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Tee Times Magazine | Minneapolis/St. Paul

Breezy Point

Local Golf
September 24, 2017

THE QUEEN OF THE ROYAL GOLF CLUB, ANNIKA SORENSTAM
Annika and her son Will McGee, 2, sitting on of the rooms at Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies
+ click to enlarge
Annika and her son Will McGee, 2, sitting on of the rooms at Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies
+ click to enlarge
By R.J. Smiley


Throughout history the vast majority of women who have become Queen have achieved that distinction by birthright or marriage. Being born into the Royal family is a no-brainer. It is a little harder to convince a King or Crown Prince to marry a commoner, thus becoming Queen.

Qualifications For The Queen:
Annika retired from professional golf in 2008. In her professional career she won 93 golf tournaments. She won 72 times in LPGA events, including 10 majors, and 21 other tournaments worldwide. She won over 22 million dollars, two million more than her closest competitor. She earned that awesome sum in 149 fewer career events. She is the only female golfer to have carded a 59 in competition. Annika has represented Team Europe in eight Solheim Cup Matches where she still holds several records. She has served as Vice Captain three times and will Captain Team Europe in the 2017 Matches. Since her retirement, she has become a golf course designer and formed a foundation doing charity work.

After retirement from professional golf Annika has had two children, Ava and Will, with husband Mike McGee. In 2006 she was granted American citizenship. She now holds dual citizenships, American and Swedish.

Annika Sorenstam was selected Queen of the Royal Golf Club by the course developer, Hollis Cavner, for one major reason: She earned it!

Hollis Cavner, "Mr. Palmer and I had talked about this project for years. Finally everything lined up to proceed. Arnold had known Annika for years. They were very close. Who else deserves to be the Queen beside Mr. Palmer?"

At the Royal Golf Club, Annika sits on the throne with the undisputed King of Golf. The King and Queen worked together to create the Royal Golf Club on the old Tartan Park Course just east of St. Paul, MN. There will be no front or back, just the Queen nine and the King nines. Each designed their respective nine holes. The Royal Golf Club was the brainchild of Hollis Cavner, golf entrepreneur.

In a recent interview Tee Times asked Annika to open up about being Queen at the Royal Golf Club.

Tee Times: When you were given the opportunity to co-develop the King and Queen with the "King" what were your immediate thoughts?
Annika Sorenstam: I was thrilled to have the opportunity to work with Mr. Palmer and his team on the King and the Queen. I have always respected his work and enjoyed my time around him. It was also my first domestic course design work and most likely his last, so that was also an honor.

TT: Now that Mr. Palmer has passed, how does it feel to know that you will forever sit beside the King Of Golf?
AS: Mr. Palmer will always have a special place in my heart and the hearts of golf fans around the world. It's an honor to have been able to work with him. We discussed it a long time ago and I'm glad Hollis was able to pull it together. I will always remember our time together fondly both at the 3M Championship and working on this project.

TT: There are plans to drink a toast to The King and Queen at the end of each round. Give our readers a sense of how that will feel.
AS: I wasn't even aware of that there were plans to toast us at the end of each round. That's fantastic and gives me chills. When I play it, I will certainly toast Mr. Palmer. He loved a Ketel One on the rocks with a lemon!

TT: How much latitude were you given in the design of your 9-holes?
AS: We were given a budget and certain parameters. Other than that, we were given a fair amount of freedom. The layout itself was pretty good already, so we didn't need to do anything too drastic. I wanted to work closely with Arnold Palmer Design to make sure we had a similar philosophy. We didn't want it to appear like two different courses. I think we accomplished that.

TT: Did you and Mr. Palmer sit down with the design team and layout some parameters for the course? How much did Hollis Cavner add to the design plan?

AS: Hollis had a big part in the plans and parameters from which we could work. Obviously, Thad Layton from Arnold Palmer Design also had a lot to do with it. I am thrilled with the way things are shaping up. I've seen photos of the clubhouse as well and everything looks great. Hollis has always been a visionary and an industry leader, so it was great to partner with him as well.

TT: Which is your favorite hole? Why?
AS: I would say the 3rd hole because we made it a shorter par four and it's a great risk-reward. The area around the green will really test your short game. I also really like the par three 7th.

TT: I understand that you have plans for a women's collegiate tournament to be held at the Royal Golf Club, what triggered this idea?
AS: We are thrilled at the opportunity to move our event to Royal Golf Club. 3M is our Presenting Sponsor, and with them being based in the same city, it just made a lot of sense. Throw in the fact that Hollis has always run first-class tournaments and it should be a great combination.

TT: Jim Leary, GM and Director of Golf, is very proud that the Short Course will allow kids to play free - forever! How much input did you have in the planning?
AS: I can't take any credit for that. I think Hollis and Jim decided on that and I think it's fantastic. We have to grow the game and it starts with kids. Allowing them to play for free has to help get more kids involved.

TT: What do your children think of having their mom referred to as the Queen on the throne beside the King of Golf? Did they get to know Mr. Palmer?
AS: Our kids were fortunate to have been around Mr. Palmer a handful of times. I'm not sure they have given the name of the course much thought. Hopefully, one day they will think it's pretty cool. They used to call Mr. Palmer, "Uncle Palmer." I'm not sure if they felt close to him like a relative, or just mistook "Arnold" for "Uncle?" Either way, it is funny. Our son Will will always be connected to him through his premature birth at Winnie Palmer Hospital. He was born three months early and the care he got at the Anderson Center for Neonatology was nothing short of miraculous. We have Mr. Palmer to thank for that.

The Royal Golf Club will open the restaurant, pro shop and driving range in the Fall of 2017. The grand opening of this never again designed combination course will be spring of 2018. Don't miss the opportunity to play and drink a toast to the King and Queen!






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