8 golf greats on the game’s lessons learned, advice and more
Top right, clockwise: Koury Angelo, Bradley Meinz, Chris McEniry, Courtesy Srixon
We asked eight current stars or legends to share how golf has enriched their lives. (Don’t worry, there’s enlightenment here for you, too.)
Rachel Heck, 20
(2021 NCAA INDIVIDUAL CHAMPION; SIX COLLEGIATE WINS IN 2021)
What’s the greatest lesson you’ve learned through golf?
“It’s a game of integrity, a game of sportsmanship. It’s about respecting your competitors and respecting the course. Taking that integrity into every aspect of life is really important. It’s the one thing that people can’t take from you. I’m grateful that golf has taught me that.”
Lexi Thompson, 27
(2014 ANA INSPIRATION CHAMPION; 14 WORLDWIDE WINS)
What motivates you to work as hard as you do?
“I’ve always been like that. Growing up with two older brothers, always just trying to be better, on and off the golf course. … But it takes a lot of hard work and patience. Golf is a crazy game, and you can never perfect it. That’s why I think we’re all crazy for playing it. But it keeps me coming back out.”
Inbee Park, 33
(SEVEN-TIME MAJOR CHAMPION; 34 WORLDWIDE WINS)
What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?
“I used to get way too frustrated when things weren’t going well, and I put so much pressure on myself. I would tell myself, ‘You’re going to be successful and a really good player, so just relax and don’t stress too much.’ If only I knew that back then! The game is still in my life today. It’s still my daily passion. What I love about golf now, which is different from when I was playing on tour, is that I play with a lot of joy. I’m more relaxed. I just go out and play.”
Lorena Ochoa, 40
(WORLD GOLF HALL OF FAMER, 2017; 30 WORLDWIDE WINS)
You retired at the remarkably young age of 28. What does golf mean to you now?
“The game is still in my life today. It’s still my daily passion. What I love about golf now, which is different from when I was playing on tour, is that I play with a lot of joy. I’m more relaxed. I just go out and play with friends and my family. I still feel the joy and happiness and even peace on the golf course.”
Juli Inkster, 61
(WORLD GOLF HALL OF FAMER, 2000; 46 WORLDWIDE WINS)
Looking back on it, what are your feelings about golf and your place in it?
“I love the game. I love what it’s all about. I love the people that you meet along the way. It really has been a great ride to be able to do what I love to do and make a living doing it. I’ve learned that I am pretty tenacious, but I’ve always respected the game and played the game the way it should be played. The game has taught me to be humble, though.”
Annika Sorenstam, 51
(WORLD GOLF HALL OF FAMER, 2003; 99 WORLDWIDE WINS)
What’s the most enduring piece of advice you’ve ever received?
“I was practicing one day when I was probably 16, back in Sweden, and it started raining. I called my dad to pick me up. As we drove past the range to exit the club, he saw a bunch of kids still hitting balls in the rain. He told me, ‘You know, Annika, there are no shortcuts to success.’ Whether it is in golf or life, I have remembered those words, and they continue to inspire me to this day.”
Jan Stephenson, 70
(WORLD GOLF HALL OF FAMER, 2019; 27 WORLDWIDE WINS)
What does golf teach us?
“Golf is like life. Golf and life are so parallel. Golf is so complicated, but so is life. When you play golf, horrible things happen when they shouldn’t, and you learn how to handle it. How you handle negativity will help you in golf and life. I’ve always said that Nancy Lopez was a very gracious winner … but she also was a gracious loser, which is harder to do than anything.”
Susie Maxwell Berning, 80
(WORLD GOLF HALL OF FAMER, 2021; 13 WORLDWIDE WINS)
What has golf given to you?
“I’m happy, and golf has made me happy. The game has been my livelihood since I was 15 years old, and I’ve never met any golfer that I didn’t like. From the girls on tour to the country club members that I work with and teach — they are all nice people. I’ve just never met a golfer who’s not a nice person. The game teaches us etiquette, gamesmanship and how to be a good sport, and I see that in the golfers that I’ve been around.”