LPGA History: Looking Back with Sandra Haynie

Sandra Haynie Looks Back At LPGA Career

LPGA and World Golf Halls of Fame member Sandra Haynie won 42 LPGA tournaments, including 4 major championships in her career. She also captured the 1970 LPGA Player of the Year award. In 1974, she joined Mickey Wright as only the second player to win the LPGA Championship and the U.S. Open in the same season, a feat later accomplished by Juli Inkster, Meg Mallon, SeRi Pak and Karrie Webb. Haynie was a force with which to be reckoned on a weekly basis on tour. She competed in an era that included the likes of Kathy Whitworth, Mickey Wright, Carol Mann, Judy Rankin, Joanne Carner and others. Haynie attributes her success in great part to a strong mind and determined will. She faced plenty of challenges along the way, but always persevered. Today, Haynie passes on her breadth of knowledge to her students at The WinStar Golf Academy. The LPGA recently caught up with the Hall of Fame player.

"People always ask me, 'Don't you wish you won 42 tournaments now and made that kind of money,' and I can say, 'That would be great,' but, at the same time, I am really glad that I came along when I did, because I had the opportunity, hopefully, to make a difference in the LPGA and ensure that it was still around some 60 years later. For me, personally, I came along at just the right time." Sandra Haynie, June 11, 2010

LPGA: You obviously had a great career with 42 wins, including four majors. When you look back at your career, what do you remember the most?
Well, first and foremost, I was doing something that I love and making a living at it. And then second of all, the many friendships that we had out there. We may not have agreed all the time or on everything, but there were so few of us playing through that period that we had to stick together and had to support each other. Some of those bonds are still there today. Maybe some have changed a little bit with time because we have all gone off on our separate ways, in some respects, but, I think, those two things probably stand out the most.

LPGA: Was there anything you wanted to do or achieve in your career that you did not achieve?
Yes, absolutely, the Dinah Shore. If anybody asks me what tournament I didn't win that I wanted to win, that was it. I was close many times, but just never won it, and it was always one of my favorite events from the very beginning, on a golf course that I love. I still go out there and play it as often as I can.

LPGA: What type of player were you? What were your strengths and weaknesses?
I think I was a fairly consistent ball striker. When it went bad, it wasn't terrible, so I didn't ever go drastic one way or the other. I certainly went through periods when something was wrong and I would have to go get it worked on. But, I think probably my strengths were more my mental preparation and mental thought process. The other players would tease me. The night before the tournament some players were out, still practicing, and I had already gone to my hotel room. I would sit, finding my quiet time to, not necessarily play the golf course in my mind, but to feel my swing and what it was going to feel like the next day. As we know, as players, no two days are exactly the same, and the way you feel, but that was really what I did.

I also think people forget that we are human beings and things happen at home, things happen to us personally, but we still have to go out and still do our job. You need to learn to deal with those things, and I think that was something I was able to do. When I stepped inside the ropes, that was my job at the time, and whatever else that was going on had to wait until I was finished. Some players couldn't do that. They couldn't separate things; they would drag it on the golf course with them.

LPGA: You had a couple of years when you didn't play much at all?
In '76, I had some arthritis in my back. I had some problems with my left hand and ended up having surgery in early 1977. I just was at a point; I had played the game for a long time, even as a young person, at a pretty high level. I don't think I realized I was burned out until I said 'my hand hurts, my back hurts, and I think I am going to take some time off.' I found during that short period when I quit playing that, this, it was a breath of fresh air. I was really getting burned out, which, I think, we either don't want to recognize or think it will pass. But it didn't pass, and I was quite happy doing other things.

LPGA: From my perspective as a player that's one of the most impressive things about your career, that you did have an almost three year lay-off and then came back in '81-'82 and won three tournaments over the course of those two years. What was inside of you that enabled you to come back after a three year break and return to the top of your game?
HAYNIE: Well, I think there are two things. First of all, health. I was physically in much better shape. When I quit in '76, I really didn't plan to come back and then I started feeling better. Once I became healthy, I became a racquet ball addict and probably was in the best shape I had ever been in my life. I probably would not have done that had I been playing competitively all the time.

Alo I had gained more strength mentally. In '77, I started working with Martina Navatrolova and helping her a little bit with her career and finding that I had some mental strengths, that even though I didn't play tennis, that I was able to pass along some mental things to her. I think hearing words that were inside of me, but had never verbalized about the mental game, and how strong that is, helped me.

Well, then I thought, hmmm this feels good. I want to go out test the waters and see if I can play. If I can then I will, and if I can't, then I am not going to embarrass myself. But it didn't turn out that way. Really, I probably played better when I came back.

LPGA: When you finally decided to retire from playing and not come back again, what was the shift in your mind? Was it an easy decision?
It was really taken from me. I took a fall at a tournament and wrecked my right knee. It was a physical thing that took me out of the game, and that was just one of those things that I couldn't do anything about.

LPGA: What have you been doing since then? Do you have a golf academy?
I am helping WinStar Casino, run by the Chickasaw Indian Nation. They wanted to build a teaching academy and so we made a connection. For a while I was coming up one day a week and working on developing a teaching philosophy. We decided to create a program for the recreational player, one that put together a team of a mental, mindfulness guide, an instructor anra and someone that takes care of your fitness. What I tried to do was create a team that gives your recreational player the same kind of benefits that any professional has, and we are seeing some really great strides with it. The people are embracing it and are understanding that although they may have physical limitations that we try to help them with, they can still enjoy the game.

LPGA: What type of teacher are you?
I am not a real technical teacher. I am more of a big picture teaer, let's go find a target, let's enjoy the game, let's try different things. We have players that are getting better and it is really fun to watch. I found as an instructor that I cannot be all things to all people, and so creating a good team, where everybody has a specialty, works well. We have really heard some wonderful stories about how the program is helping with people's lives. It has just been a really interesting project and I am really enjoying it.

LPGA: When you stopped playing golf competitively do you think you would get involved in teaching?
Not in teaching. I liked the business side of it golf. I was the Director of Golf at three different facilities. The business side kept me from having the time to teach a lot. I admire teachers that can stand out there for eight hours and teach. I do not have that. You know, a couple of hours a day I am good. That's just about all I have in me. I guess that's all I have to give. I know many of our club professionals and instructors. They are out there all day and I know they do a wonderful job. I love the passion they have for it.

LPGA: Going back to your playing days, who were the players that really brought best out of you and the best out of your game on the course?
HAYNIE: Well, the first person that I think of is Mickey Wright. I had the benefit, I think, of coming along at really a good time because Mickey was at the height of her career and as an amateur I had a chance to play in some events with some of the professionals. That helped me because I knew them when I joined the tour. I remember one time, Mickey, pretty early along in my career, came to me and said, "We are going to bet something each round," and I'm thinking, 'Well, who is going to get hosed on this one?' And so I said 'OK', because whatever Mickey said was ok. She said, "We are going to keep our numbers of putts for a round." We bet and exchanged dinners every once in a while, but what it did really, even if you had a bad hole, it made you really pay attention to try to make a one putt, or two at worst. It was absolutely one of the greatest lessons that I learned.

Being able to play with Mickey, being able to play with Betsy Rawls, Patty Berg was not playing much then but she would come out occasionally, Carol Mann and I joined the tour the same week and we are good friends to this day, Kathy Whitworth…being able to be around and consistently play with those players was what I think made us all better. We may have been few, but we were strong.

Topics: Haynie, Sandra

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