This LPGA hall-of-famer trades her golf clubs for fishing poles in the off-season to play on a different kind of course…one that leads to monster fish aboard her 32-foot Intrepid.
Karrie Webb is recognized as one of the greatest female golfers of all time. The world’s fifth-ranked female player holds the record for most Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) tour victories with an impressive 41 major titles. When Webb won the Women’s British Open in 2002, she became the first player in LPGA history to achieve the “Super Career Grand Slam” by winning all five majors, including the du Maurier, which is no longer held. In just the last six months, Webb kicked off the season by winning the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open in February and the JTBC Founder’s Cup in March.
Webb’s grandparents introduced her to golf, and she was inspired to pursue it as a career after she watched Greg Norman play the Queensland Open in 1986. “I would go out with my grandparents every Saturday morning with plastic clubs, but by the time I was seven years old I was too strong and kept breaking them. My grandparents promised they would get me a set of golf clubs for my eighth birthday so that was my official start in golf,” says Webb. That was in the early 1980s, the same time Greg Norman was becoming known as the best player in the world. “When I was 11 years old I told my parents I was going to be a professional golfer when I grew up, and I never wanted to do anything else.”
Webb’s parents and grandparents also inspired her love for boating and most of all, fishing. “I grew up along the coastline of Australia near the Great Barrier Reef. I did some deep-sea fishing with my family, but we mainly stuck to backwater creek fishing. My parents and grandparents had a ‘creek hut’ on a sandy out-crop at the mouth of a large creek with the Pacific Ocean on the other side. We could only get there by boat and we spent all our free time there,” reminisces Webb, the eldest of three girls. “Until I was 12 or 13 years old, I was kind of like my dad’s little boy. Wherever he wanted to go, I wanted to go—and he really loved fishing—so all my memories of hanging out with him on the water are my favorite fishing stories. He instilled a true passion for boating in me.”
Years later Webb moved to Orlando, Florida, but soon realized she couldn’t be away from the coast so she moved to Boynton Beach, where Ayr Waves II found its home on her boatlift. “In ’06, I had a really good year on the tour, so my Intrepid 32 was my reward, and I still love it. If I ever get another boat, I’ll get another Intrepid. Being on my boat is definitely my main hobby when I’m not on the course. I’m pretty fair-weather when it comes to fishing, but even if it’s really windy I don’t mind cruising along the Intracoastal—and I don’t think about golf at all while I’m out there,” says Webb, who taught herself the prep work required for fishing. “Since my dad would always help me, I could bait my hook but that was about it. I wanted to learn all the techniques and be able to do everything, so now I feel like a true angler.”
Like most fishermen and women, Webb says her dream day fishing is a day filled with catching with a fish fry at the end of it. “There is a lot of work that goes into deep-sea fishing, so it’s definitely more enjoyable when I can stand on the dock and filet a big catch. Since my hands are a pretty important part of my career I filet my fish a little slower than others, but I still filet them alongside everyone else.”
Webb primarily fishes off the coast of South Florida but has taken Ayr Waves II to the Florida Keys a few times. “I’ve gone down to the Keys for lobster miniseason a few times and since I’m competitive, chasing a lobster to get it in my bag becomes a mission. I don’t dive as much as I fish, but it is another activity on my list of things to do more often once my schedule slows down. The last 10 years, the British Open has been scheduled for the same week as mini season.”
As a professional athlete, Webb enjoys the thrill of the game…big game fish, that is. “I’ve never caught a tarpon, so that’s definitely on my list of dream catches, along with all the great game fish. I’ve caught a big dolphin and a white marlin off of Boynton inlet, but I’ve never caught a sailfish. I also want to make it to The Bahamas when the tuna are running.” Webb says many other choice catches are where she grew up near the Great Barrier Reef and insists they are some of the best-tasting fish in the world—coral trout is her favorite and she also enjoys barramundi, a relative to snook that is just as tasty and highly regulated.
As much as Webb would like to make more time for boating and fishing, her sights are set on June 2016—the qualifier for the Summer Olympics. “I’ve accomplished so much in golf, so goal setting has been really hard in the last few years except for trying to win golf tournaments. So when it was announced that golf could be in the 2016 Summer Olympics for the first time since 1904, that became my goal.”
Webb turns 40 this year to round out a remarkable 18-year professional career. Once the 2016 Olympics are over she will consider taking more time off the course. “I’ve only made one trip across to The Bahamas, but I want to do a lot more of that. It’s hard to find the time right now because the best time of year to go is the summer, which is my busiest season with golf, but The Bahamas is my biggest bucket list item,” says Webb, who adds that she also wants to charter a crewed catamaran and cruise the Virgin Islands. “When I start to wind down my professional career and have more time, I will fill it with anything that has to do with being on a boat.”
By Christine Carpenter, Southern Boating July 2014