I did not know what to expect when Sally Little agreed to meet me at 9 am in the morning for coffee at the Radisson Hotel, in Green Point, Cape Town. The idea was that it was time to put a face to the email discussions. I had arrived early to make a good impression and took a seat on the veranda overlooking a calm Atlantic Ocean basking in placid Mother City weather. To remind me what she looked like just in case I greeted the wrong person, I opened my laptop to take one last look at her profile on The Sally Little Foundation website.
When I looked up from her picture, Sally had just entered the Radisson’s breakfast area. With a disarming smile she came directly to where I was sitting. “You must be Adli, it’s so nice to meet you,” she extended her hand to give me a confident handshake. With an equally friendly business partner, Kathy Gorchoff, Sally set about making me feel so at ease that the next hour became the most delightful meeting I had had in months.
As she recounted her years of living and working in the United States, I was struck by not just the ease with which she told her stories, but also her own self-awareness. “Every time I won a tournament,” she confided, “I would keep the trophy in my bag, then hid it under my bed.” She did not want her mom to make a fuss about her achievements.
This was not a stand-offish celebrity with guarded comments, wry smiles and tinted sunglasses. Perhaps the only trace she bore of the world champion golfer status was an unmistakable self-confidence that she integrated with an unusual openness and willingness to share candid insights. Drawing attention to a slight gait in her step, for instance, she revealed that she was going to have an operation on her knee but would be available on Skype.
But as we were sipping our coffee it became obvious that we had gathered to answer an important question: What made me, a non-golfer, think that I could capture the life history of a world class golfer? Sally did not put in those words, but that was what I was warming up to, to convince her that I was just the right person for the job. I then told her a story…..