|With Annika Sorenstam at LexusC4C ©Golf Girl Media|
If you've got a passion for golf... or even a passing interest in the game... you've almost certainly been inspired by Annika Sorenstam. Her outstanding career as a professional golfer, remarkable entrepreneurial achievements and tireless dedication to growing the game has established Sorenstam as a role model in the golf world and beyond.
Upon arriving at the Pebble Beach Club for the festive Champions for Charity welcome reception I quickly spotted the serene Swedish champion surrounded by enthusiastic fans requesting photos and autographs.
It was ultra-impressive to watch as Annika single-handedly attended to their clamorous requests with the same kind of grace and composure she always displayed on the golf course... under very different circumstances.
Later in the evening, as the spirited crowd was beginning to head back to Spanish Bay, I had the opportunity to talk to Annika, and asked her about her commitment to growing the game, whether she feels enough is being done to that end and whether she feels the commitment to open golf up to new players is real.
"Of course, more could be done," she admitted, but added that "what is encouraging is that efforts to get young people to focus on fitness are now being taken seriously at the highest levels, making it easier to get support for initiatives that empower children to get involved in activities like golf."
The ANNIKA Foundation hosts four global competitions for junior female golfers, including an American Junior Golf Association invitational featuring the top 72 junior girl players from around the world.
Knowing how instrumental Annika's own family was in her decision to pursue a career in golf I asked her if she felt that courses, particularly here in the US, did enough to promote the game to young families: "Growing up in Sweden, our club had regular "family days" where families were encouraged to play together and compete in various ways. This is the type of thing that can help take the game beyond the traditional core player and it's also a lot of fun. I'd like to see more of it."
Having once spent a year in Scandinavia myself, I was charmed by many of the area's traditions, and none more so than those that involved Christmas. At some point every December I find myself wistfully remembering the St. Lucia celebration, the carved wood and woven paper decorations and the spicy mulled wine called Glögg. I asked Annika if she longed for Sweden at this time of year and if she often went back to celebrate the season in her homeland. Her response wasn't overly sentimental: "Well my family is here now and I think as a family you make your own traditions. Our own holiday celebrations have elements that are both Swedish and American"
When I asked her what she and her family enjoyed most about the holidays however, she didn't hesitate, "It's got to be the food, right?" I had to agree.
The chance to spend some time with Annika Sorenstam, and other Lexus ambassadors, was another of the memorable experiences I had at the 1913 Lexus Champions for Charity. I'll be sharing more in upcoming days. In the meantime I leave you with a holiday recipe from Annika herself. You may want to make it part of your seasonal celebration.