I did not know what to expect when Sally Little agreed to meet me at nine 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 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 to make me feel so at ease that the next hour became the most fruitful meeting I had had in months.
As she recounted her years of living and working 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 keep the trophy in a bag, then hid it under the bed.” She did not want her mom to make a fuss about the achievement.
Here was no prima donna. 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 as we concluded our meeting, she revealed that she was going to have an operation on her ankle but would be available on Skype. It seemed as if someone had clearly forgotten to inform Sally that she is regarded as one of the greats in a very prestigious game!