PGA of America
Annika Sorenstam, PGA/LPGA, was inducted Tuesday night into the PGA of America Hall of Fame at the Palm Beach Convention Center in West Palm Beach, Florida.
An iconic figure in golf, so revered that she’s often just referred to as “ANNIKA,” Sorenstam was honored among a class that also featured: two-time United States Ryder Cup Team Captain and 1997 PGA Champion Davis Love III; LPGA Co-Founder Shirley Spork; PGA Past President Derek Sprague; and two posthumous inductees — inventor Karsten Solheim, namesake of the Solheim Cup; and 1981 Ryder Cup Captain and 1965 PGA Champion Dave Marr II.
Meanwhile, Barbara Nicklaus was presented the PGA of America Distinguished Service Award for her tireless charitable work through the game of golf.
For Annika, 49, the game has evolved well beyond her playing career. Of course, she’s known for her 90 wins worldwide, including 10 major championships among 72 titles on the LPGA Tour. Truly, one of the greatest players golf has ever known.
Since retiring from competition, her brand and reach have extended into several ventures, such as fashion, fragrance, golf course design and growing the game through her ANNIKA Foundation, where she continues to serve as an inspiration.
"This is very special. It warms my heart because it’s about what I have achieved both on and off the course,” said Annika, who also became a PGA Member in 2013. “It’s a huge honor just looking at the names, it’s a small group and an elite group.”
Last month, Annika partnered with the Southern Nevada Junior Golf Association to invite girls in the state ages 6-12 to write a letter to her explaining why they love golf and why other girls should learn how to play. She invited authors of the 40 most compelling notes to attend a “Share My Passion” clinic, where Annika served as the headline golf coach.
“It’s fun to give back and to pay it forward,” said Annika just prior to the induction ceremony. “I learn something from it and get a lot out of it.”
Before deciding to focus further on her family, she also had an impressive 10-year run as a visionary and entrepreneur for her former namesake golf academy, which provided expert coaching to some of the game’s greatest players, as well as its next generation. Annika would conduct clinics at the academy, to coach and inspire others.
The coaching torch is furthered by her sister, Charlotta Sorenstam, a former LPGA Tour player who made a name for herself by winning the individual 1993 NCAA Championship, while playing for the University of Texas — just like Annika did two years before as a freshman at the University of Arizona. Charlotta, a PGA Associate, is now the Director of Instruction for the Sorenstam Academy at Charlotte Harbor National Golf Club in North Port, Florida.
"Any Hall of Fame you get into, it’s voted on by your peers who look up to you, and it fits her well — especially if you look at the others also being inducted — I believe she’s very proud, and I’m proud too,” said Charlotta. "The emphasis of her passion for the game and her work ethic, she never sits still. It’s always go, go, go, and that impresses me. "
That is why the ANNIKA Foundation is also devoted to growing the game of golf worldwide. It annually hosts six girls-only invitational tournaments on five continents. At the college level, it hosts the ANNIKA Intercollegiate and annually bestows the ANNIKA Award to the most outstanding female Division I golfer. Since the inaugural Foundation tournament in 2009, a total of 45 ANNIKA event alumnae have earned LPGA cards, while 28 have competed in the 2019 ANA Inspiration.
Annika’s passion for growing golf globally is certainly paying dividends.
"I try to inspire a lot of young girls," she said. "We now have 60 that are playing on the LPGA Tour and a lot in college. The girls in college started at age 12 and now they’re 22. It’s neat to see where they are today."
"It’s in her nature to inspire others to work as hard and for them to try to get there,” added Charlotta. “Most of it is through her Foundation and the branches of her company, and what she has given back to the game, especially girl golfers, is amazing.”