Late last week, LPGA players reacted strongly to Paulina Gretzky’s forthcoming cover spot on Golf Digest, in which the well put-together fiancé of PGA Tour star Dustin Johnson and daughter of The Great One will appear in a bra and tights.
The players felt the presence of a non-pro golfing female (the magazine’s third in a year) was a slight to them. They’re right, but truth be told, it’s indicative of how irrelevant the LPGA has become in the American male consciousness, and of the perpetual visualization of women as sex objects in golf and all of sports.
I’ve spent a lot of time around golf over the past 17 years, all over the eastern half of the U.S., and the objectification of women in and around that sport and environment is as common as it is anywhere. The typical white, country club-raised female pro knows this, and some have capitalized on it, as high-end looks supersede high-level talent in the eyes of Madison Avenue.
I once dated an aspiring pro golfer, who couldn’t stand up to the intense pressure of the game at that level, but who could’ve made a ton of money based on other attributes, if she could’ve shot in the low-70s consistently. After realizing the Tour wasn’t attainable, she gave lessons and worked in the pro shop of a club in Ohio, where she was harassed endlessly by male membership. After enduring that for a season, she left the business, and became a nurse.
Like corporate America, golf is a man’s world. It’s unfortunate, but it is what it is, and to pretend otherwise is disingenuous.
Golf is a place where segregation still exists, as men’s grills are a big draw at the clubs still antiquated enough to have them and keep women out. Only 20 percent of golfers in this country are female, so the sport is primarily sold to the other 80 percent, especially at golf magazines.