January 30, 2008

Q&A with Juli Inkster

Juli Inkster has been on tour 24 years and has won seven majors. Last year she cashed in 750,000 frequent-flier miles for three business-class tickets to Rwanda. Inkster and her two daughters joined four other LPGA players and a teaching pro as part of a relief effort: Golf Fore Africa. "It felt weird flying business class to Rwanda," she says. "But it's too far. We had to."

Q: Your husband is a golf pro. If you take your daughters on a trip, where do you go?

A: When we go on vacation, Brian likes to play golf and I don't, so Hawaii is a perfect spot for us. I can hang with the kids on the beach, and he goes to play. We prefer Maui or Kona.

Q: Are you someone who likes to get to the airport early, or do you cut it close?

A: I'm the opposite of my husband. Brian likes to get there early. I tend to get there late. Knock on wood, I've yet to miss one. I'm always trying to run around and take care of a bunch of stuff before I leave. One thing I'm susceptible to: I go to the wrong airport sometimes. Because I fly out of San Francisco and San Jose so often, I get confused. I'm not organized in terms of time and which airport I'm supposed to go to. I am usually good about which day I leave.

Q: If someone is flying into the Bay Area, which public courses do you recommend?

A: Harding Park (****1/2, harding-park.com) is good if you fly into San Francisco. And if you fly into San Jose, I would say Pasatiempo (****1/2, pasatiempo.com).

Q: The 1984 season was your first full year on tour, which makes 2008 your 25th. Have you ever taken the time to calculate how many miles you've traveled in your career?

A: Now why would I want to do that? I have no idea. This year was a lot because I went to Africa, South Africa, Sweden, France, Scotland and then all of my other tour stops in the United States.

Q: I recently saw you on a flight from Phoenix to Palm Springs. Where were you coming from, and where were you headed?

A: I was coming from working on my short game with Stan Utley and going to work on my long game with Mike McGetrick. I needed some homework for the winter.

Q: How many pairs of shoes do you pack for a week on tour?

A: It's pretty low. Let's see ... three pairs of golf shoes and probably two pairs of sneakers, plus a pair of flip-flops, sandals and dress shoes.

Q: How do you kill time on a plane?

A: I start out with USA Today. Then I go to The San Jose Mercury News. Then I move to People, Sports Illustrated, ESPN The Magazine and then throw in some crosswords or Sudoku puzzles.

Q: No Golf Digest or Golf World?

A: Oh, yeah! Put whatever you want in there, but I usually don't read about golf.