During one of the rain delays at last week’s Solheim Cup, an amazing thing happened. The Golf Channel had a short video segment of a sort of coming out moment they arranged for Sophie Gustafson. It required so much courage on her part, it almost brought tears of joy to my eyes.
For all her comely Swedish beauty, we never get to see her being interviewed. And there’s a reason for that: she has such a debilitating stuttering problem, her words are often frozen in mid-syllable and she stutters herself into silence. I first found this out when I stumbled upon and got to play with her and Maria Hjorth and Karin Koch at one of my home courses. Even towards the end of the round when we were all in the joy of the moment and playing well, she could not stop the stuttering.
I approached her on the range when I was covering the LPGA Tour’s inaugural Founders Tournament in March, reintroduced myself and reminded her of our round that day. Because Koch was also a member and Hjorth sometimes practiced at the club, I thought it would be like old home week. But as cordial and gracious as she was, the years had erased me from her memory. And still, with all her success, the stuttering was still there.
She has tried many ways to move beyond this daily aggravation, even spending three solid weeks with a speech therapist for 10 hours a day back in 2002. It didn’t have a lasting effect.
This video she recorded appears to be another step in that long process. It’s recorded on an all-black set and she’s dressed in black. I got the sense that there was no crew there because it’s just her sitting on the set with no interviewer. She reads questions on a card and then responds to them.
Val Skinner is a former LPGA Tour player and current on-course commentator for the Golf Channel covering the LPGA and she was acknowledged at the end of the broadcast version of this recording as having helped bring it together. It’s not in this re-broadcast version, but it was worth mentioning for the humanity that went into this.
The video piece is here. It runs 3:23.