Living Proof That A Person Can Be Great At Many Things Yet Not All That Good At Something Else

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?



About Keith Hirshland

My name is Keith Hirshland and I am a four decades television veteran who has spent time both in front of and behind the camera. During nearly forty years in broadcasting my path has crossed in front of, behind and alongside some of the best in the business... And some of the worst. Many of those people I count as friends while others wouldn't make the effort to spit on me if I was on fire. This television life started early watching my Mom and Dad found, fund and run a local affiliate TV station in Reno, Nevada. As a teenager approaching adulthood I worked for them, first as an on-air sports reporter/anchor and later as a director and producer. Jobs in the industry took me across the country and then to many places around the world. Sports is my passion and putting it on TV has been my business. Production credits include auto racing, baseball, basketball, bowling, college football, field hockey, soccer, volleyball and water polo but the majority of my time "in the chair" since 1990 has been invested in the game of golf with both ESPN and The Golf. Channel ( I was one of the first forty people hired by TGC in 1994 ). I am a fan and I watch TV sports as a fan but I also have hundreds of thousands of hours watching from inside a production truck. I think that makes me qualified to comment, my hope is you agree. I have written four books, Cover Me Boys, I'm Going In (Tales of the Tube from a Broadcast Brat), a memoir that is a tribute to my parents, the hard working, creative people who started ESPN2 and The Golf Channel and a look back at my life in television. Cover Me Boys was awarded the “Memoir of the Year” in 2017 by Book Talk Radio Club. In February of 2019 it was released anew by Beacon Publishing Group. My second book is a novel, Big Flies, and is a mystery that tells the story of a father and a son with four of the world's most notorious unsolved robberies as a backdrop. Big Flies was named “Solo Medalist” in the True Crime category by New Apple Awards. My third book, another mystery titled The Flower Girl Murder, was published in 2018. Book number four might be the most fun I ever had on a writing project. Murphy Murphy and the Case of Serious Crisis is a mystery, a love story, and an homage to good grammar. It is both the Book Talk Radio Club BOOK OF THE YEAR for 202 and a TopShelf Awards first prize winner in the mystery category. All four are available at Amazon. Book five is in the capable hands of the good people at Beacon Publishing Group and should be available soon. I look forward to sharing new thoughts about golf, golf television, sports in general and the broadcast industry with you. The views expressed here are mine and mine alone. They are not connected to nor endorsed by any other person, association, company or organization.
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3 Responses to Living Proof That A Person Can Be Great At Many Things Yet Not All That Good At Something Else

  1. C. Baker says:

    I enjoyed watching Annika when she appeared on Morning Drive. She seemed relaxed at the round table with the other morning hosts. She doesn’t seem to be on much anymore. I wonder if it is because of the insight you write about in your post?


    • Interesting insight Carol and you may be right. It is much easier to sit across the table from someone and have a relaxed conversation. As you know it is much more difficult to sound conversational and at ease when you’re talking to a camera, trying to watch golf and listening to instructions in your ear. The really good ones make it look easy


    • A million apologies. Don’t know why auto correct pushed out Carol!


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