Golf.com's fourth annual Most Beautiful Women in Golf "shines a light on some of the game's most dynamic personalities: LPGA sensations, golf-loving celebrities, TV stars and more." It almost appears to be the biggest budget golf photo shoot of the year, though some will wonder given the much-circulated image of Jan Stephenson posing in a bathtube featuring geriatric shower handles only are seen at Mayo Clinic Courtyard's.
Not that there's anything wrong with Courtyards at the Mayo Clinic. But back to the main point...
Anya Alvarez pens a guest piece for The Guardian on the golf media's complicated relationship with women. As a former Big Break contestant who was spray-tanned to look like a Jersey Shore star. She calls out all of the major publications and television, then writing:
I played on the LPGA tour for one season and the developmental tour for two years before that. During my time on tour I felt better coverage for female golf pros could actually help grow the game for women. Since golf is male dominated, and the recreational golf population is only 20% female, golf media focuses on appealing to men. Perhaps magazines and websites think that if they started providing real coverage on LPGA golfers men would lose interest. Maybe they’re right, but they would no longer be marginalizing women. Women make up 50% of the population, so in business terms it does not make sense to completely undermine us by only viewing us as bodies to be objectified and gawked at.
The Telegraph's Oliver Brown was also inspired to write after the Golf.com package appeared, and specifically targeted Holly Sonders.
Sonders, predictably, took to Twitter to say she was “humbled” by the accolade. My colleague James Corrigan countered, quite rightly, that she ought to feel insulted. For if Sonders postures as a progressive force for women for golf – and she does, openly – then she should perhaps question, firstly, why not a single top-50 active player merits a mention in this risible list and, secondly, why an influential magazine insists upon ranking according to aesthetic rather than athletic virtues.
The crassness is overwhelming. In football, Sepp Blatter was all but flayed alive, with some justification, for suggesting that women’s matches could be more enticing if the protagonists deigned to wear tighter shorts. Golf, however, makes a veritable industry out of this casual objectifying.
Brown also goes after Golf Digest.
In May 2014 it decided that, all things being equal, it was high time to find a female cover star. There was an eclectic array of contenders: teenage phenomenon Lydia Ko was on the rise, while Lexi Thompson had just electrified audiences in America by becoming the second youngest women’s major champion in history. Instead, the brains trust in residence alighted upon the figure of Paulina Gretzky, whose towering contribution to this great game was that she happened to be the fiancée of Dustin Johnson. Plus, she was glamorous – and amenable to the idea of seductively bending over her club in a sports bra.
The specious flannelling that Jerry Tarde, the editor-in-chief, used to justify this selection was priceless.
“Paulina ranks at the high end of the golf celebrity scene today,” he argued. “She has a compelling story to tell.”
Seriously, Jerry? A compelling story? You might care to study what one of your own writers said about Miss Gretzky, in another hit parade headed 'WAGs of the US Open’, to form a fuller sense of her exotic hinterland.
“She is known for posting scantily-clad photos of herself on Instagram,” the caption reads. “And, well, that’s really it.”
The WAG's slideshows do way more hits for the sites than any actual golf coverage, so they aren't going away.
However, given the harrassment Paige Spiranac receives and the privacy concerns that have PGA Tour WAGs wearing credentials identifying them by number, at some point the objectification situation will become a security issue.