In celebration of American Father’s Day, Global Golf Post Plus will, between now and June 20th, share a collection of stories on how the bond between fathers and their children is strengthened through the game. Today, Annika Sörenstam writes of her father, Tom Sörenstam.
Like many people, my Dad wears lots of different hats. He has been a businessman, golfer, bridge player, friend, father and husband. As time goes on, the hats have changed, of course. For example, in recent years he has added proud grandpa.
However, there’s one hat that has never changed: him being a role model. I look up to my Dad today as much as I did when I was a little girl. He has always done and said the right thing. Seeing him set this kind of example gave me a sense of confidence I rely on to this day.
When I think about my Dad, I see a strong, confident and very loyal man. These are traits that I admire and strive to embody myself and instill in my kids. He is also a gentleman with a sense of humor who makes others smile and always leaves a good impression. His sense of humor was instrumental in helping me discover the power of laughter.
He’s also been the family rock for as long as I can remember. To this day, he works hard and appreciates life. The strength and resilience he’s always possessed has given me a great appreciation for the value of endurance.
This trait served me well as I began to play and excel at sports. My Dad has always loved being active and has tried almost every sport that exists. I believe I got my interest in sports from both my parents, but if my memory serves me right, my Dad was still active in handball when I was young and my sister and I would go to his games and help. During halftime we would be out on the court throwing balls and having fun. Thanks to him, it’s memories like these that make me feel a great sense of warmth and contentment when I think about my childhood.
Along with handball, I was introduced to several other sports at an early age. At first, I liked soccer, tennis and skiing the best. These were all sports that my dad enjoyed, so we spent lots of quality time together. He would challenge me to reach different levels. I distinctly remember him saying that once I was better than him in tennis, he would stop smoking. As you can imagine, I practiced very hard to make that happen. And guess what? Being a man of honor, he kept his promise.
Golf didn’t become a love until later in my life, more when I reached my teens. When it did, I remember we’d spend the weekends at the club as a family, practicing or competing together. I have so many fond memories; they really were the foundation for my success. I would say, from his commitment to and belief in the importance of these family outings, my Dad taught me to be persistent.
But it wasn’t always smooth sailing, and every child sometimes needs to be put back on the right path. An impactful teaching moment came when I was practicing one day. It had started to rain, and I didn’t feel like being there, so I asked him to pick me up. Being the ever-dutiful father, he did. But as we drove past the range, we saw some other kids continuing to hit balls. At that moment, he turned to me and calmly said, “Annika, I just want you to know, there are no shortcuts to success.” I will never forget those wise words and I live by them to this very day.
As I have entered a new phase in my life as a mother, entrepreneur and philanthropist, I look back and have an even greater appreciation for how our early life experiences are so formative. It’s like the root system of a tree – for healthy limbs, colorful leaves and tasty fruit you need the right support, resources and lots of love! I am lucky to say that I am flourishing today thanks to my Dad. I guess you can say the apple didn’t fall far from the tree.
There is no doubt in my mind that without my parents’ support and love, I would not be where I am today. My Dad has always been an essential part of my world; he is the one who took my hand when I was little and needed guidance. He loves me unconditionally and, through his patience, helped me to learn from my mistakes.
There are not enough words for me to describe how important my Dad has been, and what a powerful influence he continues to be in my life.
On this Father’s Day, I’m so grateful to be able to say, “I love you, Daddy!”
Top: Annika, Tom and Charlotta Sörenstam. Photo: Courtesy Annika Sörenstam
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