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New Year Advice - Sneezes Come In Twos

Heading into the holiday season and embarking on a new year, here’s a reprint of an article that I wrote in 2004 – the insights from Annika still hold – whether or not you play golf. Take a moment to read at your leisure and, by all means, please enjoy the season…  Debbie


Here we are at the end of one year and the beginning of the next, a traditional time for introspection and contemplation. Have you started on your list of New Years resolutions? Have you made some time to reflect on some of the positive moments from the past year? Are you a goal setter - checking your accomplishments and making a list of desired achievements for the coming year along with a plan for execution? Or are you just glad to be along for the ride, enjoying the passage of time?

According to Annika Sorenstam, “some players don’t set goals – they just want to play. I need goals to know where I’m going.” She shared this with our small group at an informal gathering at Canyon Ranch in Arizona this past October.

Annika has a matter-of-fact, down-to-earth style, matched with a delightful sense of humor. The insights gleaned from the evening with Annika are especially meaningful now, as you look forward to and/or set benchmarks for the year ahead.

Interestingly, when Annika first hit the LPGA tour, she confessed that she didn’t think she was going to win a single tournament. And now she’s won well over 50 and has already been inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Christina Kim, a second-year star on the LPGA tour, tasted her first LPGA win this past September. She’s 20 years-old and is known as “The Ironwoman” since she rarely misses a tournament. Annika, on the other hand, has become more selective. She doesn’t want to live her current lifestyle the rest of her life. As a result, she played fewer LPGA events during the 2004 season than previously. She’s trying to never play more than three LPGA tournaments in a row. At this point in her career, she has learned the importance of balancing quantity versus quality and how that translates for her.

I specifically mention “translates” because I believe that you need to find your own definition of balance. What works for Annika won’t necessarily work for you. And this is true in other areas other than balance, too. For instance, have you ever watched Annika strike the ball? Have you noticed that she doesn’t look at the ball at the point of impact?

You’ve heard the golf-isms: “keep your head down” and “keep your eye on the ball.” During her golf swing, Annika defies these. She moves her head with her shoulders and back, prior to hitting the ball. Some call this her “signature head move.”

This “move” began many years ago when her instructor, Henry Rice, was trying to figureout a way to help Annika transfer her weight from her right to her left foot as she swung through the ball. He suggested she move her head before she hit the ball. It worked. Once she successfully transferred her weight, he told her to go back to the old way of moving her head. But her swing worked this way; she couldn’t imagine going back to something that didn’t work. Maybe it’s not the perfect ideal textbook stroke, but it is for Annika. So, the “signature head move” stuck.

What about risk and reward? Imagine that you’re just off the fairway on a par four. You’re faced with a special lie, a couple of tall, full trees blocking your approach shot to the green. Can you keep the ball low and thread it between them (if so, how did you ever miss the fairway to begin with?!) or can you hit the ball with enough loft to clear the trees and still reach the green in two? Is laying up even an option? How much do you have riding on the hole?

Annika likes to gamble every once in a while. Yet, never more than one risky shot per hole. At her level, she can recover from a bogey, but a double or triple bogey typically present too difficult a situation to overcome.

Back to the special lie. Is this one of those risky shots to take? Annika knows that her adrenaline gets flowing during a match. She can easily get caught up in the moment, which can affect her judgment. To achieve a level of objectivity, she uses one of her resources, her caddie. Annika asks Terry, her caddie, whether or not this is a shot that she can execute. Given that the answer is “yes,” she goes deeper. How many times out of 10 can she successfully make the shot? Should Terry respond with a number greater than 6, she goes for it. She assesses her resources and options to mitigate risk and achieve results.

To be successful, Annika considers it important to get feedback from someone who knows her game. This goes beyond advice from Terry during a round of golf. Even as a professional, Annika believes that she needs help, all the time. Every six to eight weeks, she works with her swing coach. He flies to wherever she might be to see her. She also works on the mental side of her game with separate coaches. Whether it’s a refresher course or new learning, continuing education is an important part of the mix for winning.

Like most of us, Annika does get nervous. Just last year, the world watched Annika experience a huge test of nerves when she teed off with the men at the PGA Colonial tournament in Fort Worth, Texas. She was so pumped up that she hit her first ball 10 yards further than she anticipated, and on a rain-soaked fairway to boot! She still remembers telling herself to breathe.

Being nervous is a part of the game. Referring to other competitors during a round, Annika says it helps to “remember that everyone else is nervous, too.” The challenge is to get our nerves under control. Annika relies on sticking to her routine and trusting in herself.

As for a goal setting process, Annika shared that she doesn’t sit down with pen and paper in hand to write down her annual goals. They come to her over a period of time. But she does believe in setting goals, lofty goals. In 2004 she set her sights on winning all four majors on the LPGA tour. She only won one. Not achieving her goal wasn’t such a bad thing. “I’m paid well for putting a small, white ball into a hole.” Winning a major is a tremendous achievement and definitely worth celebrating. Not trying or making her best effort would have been a different story. Rest assured, winning all four majors is on her list of goals for 2005.

Whether or not you write down your goals, here’s one more thought from Annika to consider, perhaps the most important: it is essential to love what you do. Annika will be the first to tell you that there are not any short cuts to success. You have to work hard, both mentally and physically. You can have several coaches and read lots of books. Yet ultimately, you are responsible for your accomplishments. No one is going to do it for you.

When you’re standing over the ball, ready to swing, and you hear someone sneeze, step away. You want to keep your mind clear and focused. If you make an indecisive swing, the ball could go anywhere. Since it’s your game and your swing, the results, favorable or unfavorable, are yours. They do not belong to the person who sneezed. So, move away from the ball and start your pre-shot routine over again. But, as Annika suggests, be polite and wait for the person to sneeze a second a time – they usually come in twos.

Make the most of the New Year. Follow through for success and Turn Golf into Gold. ™

Debbie Waitkus an author, speaker and business-golf consultant, is the President and Founder of Golf for Cause, LLC. She speaks to groups and stages creative golf programs, especially for women, to help them leverage golf for business at all skill levels.“Turn golf into gold.®” Debbie can be reached at 602.722.3605 or dwaitkus@golfforcause.com

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What’s in Your Golf Bag Pockets?

New golfers often feel overwhelmed when they begin to realize how seemingly much there is to learn – how to hold or grip the golf clubs, how to swing them, how far apart your feet should be, which club should you use for a given shot, and oh, by the way, what are all the zippered pockets on my golf bag for? 

Some of the pockets are intended to hold the important things that help you step confidently onto the golf course and look fabulous doing it. You might not be a terrific golfer (yet), but you want to look like one!

Pack your pockets right and you’ll be ready for anything. Say you set out from home on a beautiful summer day. The sun is high in the sky and its rays wrap you in warmth. But you know it won’t last, as the weather forecast calls for change later in the day. You have no worries, though, because in one of your golf bag’s larger, zippered pockets you packed a beautiful piece of outerwear.

Frankly I’m a fan of fun outerwear and Antigua offers a variety to fit all occasions. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • The Delta ¼ zip long-sleeve pullover with pockets. It has a self-collar and the accents along the sides are very slimming! Mine proved to be quite handy during the Golfweek Rater Challenge in Arizona. It snowed in Scottsdale!
  • The Adventure is a lightweight windbreaker. There’s definitely room in your golf bag for this piece and room for you to feel comfortable swinging a club while wearing the jacket. With a full zipper and the contrasting accents you’ll even look sharp! There’s a bungie toggle to gather the bottom of the jacket so that it fits you to a tee.
  • I can’t seem to keep the Serenity pullover in my golf bag. While playing golf with my daughter, I noticed her looking through the pockets in my golf bag. She found the Serenity, tried it on and then wouldn’t give it back! The raglan shoulders, ½ zip and spandex make it very easy to pull on and off, and it’s VERY comfortable.  With the geometric jacquard pattern and stylish seaming on the back, you’ll look great – and slender! I personally like the blue – one of those universal colors that everyone can wear.
  • The Divine Vest is not only classy, it’s reversible and waterproof! As a vest, you can swing freely and it has several pockets to hold everything you want with you on the course. With slendering lines, not surprisingly, my daughter “borrowed” the vest from my golf bag. I’m not holding my breath as I wait for her to return it!

Whichever style you choose, pullover, vest, full-zip windbreaker, you’ll have a stylish, functional piece of outerwear in your golf bag pockets and you’ll always be prepared – for weather and to look fabulous!

Cursor and antigua May 2016 Compatibility Mode

Debbie Waitkus is the President and Founder of Golf for Cause®, an innovative consultancy, fully committed to helping others Turn Golf into Gold® with a goal to provide services that encourage golf to be used as a strategic tool in business development. To learn more visit: http://www.golfforcause.com/. To schedule a Golf for Cause event (i.e. inspirational keynote speaker, clinic, and/or a Get Your Golf On! book signing) call 602. 840. 0607.

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Mentors Are Everywhere

Hall of Fame speaker Joel Weldon is my speech coach. He says we have not one, not two, not even three mentors but 10,000. It is his belief that mentor/protégé relationships aren’t all formal. We learn from everyone.
We learn — are mentored — watching others do things. Perhaps we notice something a good golfer does in her swing. Or the way someone deftly uses humor to advance a conversation. If you have small children, maybe you’ve seen another parent reprimand a child in manner that caused you to think I would NEVER do that! Mentors. Every one.
I expanded my cadre of mentors when I attended the 2016 LPGA Rolex Awards banquet at the PGA Merchandise Show in January. In fact, I’m sure every person in attendance gained new mentors. The speakers were authentic, inspiring and memorable.
Sara Doell, Seton Hall Women’s Head Golf Coach, was named the LPGA T&CP National Coach of the Year. One of the things she said that received lots of knowing nods from the crowd was, “How you react to your ball in a divot is revealing.” It happens to everyone, not often, but when it does it tests your composure and attitude even more than it challenges your skill swinging a club. Does it frustrate you, or do you take it in stride and make the best of an unfortunate circumstance?
Alison Curdt, 2015 LPGA National Teacher of the Year, used the motivational metaphor of an equilateral triangle to explain how you might picture your life, your drive, your contributions to society. “Take a look at your triangle, with its base on the bottom and the tip at the very top,” she said. “Inside the triangle, the bottom and middle are full. Yet there’s room at the top.” We all know we have room in our lives to do more, be more, reach higher and go farther. That was her point — strive to be in the top of the triangle. She gave credit for the metaphor to Dana Radar, who also received an award.
Dana received the 2015 Ellen Griffin Rolex Award, which the LPGA established in 1989 to honor Ellen Griffin, who is considered by many to be the best-known woman golf teacher in American history. Ellen taught near Greensboro, NC at a teaching facility called “The Farm,” which really was a farm. One evening when Dana was there back in the 1980s, Ellen called her to come quickly to the barn. A cow was giving birth. Dana was 20 and couldn’t imagine anything more gross than watching the birth of a calf.  But Ellen insisted. “It is important to see something being born. You must move forward from where you are.” (Upward in your triangle?) Dana also told the audience that it is important to have “the gift of gab.” Today we call it “networking.”
waitkus lopezLPGA great and member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, Nancy Lopez, told the story of going to the Glen Campbell Los Angeles Open with her father at her side. She was 15 and excited to see some of the players up close. Her father had been saving money so he could take Nancy to the tournament.
She was anxious to see one player in particular and imagined even being so lucky as to meet him. They positioned themselves perfectly to see the players as they came out. Suddenly there he was! She could hardly believe it. But just as he neared where they stood, a gentleman in front of Nancy asked the player for an autograph. “I don’t have time for this!” the player snapped.
To this day Nancy gives thanks to that player because, she says, he made her a better person. She vowed never to to be like him. That’s why, when you meet Nancy, you can count on a pleasant greeting, a smile, an autograph, even a joke.
Annika Sorenstam spoke earlier in the morning at the We Are the Women in Golf LPGA breakfast. She talked about the LPGA Leadership Academy, which provides programming for girls age 15 to 18, and is sponsored by the AKSA Foundation, believed to be the largest insurance company committed to women.
Fighting back tears Annika said, “I want to be a part of the LPGA Leadership Academy for my little girl. I want her to know that she can do it, do it big and do it hard.” She left the stage in tears, displaying a sensitivity that many have never seen.
After the weeklong conference, like many others, I left with countless new mentors.  Joel Weldon is right. Mentors are everywhere.
Learn something new every day and turn golf into gold®!
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Pack With Versatility

Carnoustie Compatibility Mode

Sporting my “perfect” polo out and about with Cori Matheson, LPGA USGA Girls Golf


As summer nears, my husband and I are planning our golf trips and are ready to start packing!

Two years ago, we enjoyed an amazing trip southwest Ireland. “Enjoyed” is quite the understatement—we’ve encouraged three more couples to join us for a repeat performance this June. As part of our preplanning, we gathered over lunch last weekend to review flight arrangements, golf courses, betting games, tourist attractions, songs to know, adult beverage preferences (Guinness vs Jamison) and, of course, wardrobe.

I turned to my girlfriend sitting next to me and said, “I have the perfect top to bring this time!”  My “perfect” shirt is the new stretch stripe polo from Carnoustie. Right from the package it was comfortable—great lines and not boxy, which we women experience with some clothing lines that specialize in menswear. Yet after washing the shirt, wow!—even softer and more comfortable. It sports a unique three-quarter length sleeve  and breathes well.  It’s lightweight and, with a bit of spandex, doesn’t wrinkle.

I admit to being the practical packer.  Clothing better not wrinkle—early morning tee times don’t accommodate pulling out the iron and ironing board in the hotel room. And, clothes should dry overnight after a quick wash so that I can wear them again.

Because we’re heading to Ireland, there’s a high probability of a raindrop or two. Living in the Arizona desert, I’m quite accustomed to layering—chilly mornings, warm days and the occasional cooler evenings. Layering with the intent to play golf in the rain is different. It adds the importance of not feeling constricted.  My “perfect” Carnoustie polo is designed for performance so there’s no constricted movement under an outer rain shell. Like I said, perfect for Ireland, perfect for anywhere.

Make your summer plans, check out Carnoustie and start packing!

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Ladies, Say ‘YES’ to Sports!

Debbie Waitkus &
Lyn St. James


It always is interesting to hear successful women talk about their career paths and “how it all began.” At last year’s YWCA Women’s Empowerment Event in Phoenix, AZ, a panel of five, fabulous women shared their stories and discussed how participating in sports was instrumental in their personal and professional growth and development. As you read about these women, think about a dramatic connection between success and involvement in sports that was recently uncovered:

Ernst & Young research shows that among senior businesswomen in the C-suite today, 94 percent played sports and over half played at a university level.

Lyn St. James — 7-time Indy 500 Driver

"I like to drive fast. My mother said, ‘Lyn, the gas pedal can get you out of more trouble than the brake.’” Although she wasn’t considered a great athlete at most of the traditional sports, she was exposed to them at school in Grade 7 and became a great athlete by using her brain. She acknowledges that without sports she wouldn’t have the enviable life she’s been living. The 1992 Rookie of the Year (in her 40s!) and survivor of many crashes, including fireballs, Lyn says that when you find your passion, you don’t see the obstacles others see. “It’s all about where you focus.”

Ann Meyers-Drysdale —VP Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury

Ann grew up with 5 brothers and 5 sisters. Her parents wanted them out of the house (imagine that!), so they went outside and played sports. Hers was a sports oriented family. Dad played ball at Marquette, and both parents believed their daughters and sons could and should be participants. Ann says older sister Patty was her role model. “Sports opened doors for me, always,” Ann says. Her family is her biggest accomplishments, she believes. Ann and husband Don have three children; son DJ works for the AZ Diamondbacks.

“The biggest obstacle is insecurity,” she says. Echoing Marilynn Smith (LPGA Co-Founder), Ann observed that there always will be people out there trying to discourage you, suggesting that you should be at home, making babies.

Misty Hyman — Olympic Gold Medalist, 2000 Sydney Olympics (200m butterfly)

Diagnosed with asthma as a young child, Misty had a doctor who told her parents swimming would be good for her. Into the pool she went, at Roadrunner Park in Phoenix, AZ. Her first race gave no hint of the greatness to come. She dove in, swam a few strokes, then headed straight for the side of the pool and got out. After that, her first goal became simply to finish a race. Next goal?—not to finish last. She learned that by setting goals, things become possibilities.

“When I missed making the Olympic team by 3 one-hundredths of a second, I was heartbroken at first. It meant another four years before I could try again.” But she got in touch with why she really loved to swim and be in the pool (and today mentions the smell of chlorine and coffee together!). Her times became record times and she moved forward by overcoming adversity. “The angst and pressure melted away, and the love of swimming shined through.”

Linda Vollstedt — ASU Women’s Golf Coach 1980 - 2001

Linda believes her introduction to golf was destiny. When she was 10 her parents joined a country club in Portland, OR. It was family oriented, and she started playing. Growing up with boys, she loved to compete, but couldn’t compete in football and baseball. Golf was acceptable. She played in tournaments and enjoyed the competition and camaraderie. After earning a degree in Math Education from ASU, Linda went to work as a high school teacher. One day the school needed a golf coach. She said yes. “Destiny,” she says.

More “destiny” was to follow. The golf coach position opened up at ASU. She took it and left a job at the top of her pay grade ($30K, at the time) for a “part time” coaching job that paid $9K. The pay was not fair for a woman, clearly, but Linda made it work. She cashed in her 401K, sold property and did what she could to get by. A small voice kept telling her, “If you do this, you will be rewarded.” She truly believes she has been. During the Q & A portion of the program, Linda was asked about the wisdom of giving kids ribbons for merely showing up. She surprised a few people when she said she believes it’s okay, because kids should be encouraged. She reflected on Misty’s goals of finishing a race and not being last. “I think it’s good to give them something to build upon.”

Nona Lee — SVP & General Counsel, AZ Diamondbacks

Nona was an athlete growing up, playing in the streets with boys. She was a good athlete, but acknowledges she “wasn’t an elite athlete.” After college she worked as a litigator for a law firm, and wanted to start a sports law practice at the firm. She was told no. However, when the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) arrived on the scene, she was able to marry her passion for sports with her law background. One of her favorite memories is working at America West Arena and having a key to the Arena (before card keys were invented).

All of these women had to overcome challenges. Nona was a black, woman lawyer in a male-dominated industry. Today she is happily “where I’m supposed to be.”

You don’t have to be an elite athlete to derive the benefits of participating in sports. But you can challenge yourself, and by challenging yourself, improve yourself — mentally, emotionally and physically. Not everyone can win a gold medal, but anyone can turn golf into gold. Say ‘Yes!’ to sports!

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