While her sister is a 10-time major champion and a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, Charlotta Sorenstam’s CV is nothing to be sniffed at.
An amateur and professional career that spanned three decades yielded a handful of wins and top-25 finishes at major championships, as well as a Solheim Cup appearance in 1998.
From 2007 until its closure, Charlotta was director of the Annika Academy golf school at the luxurious Reunion Resort on the outskirts of Orlando, which is where Lady Golfer editor Alex Perry went to meet her…
With the Academy now closed, what are you up?
I still teach – but I’m the boss, the booker, the promoter and the manager now. It’s not as busy as when the Academy was open, it’s not an 8am to 5 or 6pm, six days a week. I set my own schedule. Luckily I can stay here at Reunion because I’ve been here for 10 years now. Sometimes I travel to students who have a hard time getting away or want me to visit their home town or club.
I’m also starting a new venture with a couple of guys, doing consultant work for indoor simulators for businesses or bars and also homes.
What does a normal week look like for you?
I teach a lot of kids that go to school so therefore are only available in the afternoon, which means I get my mornings to myself. It’s great because it means I can have a consistent workout schedule. I’ve always worked out but now I feel like I can take it to the next level. It’s one of my hobbies and it feels good to take good care of me, instead of going to work and grinding. I didn’t have a lot of time to myself in the last nine years.
Are you playing much golf?
I do, but mostly I go out to practise, just playing nine holes rather than 18. It’s a resort course here so it can take five or six hours to play a round. I like to do things at my own pace, so I sneak out for a few holes here and there. On Fridays we go out and play skins games. It’s great to play with other pros, male and female, which is fun – I make lots of birdies!
Speaking of which, is there scope for a mixed-gender tournament on tour?
I don’t think so – not at the top level. But on the teaching side, the PGA does that. They allow the female players to play a shorter course but they play in the same tournament. Physically we don’t hit it as far as the men – of course there are exceptions, but not as far as the furthest men.
It’s just a different ability but when the balls flying in the air, you can’t tell if it’s a man or a woman who has hit it. I don’t think we should have the biggest tours split – but a tournament here and there would be a fun event for not only players but spectators also. There used to be a tournament called the JC Penney where we paired with the men and played a team event. I always looked forward to that because it was so much fun to see a different side of the game and learn from them and share my own experience with them
Looking back on your career, what’s your fondest memory?
Of course winning on the LPGA Tour. There are a lot of good players on tour that don’t have a win, so to actually take that next step and get over the line. I only did it twice as a professional, it’s not an easy thing to do.
Also being part of the Solheim Cup team. We, as golfers, always play for ourselves so playing for a team, playing for more than just yourself, was a different kind of pressure and I really enjoyed it.
Both happened in my first couple of years out in the US so that was pretty special.
What does the next five years hold for you?
I love teaching so I want to continue to do that. I must say I don’t get people who do it nine hours a day, six days a week – it requires a lot of patience and repetition. But it’s very satisfactory too because there are so many players and students I’ve had who said to me, “I can never hit this club, or this shot.” That’s very rewarding when you hear that from a student because the little thing you do helps them so much.
I’m also hoping to grow my consultancy venture and go into consulting players about how to be a pro, what to do, how to prepare for after life on and after tour. There’s a lot of things you can do while playing to prepare for your next step in life – a lot of players don’t do that.
Do you get the chance to go back to Sweden at all?
Not a lot but I do go once a year, mainly for a tournament. I try to play a handful of tournaments every year and this one is special – it’s the Swedish Club Championship and I’m the playing captain of our team. Both the men and ladies have won from our club and it’s great to see the young men and women from my club doing so well. Some of them are now pros or off to college.
What piece of advice would you give to someone leaving Europe for the US?
If you’ve got the opportunity, go. You’ll never get that opportunity again. You should always try it once. You might love it, you might not, but at least you tried. The team aspect of it will help when it comes to practice, and the coaching you can get, and the amount of events you can play. Most of the coaches try to coach players as people, to grow as humans. Hopefully they’ll be ready for the next level, whether it’s golf or not. The person who doesn’t go, they’re missing out. I have a couple of friends who I went to college with and we’re still friends. They not only helped me with my game but with my personal life as well.
Best and worst about moving so far from home?
Being all alone while still so young is both the best and worst thing. It can be a great thing to start on your own and learn how to take care of yourself even though you get the support in the background, so to speak. It’s a great opportunity if you have it and you should take it.
Your sister is the captain for this year’s Solheim Cup. What was your reaction to her getting the job?
I was surprised she took the job because she’s got so many other things on – but she loves to stay busy and she loves a challenge.
Have you been asked if you’ll be a vice-captain?
I haven’t… yet. [Laughs]
If not, will you be there?
The plan is to be there with our mum and dad.
Would you ever want to be captain yourself?
It’s a big role to take on. Of course I would love to be Solheim Cup captain but there are plenty of other players and non-players who are far more qualified than me.
Just being part of that whole Solheim family, so to speak, is so neat. It’s a great event and it’s growing every year, just like the Ryder Cup, even though you’re not playing for a single penny.
If you could only play one course for the rest of your life, what would it be?
That’s a tough one – there are so many good courses. I’m going to say Lake Nona.
What is your favourite country to play golf in?
I have to say Sweden. I liked playing in Sweden – mainly because the food is so good. Right now what I’m missing the most is the Swedish food.