My Visit To “The Annika Academy”
MY VISIT TO THE ANNIKA ACADEMY
By, Jim Grosjean, Senior Travel Editor, Golf Talk America
In January I had the pleasure of touring the ANNIKA Academy at the Reunion Resort in Orlando, Florida. My guide was my good friend, Charlotta Sorenstam, who just happens to be Director of Golf Operations at the Academy. As you may know, when Annika Sorenstam takes on a new project, she puts her heart and soul into it. In fact, her passion for the game of golf is the driving force behind her Academy; a chance to give back to the game and share that passion.
The staff at the Academy is comprised of people who have been important in her own life. Head Instructor Henri Reis has been Annika’s only swing coach for the past twenty years. Annika’s sister Charlotta is a former winner on the LPGA Tour. Kai Fusser has been Annika’s personal trainer for ten years. Sister-in-law Michelle McGee is Director of Sales and husband Mike McGee is Managing Director of the ANNIKA brand of businesses, making for quite a family affair.
The Academy itself is housed in a beautiful stand-alone building. As you enter, you are greeted by friendly staff members who are quick to introduce themselves and make you feel at home in the lounge area. Behind the counter are offices and to the right is the well equipped workout facility. To the left is a trophy case with some of Annika’s memorabilia including the Gibson guitar which symbolized her victory at the Aerus Electrolux LPGA Championship held at the Vanderbilt Legends Club in 2002. Next you move past two locker rooms and the indoor/outdoor hitting bays and club fitting room. Outside there are short game areas, putting greens, driving range and the Reunion Resort’s three signature golf courses built by Palmer, Nicklaus, and Watson. For your off days from golf, you might visit the nearby Disney World or SeaWorld.
The two and three day golf schools are popular at the Academy. “School” begins at 8AM and lasts until 4:30 or 5PM. Classes have a maximum student to teacher ratio of 4:1. Individual lessons and all other services are available ala carte. At the three day schools, you have the good fortune of a workout session with Kai Fusser, the German-born fitness guru. He also gives a very informative nutritional overview. I was informed that the treadmills in the workout room are unplugged. They believe in exercise only under your own power. I would not suggest that you ask Kai to give you Annika’s workout.
The hitting bays are equipped with state of the art gizmos such as the V-1 Swing Analysis Machine, the FlightScope Kudo (a Doppler Radar Tracker), and K-Vest which provides 3-D swing analysis. The Academy is also a Callaway Performance Center providing the fitting system known as CPAS, which is the same technology used by Callaway Golf for R & D and fitting tour players.
To me, however, all this technology would be meaningless without the wonderful staff members who interpret the results and help guests achieve their goals. They believe that their clients become “friends for life.” Many students are surprised to find out that they don’t just beat balls all day here. Charlotta explained, “We hit a few, then we talk and learn. I want them to learn more and understand more and at the same time get better and enjoy this game now and in the future. I can relate to the student because I have changed my own swing.” While Charlotta misses playing tournament golf, she still sees many of her LPGA Tour friends who come to the Academy for training and workouts. That’s a great endorsement, so if you are interested in improving your game, check out www.theANNIKAAcademy.com for more information.