Recenty Golf Tips sat down with LPGA Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam and her sister and fellow pro, Charlotta – who runs the Annika Academy outside Orlando, Florida – for some insight on how and what they teach and their philosophy on keeping one's game sharp.
1 Every player experiences roadblocks to improving their game and posting lower scores. How do you help get your students past that?
Annika: A lot of people get so focused on the score. You get nervous and start thinking ahead. You start to play mind games with yourself. They get ahead of themselves. The most important shot you'll ever hit is the shot you're hitting now. You can't replay the shot you hit an hour ago, and you certainly don't know what shot you'll hit an hour from now. Focus on this particular shot, instead of the results or the score. Focus on the process, what you're doing. You have a preshot routine, you enjoy that, then you add them up. A lot of people, once they break a number and go past it, you start calculating instead of visualizing that lower score – but don't think so much about results. Don't put down the score right away. Do it in the clubhouse.
2 What is most players' biggest fear?
Charlotta: I would say bunker shots. Women will always stay in the bunker, and men pop it over on the other side. Technique creates results, which in turn creates confidence. Just learning the basics, three or four things – hey, you don't actually need to hit the golf ball, and always swing through, never stop..
3 Do men and women learn the game differently?
Charlotta: Yes and no, if you draw the line over men and women. You can almost relate it to their occupation – the way their brains are wired, so to speak. That is as important. Look, he still works here, and I've had a male instructor [Henri Reis] all my life. A lot of people say, 'You're a female instructor, and I really want a female instructor's point of view.' It's different for each student, who they prefer to work with.
4 Sometimes the average player gets confused by what club to play in what situation. What's your best advice on pulling the right stick for the job?
Annika: Focus on your strengths. Play the club you like off the tee, not necessarily the driver. When you come around the green, if you don't feel comfortable with a lob wedge, maybe you can take a putter.
5 What's the best way for your students, or any golfer, to practice at home?
Annika: You take a lesson for an hour, or for the three days you're here, but you've got to take something home, share it with your pro at home. Work together, and sometimes you get a second opinion. Things can get mis-interpreted. It does take 20 days or so for muscle memory to kick in. There are some things you can do on the range as a constant reminder.
Charlotta: We do a little bit of 'old school' instruction – we have students write things down when they're here. It's in their own words so it's not misinterpreted when they go home. And a lot of students of all ages draw pictures. It's really neat. We like that part of the experience.