Golf Magazine’s Most Beautiful Women list is hindering females in the sport

Former pro, Anya Alvarez, says it sums up what’s wrong with coverage of women’s golf

Cheyenne Woods, niece of 14-time major winner Tiger, was named as one of Golf Magazine’s Most Beautiful Women. Photo: David Cannon/Getty Images

Cheyenne Woods, niece of 14-time major winner Tiger, was named as one of Golf Magazine’s Most Beautiful Women. Photo: David Cannon/Getty Images

 

Golf Magazine recently ran its annual feature, the The Most Beautiful Women in Golf, an inspiring and stunning read about women who have impacted the golf industry with just their looks alone.

A couple of professional golfers were scattered into the mix, such as LPGA pros Danielle Kang, Cheyenne Woods, Belen Mozo, and sisters Jessica and Nelly Korda.

Then came the captivating photos of Julie Crenshaw, wife of former PGA Tour player Ben Crenshaw. Julie was described as “waiting to embrace [Ben]behind the 18th green” when he played in his final Masters tournament, as any good wife should do. Former Miss America, Kira Kasantsev made her debut in the spread, quoted as an “avid golfer”. And Holly Sonders, who is an NFL sideline and golf reporter, made her fourth appearance in a row, wearing the perfect golf attire: a bikini.

What is further disappointing about the spread is that the golf pros showcased are dynamic young women, with talents and interests far more captivating than their looks. For instance, Woods is active in the charity Golf Fore Africa, whose main goal is to provide clean drinking water on the continent. Kang is an avid photographer who also maintains a lifestyle blog with fellow tour player Michelle Wie, which gives an inside look at the lives of professional golfers.

Golf media has a complicated relationship with women: it simply does not know what to do with them. Golf Magazine, Golf Digest and the Golf Channel are all guilty of reducing women to their looks alone. Women Crush Wednesday was a regular feature on the Golf Channel website, highlighting aspiring female golfer pros with racy Instagram accounts; Golf Digest has only had 23 women on its cover in its 66-year history (nine of those covers were shared with men, and three were given to non-golf pros: Sonders, social media starlet Paulina Gretzky and model Kate Upton); Golf Magazine shares the same problem of rarely featuring female pros on its cover and usually gives them coverage when the focus is on physical beauty, rather than athletic accomplishments.

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 per cent 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 per cent 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.

Before I played on tour though, I saw firsthand how the golf media uses women as props. I competed on a reality TV show, The Big Break, on the Golf Channel. Think of it as a survivor of the fittest for golfers, who participate in a series of challenges to move on from show to show.

When filming began one thing was transparent: a couple of the women were selected not for their talents, but rather their physical attributes. The women were asked to don bikinis and lie on their back and tummies; one young woman twirled around a palm tree.

The most sexed up they tried to make me involved a spray tan, which in turn made me look like a golfer on Jersey Shore.

As well as reinforcing my belief that playing golf in a bikini does not look comfortable, my experience on The Big Break also made me determined to fight for better and equal coverage for my fellow female golfers. So while golf media continues to ignore the women in the sport who are compelling beyond their beauty, I’ve compiled a shortlist of women who are making moves in the male dominated world. All while wearing business suits and golf attire.

Aubrey McCormick & Gina Rizzi

McCormick is a former professional golfer, who has used her contacts to foster conversation surrounding sustainability. Rizzi is president of Arcus Marketing Group LLC, a firm that focuses on social responsibility and environmental sustainability.

Together they founded IMPACT360 Sports, which looks to drive impact on environmental, social and economic sustainability through sports. Most recently they landed a contract with the Olympic Club in San Francisco, which will host the women’s US Open in 2021.

Annika Sorenstam

Sorenstam is arguably the most successful female golfer on and off the course. During her time as a professional, she won 89 tournaments and became the second woman to play in a PGA Tour tournament, at the Colonial Invitational in 2003.

Outside of her playing days, Sorenstam has completed three golf courses through her business ANNIKA Course Design; became a 50 per cent owner in Capillary Concrete, which helps reduce water usage on golf courses; developed a high-end golf clothing line called the ANNIKA Collection; and opened the ANNIKA Academy, which has helped produced some of the junior golfers in the United States.

Tiffany Mack Fitzgerald

Tiffany Mack Fitzgerald is on a mission to get more African American women on the golf course. Having spent more than 20 years in corporate America, she understood the role golf played in building successful professional relationships. In 2013 she founded Black Girls Golf, an organization that provides news, information and clinics for women who are interested in learning, practicing, and playing. In four years, Black Girls Golf has grown to a community of nearly 3,000 members in 33 states and Canada.

Diana Murphy

In 2016 Murphy became the second woman to serve as president of the United States Golf Association in its 122 year history. As president she assumed the leadership role to serve over 300 professional staff, and 1,200 volunteers. While her lasting impact remains to seen, her leadership at one of the largest golf organizations shows golf is slowly changing – and so should the coverage.

Anya Alvarez is a former professional on the LPGA Tour, based in Washington DC. She now writes on gender and politics in sports.

(Guardian service)

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