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Alena Sharp (Greg Wahl-Stephens)
Alena Sharp (Greg Wahl-Stephens)

Hockey helps Alena Sharp maintain golf focus Add to ...

O’Toole has surfed since she was 7 and spends much of her off-season hanging 10, hitting the waves at least twice a week. She rang in the new year with a solid weekend of surfing in San Diego, which is south of her home in San Clemente.

“Golf is very mental and I think surfing really humbles the mind,” says O’Toole, whose long blonde hair, lean body and wholesome California looks make her seem perfectly natural on a surfboard. “You’re definitely not in control out in the water.”

Her favourite breaks are mostly in California – Cottons Beach in San Clemente, San Onofre State Beach, Surf Rider in Los Angeles and Wind and Sea in San Diego. She likes Waikiki in Hawaii, too.

“Paddling strengthens your core, your back and your balance,” she says. “Golf is all about that. Surfing is a really good workout, especially when you’re trying to handle the waves and stay on the board.”

Dewi Claire Schreefel: Because it’s there

A leaderboard isn’t the only thing the 26-year-old Dutch player likes to climb. She likes to go up rocks, too, both indoors and outdoors.

Schreefel is starting her third year as an LPGA Tour member and is relatively new to rock climbing as well, having started at 23 at the suggestion of her coach. While she might still be a novice, she is making progress.

“At times I know what I’m doing,” says Schreefel, who also likes sailing and playing field hockey, “but I do much better with instruction from below.”

Now a resident of Costa Mesa, Calif., she does most of her climbing indoors but has also ventured onto a real mountain. “I have only climbed outside once, at Smith Rock in Oregon. Absolutely gorgeous.”

While many might be fearful of injury through falling or even just ripping up fingers and hands, Schreefel seems to bear no such anxiety. “Climbing is very relaxing and fun. It’s a great workout.”

Wendy Ward: Saddle up

The four-time LPGA winner doesn’t spend her off-seasons sleeping in. She’s up at 5 a.m. to begin her day as a cattle rancher.

Ward, 38, has a 130-acre farm in Edwall, Wash., and tends 130 head of beef cattle and three horses. Her daily chores typically take five or six hours and include feeding the cows. It’s hard, physical labour on a piece of land far different than the manicured fairways she strolls during the golf season.

“There is a lot of exercise that goes into daily chores,” Ward says. “Lots of walking, lifting and moving pens and panels for the horses. Hauling buckets of water and grain by hand. Bucking small square bales and hay for the horses. Rolling out big round bales of hay for the cows and bulls. There are always fences that need mending so working with your hands and stringing out barbed wire makes for a pretty good workout.”

Despite all the cowhand duties, she does find time to slip in some golf practice, though. She hits balls in the pasture and sometimes uses the farm’s 15-yard-wide driveway as a range for pitch shots, aiming at old mineral tubs or tires she sets out as targets. Her dogs sometimes shag balls.

“The cows get curious and come watch,” she adds, “ so they act as simulated gallery. They are very quiet for the most part.”

Suzann Pettersen: Fresh powder

The 30-year-old Norwegian is the prototypical modern female player: athletic and powerful. She comes by her physique honestly.

Pettersen is a workout maniac and has recently taken up cycling. She can often be found roaming the roads in and around Orlando, where she lives now, in a peloton with male riders who push her faster.

But her true love is skiing, which perhaps is not surprising given her home country is so immersed in all kinds of skiing, and has produced such champions as cross-country legend Bjorn Daehlie and alpine experts Aksel Lund Svindal and Kjetil Andre Aamodt.

Pettersen first put on skis at 3 and is equally comfortable in cross country and downhill, although she admits the latter is more to her liking – “much more speed and excitement.”

While her golf game takes her all over the world – she’s ranked No. 3 and has won eight LPGA titles and another five in Europe – she always returns home to Norway when her mind is set on skiing some of the globe’s best mountains.

She comes down off the hill refreshed and stronger. “Skiing requires balance, rhythm and strength, all of which are important to golf,” she says. “Like all sports, you have to have a focus and hunger to win and to be the best. I guess focus and balance is a fine combination between both skiing and golf.”

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