Against All Odds

November 1 2012, Katie Ann Robinson
Pernilla Lindberg goes from snow buddy to golf pro

As a kid, Pernilla Lindberg only knew two seasons: Golf season and ski season. 

“When I was a little kid and people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up I always said ‘a professional skier or a professional golfer,’” says Lindberg. “I could never decide, so I always said both. I didn’t feel like I had to choose because it was two different seasons.”

Growing up in the foothills of the Scandinavian Mountains and spending more than half the year enveloped in snow, a career as a professional alpine skier might have been the clearer choice for Lindberg. But being the daughter of the president of her home course in Sweden, she went against the odds thinking that golf seemed to be the better fit.  

“My mom usually jokes that I spent more time on the golf course than most ‘real’ golfers,” Lindberg says. “My parents brought me out to the golf course when I was a baby and from then on I spent pretty much every summer either there or some other golf course in Sweden.

“Even before I played with them I would still walk 18 holes with them and pick flowers and stuff. So, I have to thank my parents for getting me into golf.”

Being equally passionate about both sports, Lindberg practiced her golf game during the short golf season and took to the slopes once snow began to fall, repeating the same cycle in the following years.

“Growing up I was golfing in the summer, skiing in the winter,” Lindberg said. “I think the break from golf in the winter time was good because it gave me a lot of good training. Like my legs have always been pretty strong because of my skiing and a lot of swing coaches have told me that I have a lot of power in my legs because they are so strong. I love that I can combine the two sports.”

During her early teenage years, Lindberg quickly rose in the ranks in both alpine skiing and junior golf, ranking in the top-1o in her age group in both sports. At 15, Lindberg was selected to be a member of the Swedish National Junior golf team, and it wasn’t until then that she felt like she had to choose one sport over the other. But as she started to devote more of her time to golf, it was a natural decision to pursue golf over skiing.

After making the national team, Lindberg was one of 25 junior golfers in Sweden admitted into the only high school golf academy, the Perstorp/Klippan Gymnasium. While at the school, a team of five girls traveled to the U.S. each year to compete in the Mercedes-Benz Women's Championship, put together by the University of Tennessee.

Two trips to this tournament helped put her name on the radar for many collegiate golf programs, but after being paired with Oklahoma State University during her first trip, she knew her name belonged on the Cowgirl roster.

“A lot of Swedish golfers have actually come through and played golf at Oklahoma State,” Lindberg said. “I talked to the girls who had been at Oklahoma State and they all loved it, so that made my decision pretty easy.”

By the end of her freshman year, she proved to be a star among the Big 12 female golfers, ranking third in the conference behind two Texas A&M players and earning the Big 12’s 2006 Newcomer of the Year. Over four years, Lindberg captured three titles, was chosen as the Big 12 Player of the Year in 2008 and earned First-Team All-American honors in two consecutive seasons.

“I’m really happy I got to spend four years there,” Lindberg said. “The atmosphere surrounding the golf team, both men’s and women’s, was amazing. We were very competitive, all the coaches had so much knowledge and Karsten Creek Golf Course was such a great practice facility.

“Going to that golf course every day and seeing Rickie Fowler or Peter Uihlien and all my teammates, it was great motivation every day and we always pushed each other. If I could go back to when I was choosing a college, I would go back and pick Oklahoma State again.”

Seeing the success she had as a collegiate and junior golfer, Lindberg knew her career was just beginning. After graduating with a degree in International Business in 2009, she spent the summer competing on the Symetra Tour and tallied five top-10s in 10 events. An 11th place finish on the season money list secured her a spot in the Final Qualifying Tournament where she earned her LPGA card with a 19th place finish.

Although Lindberg has struggled to continue this success into her professional career, she says she ends each season learning something new about her golf game which has helped shape her into the golfer she is now. Finishing her third year on the LPGA Tour, she saw spurts of brilliant play at the Jamie Farr Toledo Classic and the Navistar LPGA Classic, where she carded a career-best tie for 11th. Lindberg says it’s only a matter of time before all the pieces come together and she finds herself in the winner’s circle.

“I feel that everything is coming together slowly piece by piece,” Lindberg says. “Over my first three years, I feel that I have learned something new each year and that I’m finally putting more of it together. I think the second half of this year I’m starting to see the progress that I want and the game that I know I have. I really feel that I am going in the right direction.”

Topics: Alumnae in the News, LPGA Tour