Golf writer Andy Reistetter is fortunate to have met many of the world's top professional golfers while on tour the last four years. Earlier this year at the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, he and a handful of other writers sat down with Annika Sorenstam to talk about her line of clothing with Cutter & Buck and her life beyond competitive golf. Come into the back room of Booth No. 5657 and meet Annika in the second article of Reistetter's exclusive "Meet Golfers the Write Way" series.
I have three distinct memories from meeting Annika that day in late January at the PGA Show.
The first is the rock star sort of atmosphere surrounding the interview. A packed Cutter & Buck booth, which was not small until you had hundreds of folks showing up, held the interview with one of the top headliners in golf today.
Getting in and out was difficult for me, let alone the pregnant celebrity mom with her 16-month-old daughter Ava (who delivered son William two months later).
Though the food and drink were good and plentiful, the show attendees were here to get a glimpse of Annika. How many other people do you know that are known simply and thoroughly by their first name?
My second recollection from those 30 minutes six months ago is how much there is to know about women's clothing. I know that sounds funny coming from a man, especially one with 25 years of manufacturing management experience.
In this case, technology, materials and design criteria raised to the 3rd power is a little mind-boggling to me, but for Annika, it’s a simple layup to the right yardage, an easy up-and-down or a tap-in birdie to shoot 59 or to win one of her 93 professional championships around the world.
Cutter & Buck has been in business for 20 years and has partnered with Annika for the last 10. At least now I know what a "skort" is, and thanks to Annika, I know that "it feels like wearing shorts" to a women but "looks like a skirt" to us men.
My third thought is that all we know of Annika is not all there is to know about Annika.
Since the 10-time Major champion stepped away from competitive golf at the end of the 2008 season, she may have been cloned to keep up with all the initiatives she has going on.
While we think of her first and foremost as a champion golfer, that is only the tip of the iceberg, or as they say in Sweden, "toppen av ett isberg."
Daughter, sister, wife, mother, entrepreneur, golf course designer, owner of the ANNIKA Academy, founder of the ANNIKA Foundation, and United States ambassador for the Make-A-Wish Foundation are roles Annika has filled without a lot of fanfare to the general public.
She is the ANNIKA brand and her statement is to "Share my Passion."
Her passions beyond family include promoting junior golf, improving the health of children, wine, and cooking to name a few.
For those of you who know me, I asked my fair share of questions during the interview session.
And for those of you who know me really well, my first question centered on a personal perspective and led into a question about my initiative "corporate leadership inspired by the game of golf."
My Christmas present to myself was fresh on my mind. I watched all Twelve Days at the Academy on Golf Channel to prepare myself and my game for the best year ever in 2011.
Annika's tip was the best of the season for me.
She visualizes a three-foot box around the ball and disciplines herself to do all the thinking, analyzing and decision-making outside the box. Once she crosses the line it is all about execution and performance. She is in the moment, confident and plays the game with vigor and determination.
On the golf course so far this year, this tip has definitely taken a few strokes off my game.
More importantly, her tip has a direct application to leadership and can become a key principle for successful dynamic companies.
One of the problems in corporate America today in the matrix organization is a plethora of ideas, plans and expectations to the extent that some if not most associates are frozen in an unproductive, going-through-the-motions state of mind resulting in subpar business performance.
To achieve successful outcomes, there must be a difference between ideas and plans in corporate life. Annika's golf tip demonstrates the power of its application.
Inspirational leaders clearly distinguish ideas from plans and designate the time and process of transforming ideas into plans. When done properly, the organization responds and naturally executes the plan in an efficient manner.
Have we not all experienced this government debt crisis gridlock right outside our office and down the hall in the conference room?
My question to Annika from my high stool:
"Annika: I think your tip is awesome and that it can be applied to leadership in Corporate America; do you do any leadership consulting?"
"No, I am not a consultant (but I do) run my business based on experience and my experience is golf, 16 years as a professional and I see a lot of similarities."
OK, this is a "Meet Golfers the WRITE way" article and not a "Corporate Leadership Inspired by the Game of Golf and Annika" article… though I think it could be a new ANNIKA brand!
Next question please…
"Your thoughts on your bid to design the golf course for the 2016 Olympics with Jack Nicklaus?"
The five-time course designer responded that "I have never worked with a player of Jack's caliber so I look forward to working with him and learning his approach."
Annika grew up playing golf with many types of golfers, including her mom, dad, and sister Charlotta. Her design philosophy is influenced by that experience.
"I have the (Olympic) championship in mind but also to leave behind a golf course that is playable by everyone."
Since the interview, a site called Riserva Uno in southwestern Rio de Janeiro has been selected and R&A Chief executive Peter Dawson said at the Open that a course designer decision would be made soon.
I am thinking that these two Hall of Famers would be a good selection and good for the game.
One final thought about meeting Annika is that she is exactly what you would expect her to be. That's not true of all celebrity athletes but in her case her public persona is the same as her personal persona. She is a real person and a natural leader.
What you see on Thursdays on Golf Channel's Morning Drive is the real thing. What you will see on her upcoming "Golf A La Carte" TV series will be the real thing.
A few other tidbits from the interview…
"I don't know a lot about (golf course) drainage but I surround myself with experts."
"When you play you don't want to be ironing (your clothes) the night before."
Her taste in women's clothing has evolved: "When I played (it was) what looks good holding a trophy. Now (it is) what looks good holding a diaper bag."
Annika is tenacious when it comes to the quality, service and promise of her Cutter & Buck clothing line. In golf she would "never guarantee a 68 everyday" but in business she can guarantee you will be a happy customer.
One final insight into Annika: she does not play much social golf these days, but if you happen to be paired up with her:
"I want every female golfer to wear my clothes and if they are not I want to know why."
There are 91 items in the Annika Collection.
Don't be surprised if Annika is a leadership consultant someday.
Make your decisions before getting into the box…
Andy Reistetter is a freelance golf writer as well as a Research and Broadcast Assistant for the major golf broadcast companies. He spends time on all four major American golf tours- the PGA TOUR, Champions, Nationwide and LPGA Tours.
Reistetter resides within two miles of the PGA TOUR headquarters and home of The PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach.
A lifetime golfer, Andy enjoys volunteering at the World Golf Hall of Fame and THE PLAYERS while pursuing his passion for the game of golf and everything associated with it. He can be reached through his website www.MrHickoryGolf.net or by e-mailing him at AndyReistetter@gmail.com