Paulina Gretzky and Golf Digest
April 21, 2014
By Dan Daly
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"I've got money from the pelican bet, let's go somewhere fancy and celebrate."
"I'm a Waffle House guy…Gotta stay in touch with that."
I'll give Bubba credit for one thing, he certainly impressed me with his Masters Victory dinner selection in honor of the great Roy McAvoy last Sunday night.
Bubba Watson may have won the Mastersbut my man John Daly still made CNN Masters week…that has to count for something right?
I said last week that the 2014 Masters would be the lowest rated Masters in 20 years; turns out I was wrong...it was the lowest rated Masters in 21 years.
On the PGA Tour this week, Matt Kuchar blew another lead at Harbour Town, got it back, tried desperately to lose it again and then won with a miraculous hole-out from the bunker on the 72nd hole. Furyk of course also held the lead at the halfway mark and then promptly faded as fast as possible. And then there was the man, the myth, the legend that is Miguel Angel Jimenez. In his Senior PGA Tour debut, all he did was lead wire to wire to solidify the fact that like a great bottle of wine he only gets better with age. In fact, he broke two course records this weekend on courses he didn't even play.
While I would love to talk more about the most interesting man in the world or how Matt Kuchar finally stopped taking advice from Jim Furyk, I want to circle back to something from weeks ago.
Three weeks ago Golf Digest finally took my advice and put Paulina Gretzky on its cover dressed in the 8th wonder of the world (yoga pants) and a tube top. Then they stuck a golf club in her hand since it's Golf Digest…and the world almost exploded. Or more specifically, the LPGA Tour, Martha Burke's head and every feminist on the planet.
Here's where my confusion begins…Paulina Gretzky is a model by trade. Laugh if you want, but that is her technical profession. Trust me. As such, her job is to book modeling gigs. Golf Digest is a magazine, in a dying industry no less, whose sole purpose is to…wait for it…sell magazines. Their target audience is males age 20-60, and in breaking news males age 20-60 like hot girls in yoga pants and tube tops. So in the words of the great philosopher Michael Scott, this was what we call a win-win-win. Someone much smarter than me is going to have to explain how this is insulting to women or more specifically LPGA Tour golfers?
Since I don't really know anyone smarter than me, I figure I would go ahead break this down a little further.
Two-time LPGA major winner Stacy Lewis said, "It's frustrating for female golfers. It's kind of the state of where we've always been. We don't get respect for being the golfers that we are. Obviously, Golf Digest is trying to sell magazines. But at the same time you'd like to see a little respect for the women's game."
Stacy, how does Gretzky being on the cover of Golf Digest have anything to do with respect for the "women's game?" As you said, Golf Digest is trying to sell magazines, so let me ask you a question Stacy. If your average 35-year old man is walking through an airport and sees you or Paulina Gretzky on the cover, which version is said guy more likely to buy? The one they just published for that very reason. Again, their job is to sell magazines, not grow the game of golf, and certainly not grow women's golf.
Retired LPGA player Juli Inkster said, "It's frustrating because it's Golf Digest; it's not Sports Illustrated's swimsuit issue." Well, she was in yoga pants and a tube top holding a golf club, not a swimsuit. And Juli, guess what the highest selling Sports Illustrated issue of the year is?
Inkster went on to say, "I think they should maybe recognize some of the great women golfers that we have. It's like, 'What do you have to do to get a little respect?" Ummm, put on a better product on TV? People tell me it's gotten better the last few years but I will just have to take their word for it. There is a reason the last LPGA Tour player to appear on the cover was Loren Ochoa in 2008. No one watches LPGA golf because it's a bad product, plain and simple. That's not my opinion, that's a fact backed up by numbers and statistics. Well, actually that is my opinion as well. I love golf, and would be happy to watch women's golf, but it's honestly unwatchable at least 95% of the time. Hence, Golf Digest knows no one would buy a magazine with an LPGA player on it.
I finally thought an LPGA player got it when Angela Stanford said, "You know the old saying, sex sells, and nobody can argue with that. It's just the way it is." But then I read the rest of her quote. "But the LPGA has some attractive women and very fit women, so why not use them? I'm just baffled by it." Well, let me un-baffle you Angela. Golf Digest doesn't use them because it's not just being sexy, it's being sexy and relevant. In the entire history of the LPGA tour I would say there are a total of about 10-15 players that are recognizable by the average golf fan and about 3 that are recognizable by the average sports fan in general. So unless Annika plays in another PGA Tour event or Michelle Wie wants to grace the cover in a bikini, I think you are shit out of luck.
There is a reason Kate Upton (who appeared with Arnold Palmer) and Holly Sonders have graced the cover of Golf Digest since the last LPGA tour player did. They are both sexy AND relevant. I have nothing against women, or women golfers. I have a daughter and if she elects to play golf I am all for it and will love it, but I am also a realist. The fact is that the LPGA tour is not relatable, identifiable or entertaining to the average golf or sports fan and the ratings reflect that. Same goes for the WNBA, and quite a few Men's sports for that matter. Hell, the Masters had its lowest rating in 21 years because it wasn't as interesting this year. If you put an entertaining and relevant product out there Golf Digest will put your players on the cover. Golf Digest and CBS put Tiger, Phil and Rory on TV and on their covers more than anyone else because sales and the ratings prove that's what people want.
Golf Digest, which bills itself as "the authority on how to play, what to play and where to play," has explained that as the fiancée of PGA Tour pro Dustin Johnson, Gretzky is a major celebrity in the golf world and thereby qualifies the recognition of a cover story. "Sports figures, celebrities and models have appeared on Golf Digest covers since the magazine's beginning," the publication's editor in chief, Jerry Tarde, says in a statement. "Paulina ranks at the high end of the golf celebrity scene today, and she has a compelling story to tell. She also might get some new people interested in the game."
While I agree with everything the magazine has said in defending themselves since the issue was released, what I don't understand is WHY they are having to defend themselves in the first place? They didn't put anything offensive, racial or sexist on their cover. They put a very attractive, recognizable fiancé of a very good and recognizable PGA Tour player on their cover and sold a shit ton of magazines as a result. It's called good business…good for them.
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