15 Feb 2017
Karrie Webb is not ready to retire just yet, although she acknowledges that the time is coming when she will jump off the travelling roadshow and spend some more time back in north Queensland.
Webb, arguably Australia's greatest golfer, says she will play a full schedule on the LPGA Tour around the world this year before reassessing her future, having momentarily contemplated a homecoming and virtual-retirement at the end of 2016.
Previously, she had said she would consider her position after the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, but having narrowly missed a spot on the Australian team, she was left with a sour taste that she could not allow to be the end point of her 25-year career.
So after trying to win her sixth ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open title at Royal Adelaide this week, she will head off on the road yet again to compete with women half her age of 42.
"I did have to reassess,'' she said today. "One of the things I had to reassess was I didn't go to the Olympics, which was very disappointing, and it really took me a while to work out what I wanted to do. But the game has been so good to me, and I couldn't let not making the Olympics bring all of that down. So I'm committed to playing a full year this year, and then we'll just see.
"I'm going to go year-by-year, but at some point I'm actually really excited to look into other avenues and explore different options outside of being inside the ropes competing. I've done that for over half my life now and it does excite me to take on new challenges that I don't have as much experience of as playing golf. But I still think I'll play some golf, it just might not be as much as it has been in the past 20 years or so.''
Webb has been on the road since 1996, living between her base in Florida and the Townsville area where nowadays, she spends time with family and indulges her love of fishing. She craves a time when she can take in the better weather and watch her beloved North Queensland Cowboys live, rather than through the internet. "I haven't been at home in north Queensland in the middle of the year for a long time and that's the nicest time of the year to be there. At some stage in the near future, that's on the cards.''
Her future will definitely include mentoring of Australia's best young female players, a role she has taken to with gusto for the past nine years with Golf Australia's Karrie Webb Scholarships. This week she practised with Victorian star Alizza Hetherington and rookie professional Hannah Green as well as Steph Na and Queenslander Karis Davidson.
Webb worries about the impatience of the modern professionals and the tendency of the game to push them too hard, too early. It was a theme she took up at the tournament cocktail party when she made a speech. "My fear for the young girls is that it's either Lydia Ko, or 'fail','' she said. "When you look at men, most of the mainstream sports you can have a career and make lots and lots of money. There are only two mainstream sports -- golf and tennis -- where women have the opportunity to make money, but also to make money you don't have to be the top one percent to make a career.
"I said last night that a successful career in my mind is someone who plays for 'x' number of years and decides for it to be done for whatever reason, they have no debt, own their own house and have money put away for their retirement. They might not be able to retire but they've got their life set up and played a sport they love and it gave a great life from. I'd like for us to aim to have lots of girls doing that and out of that one or two special players who make lots and lots of money.''