Annika Sorenstam has spoken of the challenges she has faced when dipping her toes into the male-dominated world of golf course design.
The ten-time major champion, one of the most successful players in the history of the women’s game, has designed nine courses in different parts of the globe to date but says she is often overlooked for projects due to a generalisation that her courses will be ‘short and easy’.
“It's been tougher than I thought,” Sorenstam told CNN Living Golf's Shane O'Donoghue about her venture into course design. “Being a female, when they throw my name in the ring as a designer candidate a lot of times they say, ‘Oh, well then this course will be short and easy’.
“I don't know where it comes from. I think they just have that predetermined notion of women designing shorter courses, and that's not really what comes to my mind.
“I consider myself, of course a female, but I'm also a golfer and I feel like I can play any golf course out there and I guess maybe my defensive mechanism is, 'Hey, I'd play you anywhere, anytime and then we can go from there’.”
However, a look at a couple of Sorenstam’s courses – Mission Hills in Shenzhen, China, at 6,703 yards and Euphoria in South Africa stretching to more than 7,000 yards – would say that they’re anything but ‘short and easy’.
Instead, Sorenstam’s primary goal is to design courses that golfers of any age, gender, or skill level can enjoy equally, with a variety of tees and generous landing areas to give each individual the opportunity to be challenged based on their skill level.
“I think for a long time people just wanted championship courses, and to me I think that's short sighted. We're going to run out of land eventually. You can't build courses that are 7,600 or 7,800 yards, this is not going to work, we have to find alternative ways to make this game fun.
“I think the game is too hard and it turns people away. It shouldn't really be a gender question.”