I must begin this post by saying unequivocally that I believe Annika Sorenstam is golf’s greatest woman player ever. She is also in my top 5 of the game’s best players, man or woman, of all time. I mean it, I stand by it and if I was brave enough to climb up on my roof I would shout it from there. No disrespect to Kathy or Mickey or Patty or Babe or Nancy or Karrie or Lorena, it’s just a fact. She was just named Captain of the 2017 European Solheim Cup team and no doubt she’ll be great at that too.
She is no doubt also a great Mom, a wonderful wife, a true friend and an amazing human being but what she is not very good at is live tournament broadcast television. I’m watching her right now on the Golf Channel’s coverage of the ANA Inspiration. I watched her last year too. She’s no better today than she was then and then she was, as they say in the business, ” a hard listen”.
Let me say it again I am a HUGE Annika Sorenstam fan. I loved following her, watching her and covering her when she played. I just don’t like listening to her on tv.
When we were fortunate enough to get a few minutes of her time, when our team provided the tv coverage of the LPGA, I remember how uncomfortable she always was being interviewed. She was both painfully shy and admirably reluctant to say anything remotely negative about a fellow player, the tour or a golf course. I felt she was careful not to say anything that could be considered controversial in part because she knew she was the standard bearer for an entire sport but more, I believed, because she honestly didn’t have anything controversial to say.
She was humble, soft spoken and many times because of that she was hard to understand without rewinding and replaying the tape a few times. The Swedish accent, which is still quite pronounced didn’t, and doesn’t help either. That’s okay if you’re transcribing a comment for a newspaper or magazine article but it all adds up to an over par round if you’re talking about live TV.
Another thing I think impedes her ability to get better is the fact that her booth mate is notorious for saying what we can see, stating the obvious. Annika would probably do that anyway because it’s in her comfort zone but hearing a seasoned professional announcer do it only serves to reinforce her belief that it’s not only okay but the proper thing to do. The culture around those parts these days is very pro talent. It’s frowned upon to criticize on air people. Too bad because if Annika really has designs on doing this in the future she could use some constructive criticism.
Do I need to remind you that I think Annika Sorenstam is a great player and a wonderful person. After this I hope she is still my friend. I used to write all the show openings for the golf channel’s LPGA coverage and I remember, on a couple of occasions, telling our host Grant Boone that he would have to come up with how we came on the air because I couldn’t bring myself to find the words to pen another “Annika is great” tease. She just doesn’t shine in an extended stint in the announce booth.
She is oddly robotic sounding, tends to repeat herself (I could go back to a year ago and find things she said then about players that are word for word what she said today), and is still quite guarded, extremely careful, not to come across as even remotely negative. About anything or anyone.
So by all means bring her in for an extended interview, have her stay for a couple of segments then thank her very much and let her go enjoy a cold beverage, sign autographs and be one of the game’s outstanding global ambassadors. That’s what she does best now. Two hours is an hour and 45 minutes too much. I am well aware that this is akin to sacrilege to women’s golf fans generally and Annika fans specifically. Few people would like her to be better than me but she’s got a long way to go.
By the way did I mention I think she’s the greatest?