Sporting legend and one of the greatest golfers of all time, Annika Sorenstam shares her views about the new Golf and Health initiative, exclusively with Women & Golf.
The first International Congress on Golf and Health was held in London last week and Kim Wild, Women & Golf’s Chairman, had the privilege of interviewing ambassador Annika Sorenstam.
As an Ambassador for Golf & Health, how do you think we can make sure that the message that golf is good for your health is heard?
Annika: This initiative is looking at golf from a different angle – the health angle. The benefits from movement in golf, the walking, swinging, bending and the social aspect of golf that can influence your personal health, hasn’t really been touched on before. By explaining these benefits, we hope to persuade people of all ages to give golf a try – especially older people where it will improve balance and general fitness. There are no gender, age or skill restrictions.
Do you have regular fitness sessions in your programmes?
Annika: We organise seven girls’ tournaments around the world, with the tagline ‘More than golf’ where we include educational sessions during our workshops which highlight the health benefits of the game. However, the participants of these programmes are already young, fit and healthy so it’s the older generation we’re hoping to attract and get talking about it.
Do you think awareness of the health benefits of golf is only an issue in mainland Europe?
Annika: No. Not at all. This project is providing more evidence-based information which, with the help of The R&A, the World Golf Organisation and the game’s governing bodies, can start to be disseminated down to clubs and local communities around the world.
Do you think the initiative will encourage more women to play golf?
Annika: I hope so. But it’s whole communities we’re looking to engage with. Golf is now in the Olympics, so the game’s profile has risen and golf clubs need to embrace the challenge too. They need to be more family friendly, there needs to be more par-3 courses, older people should be welcomed to the clubs to learn to putt and chip and, in some cases, help fill a void for people who have lost their partners. So social health is improved.
On a general note, will you be attending the Solheim Cup next year at Gleneagles?
Annika: I don’t know. I don’t have an official role, but it’ll be another fantastic occasion I’m sure.
Has Catriona Matthew contacted you for any tips about captaining the team?
Annika: Catriona is a good friend of mine and I enjoyed working with her as Vice Captain at Des Moines. We’ve spoken a few times about my experiences of being Captain and Vice Captain, which hopefully will help her.