Following her three-year break from the game, Sander exchanged the American golf scene for the British one, from 1974 through '79. The Sanders sold their house in Seattle and moved with their two children to England, where Steve supervised the European operations of Brittania Sportswear, Ltd. In four attempts, Anne got no farther than the second round of the Ladies' British Open Amateur Championship, and she observed a gradual decline in the quality of her play. "You practice all the time in the wind, and I developed a reverse pivot," Anne says. "I hit so many wind shots that I never got off my left side." In 1979, Steve sold his interest in Brittania and the Sanders moved back to Seattle, where Anne regained her balance on the practice range of the Broadmoor Golf Club. A year later, she returned to England and won the British Open Amateur, at Woodhall Spa in Lincolnshire. "Isn't that ironic?" she says.
It's impossible to watch Sander play today without wondering what impact she and Carner would have had on the LPGA if they had turned pro together. Sander's self-deprecating wit; her quick, intelligent speech; and her bold body language (she sometimes grabs her stomach and staggers when she laughs) would surely have won over fans and the media, while her accuracy and consistency would have been well-suited to medal play. "Anne would have been a terrific pro," says Carner. "Back then, we used to play such short golf courses. She would have eaten us all up."
A couple of decades have passed since they last met head-to-head, but Carner would recognize her old rival Anne Quast in the present-day Anne Sander—the same trim figure, the brisk pace, the almost morbid fascination with her rare muffed shots, which Sander calls "diabolicals." And Sander still has her old habit of blurting "Oh, Anne!" or "Oops!" when she makes less-than-crisp contact on a shot. In a first-round match at last fall's Women's Mid-Amateur, held at The Hills of Lakeway Golf Club, in Austin, Texas, she yelled "Uh-oh!" when an eight-iron to the 10th green didn't feel right.
" 'Uh-oh'?" her opponent, Lynne Cowan, said, looking baffled as the ball flew straight at the pin and checked up within birdie range. "It almost went in the hole!"
Cowan's caddie, Dwayne Reynolds, shrugged. "You gotta learn," he said. "She says that every time."
What Carner would not recognize is Sander's swing, which has lost the little lift that displeased Wind. Sander says she was playing so badly three years ago that she nearly quit. She got some help from teaching pro Billy Derickson in Seattle, but couldn't get back to her consistent game. Eventually she sought out Phoenix teaching pro Ed Oldfield, who works with LPGA stars Betsy King and Jan Stephenson. "Ed told me, 'You know, at your age I don't think you can time four inches up and four inches down anymore,' " Sander says. "So we changed my swing completely. I have to think down now, not let myself come up. It took me three months to get a fairway wood airborne." She keeps her swing tuned up with periodic visits to Bill Tindall, the Broadmoor pro. "Even now, not one thing I'm doing out there comes naturally."
The field at this year's Senior Amateur would have found that hard to believe. When unseasonably frosty weather and a bitter wind made the course almost unplayable for the second round, Sander kept hitting greens with her controlled draw while the other seniors were splashing shots in ponds and ricocheting them through the pines. At tournament's end, with her nine-shot margin intact, Sander apologized for playing "chicken golf—as if it would have been more sporting to pitch a few balls into the water to make the tournament close. "Believe it or not," she said in a confidential whisper, "I was more nervous with a nine-stroke lead than I was the first two days."
While Sander has been successful at golf, she has been just as successful at her goal of leading a "normal" life. Sander works in her garden for an hour every day, plays the piano, prepares spectacular meals for dinner parties and dabbles in interior decorating. She taught history in high school for three years and spent another two years operating an art gallery. "She's a much better cook and gardener than she is a golfer, if that's possible," says Steve. "She has a real feel for those, whereas golf is something she has to work at."
Whenever possible, the Sanders play golf together, Steve from the championship tees (he is a one handicapper) and Anne from the men's. "We would like to play again in the Worplesdon Mixed Foursomes," says Steve, referring to the prestigious mixed event held in Surrey, England. "Everybody who's anybody has won that."
Each one of Anne's three sons—David, 25; Ned, 17; and Mark, 12—has caddied for Mom. David was 15 and a golfing neophyte when he carried for his mother as she won the British Amateur, and Anne recalls his brash advice when she couldn't decide between a four-iron and a five-iron on one hole: "Mom, it's a four-iron. Trust me."