf club north of Stockholm, joined the Swedish National Team in 1987, and moved to the U.S. to play college golf at the University of Arizona. And so began Sörenstam’s impressive career. Before leaving the sport, she had won 90 international tournaments—cementing her position as the female golfer with the most wins. Her LPGA earnings exceeded $22 million over 16 years, exceeding those of her nearest rival by millions.
Sörenstam won 72 official LPGA tournaments during her career, complete with 10 majors and 18 other international golf tournaments. We could continue our list of her accomplishments, but we wouldn’t be anywhere near finished. She won eight Player of the Year awards—an unprecedented amount—and six Vare Trophies, which are given to the LPGA player with the lowest scoring average.
Sörenstam, in fact, is the only woman to shoot a 59 in competition (resulting in the nickname “Ms. 59”). To this day, she holds the lowest scoring average in a single season, breaking her own record in 2004. Named the Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year from 2003-2005, and the Golf Writers Association of America Female Athlete of the Year in 1995, 1997, and again in 2000-2005, Sörenstam—or Annika, as she is known in the golf community—realized a career for the books.
Yet, she’s done so much more than succeed as a female in golf. Growing up with her parents Tom and Gunilla’s support, and
To this day, she holds the lowest scoring average in a single season, breaking her own record in 2004.
that of her sister Charlotta, Sörenstam remains close with her family. She’s cultivated a family of her own and pivoted in a way that most would call inspirational. Because today Sörenstam’s focus is on giving back: on leveraging her success to pave the way for other women in golf.
From Golf To Success In Business
Leaving golf behind wasn’t easy for Sörenstam. The first woman to play in a PGA TOUR event since Babe Didrikson Zaharias in 1945, she hit one milestone after another—beating men, becoming the highest-ranking woman on ESPN’s Dominant 20 list, and so much more. “My motivation was gone,” she told the Women’s Golf Journal of her retirement. “I didn’t want to do it anymore. I had achieved everything I wanted, had done it for so long, pushed myself so hard. I realized it’s okay…I was fulfilled, I was complete.”
And so Sörenstam planned her exit. A year later, she married her husband, then golf sports agent Mike McGee, with whom she lives in Orlando, Florida. The pair have two children and spend their days running Sörenstam’s business empire; the ANNIKA brand has been featured in outlets such as The New York Times,“I had achieved everything I wanted”
Fortune Magazine, USA Today, and in Duane Knapp’s book Brand Strategy, Inc. This, if anything, reinforces the fact that Sörenstam has paved the way for women everywhere—not only in golf or the realm of professional sports, but in business
Life after golf and The Annika Foundation
Sörenstam’s ANNIKA Foundation, which she launched near the end of her golf career in 2007, supports women’s golf at an international level.
To ensure the sport is accessible to players from all backgrounds, four of the six events bearing Sörenstam’s name are held outside the United States: The ANNIKA Invitational Latin America is held in Argentina, her native Sweden hosts the European tournament, and the Asian event is at Mission Hills in Dongguan, China. The ANNIKA Invitational Australasia, meanwhile, takes place in New Zealand. These tournaments mean a great deal to the girls and women who play. They have completely transformed women’s golf, providing a welcoming yet competitive environment to female golfers from across the globe.
In fact, the foundation’s 2018 annual report revealed that 550 female golfers from more than 60 countries participated
in at least one ANNIKA event in the last season. From there, more than 600 ANNIKA players have competed at the collegiate level, and 45 have earned LPGA tour cards in their own right. Moving forward, Sörenstam will continue to celebrate these women. Since 2014, she has presented the ANNIKA Award to the most outstanding female collegiate player, shedding light on the women’s game in new and innovative ways.