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My chat with a champion: Long after her competitive days, Annika continues to strongly influence the game

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There are a handful of golf legends that go by only one name; Tiger, Jack, Arnie and the queen of golf, Annika.

Annika Sorenstam continues to be a major influence on the game long after her retirement from competitive golf. Right by her side, every step of the way, is her husband Mike McGee, who has golf blood flowing strongly through his veins as well. I have had the privilege of getting to know Annika and Mike a bit over the past ten years. It has long been my opinion that this family is one of the games most generous and genuine. The work that they do through the Annika Foundation is playing a major role in the growth we have seen within the women’s game over recent years.

I had the great honor to chat a bit with Annika and Mike recently. As you will see, they absolutely have their fingers on the pulse of the industry and continue to work hard everyday to make golf better then they found it.

When did you start playing the game and who had the biggest influence on you getting started?

Annika: I started to play golf at the age of 12. I split a set of clubs with my sister, Charlotta. I got the odd numbers and she got the evens. My parents were my biggest influence in starting to golf as they played a lot. We would go to the course with them and ride their pull carts like a horse and get ice cream at the turn. Fun memories.

At what point did you know that you had what it took to play at a high level?

Annika: My first love was tennis, but when I was 16, I decided to focus on golf. I played on the Swedish National Team and won the World Amateur Championship in 1988. That’s when I realized I could play at a high level.

How early in your development did you first start getting formal instruction?

Annika: I started getting formal instruction early on. I would say between the ages of 12 and 14.

Was golf something that was part of your childhood? If so, when did you start and who was your influencer?

Mike: Yes, my Dad, Jerry McGee played the PGA TOUR until I was eight in 1982. He won four times and played in the 1977 Ryder Cup. I traveled the TOUR as a kid, so golf was literally a part of my upbringing.

What are your thoughts on current youth player development programs such as Drive, Chip & Putt and PGA Jr. League?

Annika & Mike: Mike and I both love what the PGA has done with PGA Jr. League. In fact, our kids play to play this year for Old Greenwood in Tahoe. We also love what Augusta National has done with Drive, Chip and Putt. It is a fantastic initiative and really motivates kids to try and make it to the Finals and putt on the 18th green at Augusta National.

Since your retirement from playing, you have been involved in several business endeavors. In recent years a great deal of attention has been put into the development of your Foundation and specifically, your Invitational, Intercollegiate and Annika Cup events. Can you expand on your passion for helping bring opportunities like these to young female golfers worldwide?

Annika: We started the ANNIKA Foundation in 2007 as a way for me to give back to the game that has been so good to me, and now have seven global events that sees over 600 players come through per year from over 60 countries. Over 45 have gotten LPGA cards and we have dozens of college coaches come to recruit the junior girls. We have what we call “More than Golf” educational seminars at each event to prepare girls for the future. I also give a clinic at each event and share my experiences to hopefully improve their preparation. It gives me great pride to help inspire the next generation.

I see that the McGee kiddos did some Drive, Chip and Putt qualifying and did fairly well…what is the kid’s connection to the game at this point in their lives? Any prospects for either to play competitively?

Annika & Mike: Our kids have been fortunate to attend the Drive, Chip and Putt finals the past two years. I can say that it really inspired them to take the game more seriously. They both have talent and I would say Will is more serious about it at this point. They’ll try DC&P again this year. Mike and I just want them to have fun with it. Golf teaches you so many valuable life lessons so the fact that they want to play makes us happy.

Professionally, what is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

Annika: I would say being inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. That encompasses all of the accomplishments that mean the most….89 worldwide wins, shooting 59, playing against the men. I have achieved more than I ever thought possible and I take great pride in always showing good sportsmanship.

How often do you get out to play or practice? Not for a clinic, or an event, but just for you?

Annika: I practice a little before events. I still play some sponsor outings or TV matches, so I don’t want to embarrass myself. I would say I practice once or twice a month.

What are your thoughts on the current state of the game? Where are we winning and where do we need some work?

Annika & Mike: The game of golf is in a great place on the professional Tours. I love the global nature and the young superstars. Family friendly is the key. I think we have a lot of great initiatives to grow the game, we just need to keep working at it. We need to make it fun, take less time and be more accessible for anyone who wants to play. I don’t think golf is much more expensive than other sports. Competitive skiing and soccer are equally as expensive if not more. We really just need to all work together to make it fun.

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Brendon is a PGA Golf Professional in Central Florida. He is the passion behind Little Linksters, LLC, the Little Linksters Association for Junior Golf Development (501c3) and the Little Linksters Golf Academy, now at Wekiva Golf Club in Longwood, FL. Born and raised in the small upstate New York town of Norwich, Brendon is the oldest of three and turned 43 in May of 2018. He is married to his wife of almost 19 years, Melisa and they are the parents to a beautiful daughter who was born in March of 2005 and a son who was born in August 2009. He began his golfing life when he was about 12 years old at the Riverbend Golf Club in New Berlin, N.Y. After a few years at Riverbend his father joined the Canasawacta Country Club in their hometown of Norwich, N.Y and Brendon began playing golf as much as he possibly could. He joined the boy’s varsity golf team at Norwich High School his freshman year and played all four years during high school, however, a broken hip and foot injury sidelined him for a bulk of that time. He returned to full strength his Senior year and played anywhere from the 4th to 1st spot on the very strong team. He finished 10th in the Conference Championship, shooting an 80 on a cold and blustery late fall day. When he was 15, Brendon started working in the proshop at the Canasawacta Country Club. It was his first job and it was the start of his life in the golf business. After his high school graduation, Brendon attended the State University of New York @ Delhi and majored in Golf Course Operations. While at Delhi he was a member of the men’s golf team. Upon graduation from SUNY Delhi, he moved to the central Florida area to officially begin his career in the golf business. Brendon has been working in the golf business for twenty-five plus years and is considered by his peers in the industry as one of the true leaders in the junior golf and growth of the game arena. After a successful run of 13 years at the Winter Park Country Club, the last 5 of those years as the GM & Head Professional, Brendon turned his attention toward growing the game of golf for kids of all ages but with a focus on children ages 3 to 10 years old. Brendon founded the Little Linksters Golf Academy at Metrowest Golf Club in August of 2011. The Academy later moved to Wekiva Golf Club in January of 2014. Elliott now serves in an ownership and manager role with the Academy while he works on other projects including his 501c3 nonprofit, The Little Linksters Association for Junior Golf Development. In January of 2013, Elliott became a PGA Staff Professional at the Golf Academy of America in Apopka, FL. In December 2018, after 44 years in business, the Golf Academy of America closed its doors for good. Elliott is the 2017 PGA National Youth Player Development Award winner. He is also a 2010, 2011 & 2012 US Kids Golf Top 50 Kids Teacher, a 2013 US Kids Golf Master Kids Teacher, a 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 & 2016 Top 50 Growth of the Game Instructor as named by the Golf Range Association of America, a 2017 & 2018 Elite Status Top 50 Growth of the Game Instructor as named by the GRAA, the 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 ECC Junior Golf Leader, the 2013, 2014 & 2017 ECC Horton Smith award winner, and the 2011, 2012, 2013 & 2014 NFPGA Junior Golf Leader award winner. He was a finalist for the PGA’s National Junior Leader award in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 before winning the prestigious award in 2017. In January 2014, Little Linksters was named the 2013 ING (International Network of Golf) Player Development Award winner. Elliott has appeared in or been a contributor for numerous golf media articles with publications such as Golf Business Magazine and PGA Magazine as well as PGA.com and PGAMagazine.com. His contributions have included topics ranging from Social Media to Junior Golf. Elliott was a guest on the Golf Channels Morning Drive in April of 2013 along with Dottie Pepper and Alan Wronowski. The threesome spoke on many different junior golf initiatives that are available to children of all ages. Elliott also appeared on Morning Drive in October of 2016 as part of Junior Golf Week as well as in October of 2017 and January of 2018. Elliott is a sought-out speaker on Junior Golf with a focus on children ages 8 and under. He spoke at the 2012 Proponent Group Annual Conference in October of 2012 which was held at Cog Hill Golf Club near Chicago. The event was held in conjunction with the 2012 Ryder Cup. Elliott spoke at the 2013 Southeastern Junior Golf Summit at Druid Hills Golf Club in Atlanta on November 4, 2013. He was also a presenter at the 2014 PGA Youth & Family Golf Summit held during the week of the 2014 PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, FL and Little Linksters G.O.A.L.S. program was featured at the 2016 PGA Youth & Family Golf Summit, also in Orlando. Elliott served in the role of Secretary, Vice President, President and the Honorary President of the East Central Chapter of the NFPGA Section from 2009-2016. He was also a NFPGA Section Board member from 2009-2015. He has also served as Chairman of the ECC Junior Golf Committee as well as the Co-Chair of the NFPGA Junior Golf Committee. Brendon was also a member of the PGA of America’s 2012-2014 National Youth Player Development Committee and the 2010-2012 & 2012-2014 Public Relations & Communications Committee. He is currently a member of the 2018-2019 PGA National Awards Committee. With the closing of the GAA, Brendon will now focus his full time once again on the Little Linksters Golf Academy, Little Linksters, LLC and the Little Linksters Association for Junior Golf Development (501c3). Brendon is available for Private Coaching through his long-range coaching packages of 6, 9 or 12 months.

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Geoffrey Holland

    May 12, 2019 at 12:27 am

    When the author’s bio is longer than the actual article, you know that the author has a giganticly ridiculous ego.

  2. Dave r

    May 8, 2019 at 10:24 am

    Yes great article, lovely person it’s what’s golf should be about giving back .

  3. dj

    May 7, 2019 at 6:50 pm

    Nice article.. I’ve always liked her and her approach to the game.

    Looks like you are job hunting…Nice resume’

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Opinion & Analysis

5 most common golf injuries (and how to deal with them)

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You might not think about golf as a physically intensive game, but that doesn’t change the fact it is still a sport. And as with every sport, there’s a possibility you’ll sustain an injury while playing golf. Here’s a list of the five most common injuries you might sustain when playing the game, along with tips on how to deal with them in the best way possible so you heal quickly.

Sunburn

While not directly an injury, it’s paramount to talk about sunburns when talking about golf. A typical golf game is played outside in the open field, and it lasts for around four hours. This makes it extremely likely you’ll get sunburnt, especially if your skin is susceptible to it.

That’s why you should be quite careful when you play golf

Apply sunscreen every hour – since you’re moving around quite a lot on a golf course, sunscreen won’t last as long as it normally does.

Wear a golf hat – aside from making you look like a professional, the hat will provide additional protection for your face.

If you’re extra sensitive to the sun, you should check the weather and plan games when the weather is overcast.

Rotator Cuff Injury

A rotator cuff is a group of four muscles that surround the shoulder joint. This group are the main muscles responsible for swing movements in your arms. It’s no surprise then that in golf, where the main activity consists of swinging your arms, there’s a real chance this muscle group might sustain an injury.

To avoid injuries to this group, it’s imperative you practice the correct form of swinging the club. Before playing, you should also consider some stretching.

If you get an injury, however, you can recover faster by following RICE:

Rest: resting is extremely important for recovery. After an injury, the muscles are extremely vulnerable to further injury, and that’s why you should immediately stop playing and try to get some rest.

Ice: applying ice to the injured area during the first day or two can help. It reduces inflammation and relaxes the muscles.

Compress: bandage the rotator cuff group muscle and compress the muscles. This speeds up the muscle healing process.

Elevate: elevate the muscles above your heart to help achieve better circulation of blood and minimize fluids from gathering.

Wrist Injuries

Wrist tendons can sustain injuries when playing golf. Especially if you enjoy playing with a heavy club, it can put some strain on the wrist and cause wrist tendonitis, which is characterized by inflammation and irritation.

You should start by putting your wrist in a splint or a cast – it is necessary to immobilize your wrist to facilitate healing.

Anti-inflammatory medicine can relieve some of the pain and swelling you’ll have to deal with during the healing process. While it might not help your wrist heal much quicker, it’ll increase your comfort.

A professional hand therapist knows about the complexities of the wrist and the hand and can help you heal quicker by inspecting and treating your hands.

Back Pain

A golf game is long, sometimes taking up to 6 hours. This long a period of standing upright, walking, swinging clubs, etc. can put stress on your back, especially in people who aren’t used to a lot of physical activities:

If you feel like you’re not up for it, you should take a break mid-game and then continue after a decent rest. A golf game doesn’t have any particular time constraints, so it should be simple to agree to a short break.

If you don’t, consider renting a golf cart, it makes movement much easier. If that’s not possible, you can always buy a pushcart, which you can easily store all the equipment in. Take a look at golf push cart reviews to know which of them best suits your needs.

Better posture – a good posture distributes physical strain throughout your body and not only on your back, which means a good posture will prevent back pain and help you deal with it better during a game.

Golfer’s Elbow

Medically known as medial epicondylitis, golfer’s elbow occurs due to strain on the tendons connecting the elbow and forearm. It can also occur if you overuse and over-exhaust the muscles in your forearm that allow you to grip and rotate your arm:

A nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug is the way to go to alleviate the most severe symptoms of the injury at the beginning.

Lift the club properly, and if you think there’s a mismatch between your wrist and the weight of the club, you should get a lighter one.

Learn when you’ve reached your limit. Don’t overexert yourself – when you know your elbow is starting to cause you problems, take a short break!

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TG2: Our PGA picks were spot on…and Rob hit a school bus with a golf ball

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Rob picked Brooks to win the PGA and hit the nail on the head, while Knudson’s DJ pick was pretty close. Rob hit a school bus with a golf ball and we talk about some new clubs that are going to be tested in the next couple days.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

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The Gear Dive: Vokey Wedge expert Aaron Dill

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In this episode of The Gear Dive, Johnny chats with Titleist Tour Rep Aaron Dill on working under Bob Vokey, How he got the gig and working with names like JT, Jordan and Brooks.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

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