Suzann Pettersen has won tournaments in 10 different countries since turning pro in 2000. This year alone, the Norwegian-born 32-year-old plans to play in 13. Turns out, the road to LPGA stardom is best traveled by jumbo jet, and if you don’t like resting your head at 30,000 feet — well, maybe it’s not the job for you. We caught up with Pettersen while she spent a rare moment at her transplanted home in Orlando, an easy 4,600 miles from her birthplace in Olso. For Suzann Pettersen, that’s not very far at all.
What’s your favorite part of life on the road?
I just love to travel. Everything about it — you know, being able to travel the world, see different places, help grow the game of golf — personally, I like it. But as a professional golfer, all the traveling, and all the places you see — it’s just a part of the lifestyle we live. If you don’t like it, I don’t think you’ll enjoy the job.
Is there any place you look forward to going to more than others?
I like Asia. Singapore, Thailand. Obviously, we play a lot of events in Asia. It’s such a big part of our tour these days, and I think it’s important to bring golf to a lot of different parts in the world.
You’ve had a lot of success in Asia. Any reason why?
I don’t really know why. When you go new places, some people immediately say, “Oh, I don’t like this, I don’t like that.” But I really just like to embrace the different places to go, and look at it as another opportunity. Maybe that helps with the golf. Who knows?
Do you have any tips for people who travel a lot for work?
With as many hours and nights and weeks as we spend on the road … treat yourself. Spend on a nicer hotel. Go shopping and get something a little more expensive. It’s really worth it. You gotta feel comfortable in your environment. It’s not a bad thing to treat yourself sometimes.
How do you stay in shape when you’re on the road?
I think it’s easiest when I’m on the road because I have so much time on my hands. When I’m home, there’s always something else to do. When I’m traveling it’s usually just hotel, golf, eat and sleep. It’s easy to schedule your day and get the workouts in. I always try to stay in hotels that have gyms. And if they don’t, I’ll go exploring and find a local gym.
What’s your routine like when you’re in there?
I’ll do an hour of some sort of cardio, and then a good hour of strength. I easily kill two hours in the gym if I can.
How often do you go?
In the offseason, its seven days a week. In season, pretty much seven days a week as well. But they’ll be a different structure to it. I’ll do strength maybe four times, and cardio maybe four times a week. If I have the time, I’ll spend a full two hours, but always at least an hour. As much time as I can — it’s my getaway place.
Speaking of getting away, how do you pass the time when you’re on planes? Anything you like to do?
I’m a big sleeper. Once I’m rid of my luggage and can board the plane, it’s pretty much the best time I have to relax. I’m not a big reader, so if I am awake I’ll usually watch TV shows or movies.
I’m into TV shows right now. I’ve been watching Suits, White Collar, Homeland — they’re all really addicting. If you watch one, you gotta watch two or three … and each episode is nearly 50 minutes! You can easily kill a few hours once you get going.
Do you keep track of how many miles you travel?
I just started this year. I haven’t added them up yet. I’m curious if I’ll be close to 100,000 miles. I just killed almost 10,000 going to Norway and back to Orlando. So I think I’ll get there.
About that: You’ve been on tour a while now, but what was the adjustment like when you first left home for the states?
I’ve pretty much been on the road since I was 20. I think I moved to Orlando when I was 21. At first, there were a lot of adjustments. Getting to know different places. Getting to know the local community. Just feeling comfortable. It took a while before I could actually call Orlando home. But if you talk to me now when I’m on the road, and I say I’m going home, I mean Orlando. In the past, I used to say I was going to Orlando. If I said I was going home, I meant Oslo. Now I actually call both places home. And I do feel very comfortable here. This is where I spend most of my off time…And this is where I have all my stuff.
How often do you get back to Norway?
I was just there last week. I usually go back five times a year. I spend a while there over Christmas. You know, I try to go back whenever I can. My family and friends are over there. It’s nice to put a face to the name sometimes.
Why do you think so many good golfers come out of Scandinavia? Doesn’t seem like the ideal climate for it.
Well, Sweden has produced a lot of great golfers. Norway’s only had a few. Growing up, I didn’t know too many golfers. But you do the best with what you have. You focus on what you can do. Hitting golf balls in a hitting bay, you can really pay attention to the technique. When you finally get on grass, you notice how the balls fly. It makes you really focus on each part of what you practice.
Can you still handle the cold?
No! I freeze very easily. When I’m there, I know I’m only there a few days, so I deal with it. But the long winters I’m over and done with.
Longest Trip: 19.5 hours. “New York to Singapore…and it felt long, too.”
Best airport: Copenhagen
Worst airport: L.A. “It’s so old. And when you connect you have to drag your bags across the entire place. Ugh.”
Most consecutive weeks on the road: “I think I did seven back when I first started. Never again.”
Item you can’t leave home without: “My phone. It’s my connection to the world. If I don’t have it, I feel really empty.”
Jet Lag cure: “Stay hydrated and force yourself to move around.”
Place you’d most like to visit that you haven’t been: South Africa.