Longtime LPGA standout and 2002 U.S. PING Junior Solheim Cup Captain Sherri Steinhauer took some time to answer your questions about her game, her experiences and her routines.
Q: What is your most memorable moment on the LPGA Tour?
A: My most memorable moment on the tour would have to be sinking the winning putt on the 1998 Solheim Cup team at Murifield Country Club and looking up and watching a group of players from the team storming the green to hug and congratulate our win. The team spirit was a very special time for me.
Q: It can be tough to feel comfortable at a new golf course in a city you've never been to. What sort of routine do you go through to try to get acclimated?
A: While on tour, my usual weekly routine is as follows. Monday: Day off. Tueusday: Play and practice. Wednesday: Pro-am tournament. Thursday-Sunday: Competition. If I have never been to a city or played the golf course I will use Monday as a day to become acclimated.
First, I will research my chosen hotel location to restaurants, comfort and driving distance to the golf course. If I am unhappy with any of this, I may change to a more convenient hotel to assure that I am comfortable and feel settled for the week. Personally, this is very important to me because I am always attempting to put myself in the best situation to allow for my best play.
Second, I will head to the golf course for investigation. I will make a trip to register for the tournament and find the locker room with my locker. I walk around the grounds searching out the driving range, putting green, any chipping greens, discovering whatever the course has to offer. I will also seek out the golf professional and have a chat about the course and any advice he may have to offer. By becoming comfortable with the surroundings at the course, I now put myself in a state so that I can approach Tuesday without any distractions and prepare for the tournament.
Third, I will check out hospitality. Each week the food that is served to players is different. I am very appreciative for whatever that may be but I have to be prepared to eat elsewhere if the food is not what puts me in the best competitive state. This rarely happens but at a new event one must be prepared for anything.
Q: What advice do you have for playing well under the stress of tournament golf, especially during the last four holes of a tournament? How does one deal with the excitement and nervousness of the situation?
A: Nerves are a fact of life and something everyone must deal with. You will run into people who say they are not nervous, well, most likely you will not have to worry about them as a competitor because their passion is missing. As far as your and my nerves go, treat them as your friend. Anyone who cares enough experiences nerves, so really, the bottom line is who ever can deal with them the best will most likely come out on top in the end. I truly believe confidence allows one to deal with nerves the best. In other words, the better you are playing the easier it will be to deal with a difficult situation and the nerves that go along because your confidence carries you to another level.
For example, I remember playing against Kelly Robbins in 1994 at the Sprint Championship in Daytona Beach, Fla. I experienced a level of confidence I have never come close to since. I was hoping she would make a putt so I had to. Or, I was hoping she would hit it in close so I had to. I had such an elevated amount of confidence with my game that not even my nerves could get in the way. I’ve often thought this is what Tiger Woods must feel every day of his life. Anyway, it is a wonderful feeling and I believe working on the mental side of the game and being prepared for any shot you may face helps you to attain this state.
Q: I am interested in playing golf in college. What is the best way to go about it?
A: Seek out as much competition as you can. Playing AJGA events is the best way one can prepare for college. Finding a college you want to play for can be a tough decision. This will depend on your abilities. If you are a top player you would want to choose a school that is a top-15 school in the country. This should allow you a number of options to locations, school size and varying degrees of academics to allow you the opportunity to make the team and gain competitive experience.
Q: I am 12 years old and finished the season with a stroke average of 90.3 . I live in Indiana and, as you know, we cannot play golf year round. I want to work on my putting stroke inside this winter. I am having trouble understanding a technique I know I need to work on. I have been told that I need to keep my putter low through impact. However I've been unable to grasp what this should feel like or find a drill to use to accomplish it.
A: Hi Alex, thank you very much for your question. Wow, for a 12-year-old you are very well educated with the game.
I understand you want a thought to work on for the winter so you can be ready to go come springtime. I can appreciate that growing up in Wisconsin. I use a long putter these days so I called a friend of mine to help better answer this question. He happens to be one of the greatest putters of all time, Dave Stockton. His advice is to practice putting one-handed (using your left hand only) and feel the back of the left hand going towards the hole. By using this concept you have to keep the putter head low through the impact area. His best advice on the feel part of the question, which I practice myself, is visualization. You want to feel the ball falling into an exact part of the cup. If you have a straight putt, you would visualize and feel the ball falling into the center of the cup. If you have a right-to-left breaking putt, you would visualize and feel the ball falling into the cup on the right side. You would zone in on this exact spot you are visualizing; the more break there is the more to the right of the cup you would see the ball falling. At some point, if the green is severe enough, a ball can actually fall in on the back side of the cup, so you want to visualize and feel the ball falling in at the back.