LPGA commissioner Michael Whan said he was frustrated and disappointed that Paulina Gretzky was splashed across the cover of this month’s Golf Digest and in their featured spreads in the magazine.
“Obviously we’re disappointed and frustrated by the editorial direction (and timing) Golf Digest has chosen with the announcement of its most recent magazine cover,” he said. “If a magazine called Golf Digest is interested in showcasing females in the game, yet consistently steers away from the true superstars who’ve made history over the last few years, something is clearly wrong.”
He noted that Inbee Park won 3-straight major championships in 2013 and Stacy Lewis, in 2012, became the “first American to win Rolex Player of the Year since 1994.” He mentioned Lexi Thompson, who is tied for the lead with Michelle Wie in the year’s first major, and Lydia Ko have set “historical benchmarks while blossoming as the Tour’s youngest ever champions.”
“And evidently, not one has been ‘cover worthy’ for Golf Digest,” he added. “‘Growing the game’ means a need for more role models and in these exciting times for women’s golf, the LPGA is overflowing with them. At this point, I’m done talking about it and I hope the attention of the media and fans will shift in the proper direction.”
LPGA player Angela Stanford told reporters that she understood that sex sells but noted that there are plenty of attractive women on the LPGA tour.
Golfers such as Natalie Gulbis, Paula Creamer, Michelle Wie, and Lexi Thompson could sell plenty of covers even if they are not in bikinis.
Lewis told reporters on Thursday that having Gretzky, who is engaged to PGA pro Dustin Johnson, on the cover was disrespectful to the accomplishments of female golfers.
“It’s frustrating for female golfers,” Stacy Lewis told the New York Times after the first round. “It’s the state of where we’ve always been. We don’t get the respect for being the golfers we are.
“Obviously, Golf Digest is trying to sell magazines, but at the same time you like to see a little respect for the women’s game.”
The LPGA on Sunday has a dynamic final round for the year’s first major as Americans Michelle Wie and Lexi Thompson, who are tied, are in the final pairing as they both look for their first major at the Kraft Championship. Wie and Thompson are blockbuster players who have the potential, like Gretzky has done for Golf Digest, to bring in new viewers to the sport if they win majors.
Photos courtesy Golf Digest.