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A Lesson from Anika Sorenstam

The Thrill of My Life

Posted: Oct 06, 2007

A thrill of a lifetime happened to me when I won the Annika Sorenstam "Share My Passion Sweepstakes" put out by Golf Digest Magazine. I had been working at Whispering Firs Golf Course at McChord Air Force Base and when I came home one August evening I found an e-mail from Holly Gill from Golf Digest Publications saying I was a winner of the Annika Sorenstam Share My Passion Sweepstakes. As it turned out there were eight winners nationally out of 10,000 entries with one grand prize winner who won an approximate $50,000 prize package. The rest of us won a Sorenstam Package to the Annika Academy. This package included three nights at the GINN Resort, three full days at the Anika Acadamy, a golf package with Cutter-Buck shirt, Callaway shoes, Oakley sunglasses, Callaway golf balls, as well custom fitting for Callaway clubs on their CPASS system, and most exciting of all ---nine holes of golf with Annika and an hour photo/autograph session with her. Also, we received instruction by both Annika and her sister, Charlotta Sorenstam.

Our first day started with breakfast at GINN Resort Clubhouse Restaurant. Their chefs are the best and during our stay the food was always excellent. After breakfast we were taken down to Annika's academy with our clubs. We arrived at 8:00 AM, walked up the stairs and opened the door to be greeted by Miss 59 herself, Annika Sorenstam. Once everyone was inside we were taken to the conference room for an orientation. This included a tour of the academy, which was first class all the way, and what we should expect in the three days. We were then split into Group A and Group B. Group A went to the driving range while Group B went to a 45 minute workout session with Kye Fusser who is Annika's workout trainer. The groups then switched.

We had lunch in the conference room catered by one of the GINN restaurant in bento boxes. It was a great gourmet meal. Am I raving again about the great chefs? Yes.

In the afternoon we went out with Charlotta for nine holes on the Tom Watson Independence course to practice some of the tips that we were shown on our first practice session earlier in the morning. Charlotta moved between Group A and B giving suggestions. For our homework we were given instructions to use shorter clubs on holes 6 and 7 and longer clubs on 8 and 9 on our approach shots.

Once we finished the nine holes we met back at the academy to discuss what we learned for the day. Finally, at 5 o'clock we were off to explore the area on our to meet back at the academy at 8:00 AM the next day.

We all looked forward to Day Two with great anticipation because this was the day we got the photograph/autograph session with Annika and would play nine holes with her.

The day started out pretty much the same as the day before with a workout or range session. Lunch was another gourmet feast at the academy. Then began an afternoon with Annika. Because the group was so hyped about the photograph session, everyone was snapping pictures like crazy right from the start. We all went to one of the hitting stalls and Annika took some time to tell us about herself and how she got into golf. She also shared about her golf swing and her eccentricities with them. During this half hour clinic we were also treated to her hitting balls and how her trajectory has changed over the years.

Everyone was then ready to go out to play nine holes. This time we were taken to the front nine of the Legacy Course designed by Arnold Palmer. Annika shared some facts about the front nine of the Palmer course as well as the back nine of the Tom Watson. One thing we learned was that these nines were the two nines used in the LPGA GINN Championship held at the GINN Resort.

Unfortunately, it turned out we were only able to play four holes because of the weather. We were met on the fourth hole by ESPN and were interviewed and video taped of us putting out on the green. Everyone made their putts and pared the hole in our group. We then headed back to the clubhouse just in time for the weather to hit.

The third and last day proved to be a better day. We got to sleep into around 9 o'clock. We met again at the academy. There was no workout. Had an opportunity to work on sand shots with Charlotta for about an hour. We then had lunch at the Eleven Restaurant at the resort.

After lunch we were bused over to the Nicklaus Tradition Course. Here we played 18 holes with Charlotta and Janet Dyer who is one of the Academy's instructors.

The guys played from the blue tees at 6,537 yards. Myself and the other low handicapper shot 79 and 78 respectively which made for a perfect ending to a perfect three days at the Annika Academy.

The best thing I can say is the Annika Academy gives the golfer the whole golf package - fitness, nutrition and golf. It would be well worth the money to go to Orlando and have a chance to play with a legend.

Annika and Charlotta are both friendly, congenial and yet all business when it comes to golf. Like I said -- it was a thrill of a lifetime.

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