Annika Sorenstam is totally in her comfort zone as an ambassador for a new project aiming to provide a comprehensive look at golf’s positive effects on health.
“I’ve always felt like golf and health should go hand in hand,” says Sorenstam.
The goal of the Golf & Health Project, sponsored by the World Golf Foundation, is to drive increased participation in golf, improve the sport’s public image and increase support for golf in politics, all through promoting its benefits to physical and mental health. Among its findings after reviewing thousands of research papers: Golfers live up to five years longer than nongolfers.
For Sorenstam, who won 72 LPGA tournaments—including 10 majors—over her professional career from 1992 to 2008, the biggest reason for involvement with the Golf & Health Project is generating awareness. “Obviously golf is a sport, but when you look at it from a well-being standpoint, it contributes on so many levels,” she says. “It’s muscular and cardiovascular, but it’s also being outside and being social. It also requires you to think.”
Sorenstam’s thoughts on staying in shape shifted as she progressed as a golfer. “Early in my career, it wasn’t so structured. I’d go run a little bit and hit the gym,” she recalls. When she got more serious about the game, around 2000, her routine become much more regimented. “I realized I needed to train like other athletes, to have a program and figure out where my weaknesses were.”