The Master’s golf tournament was a huge success this year with Bubba Watson taking home the big $1,620,000 win for the second time in three years. However, after the success of the world renown tournament, Golf Digest Magazine chose a rather interesting subject for the cover of their May fitness issue. Not a golfer, not a caddy, but rather the girlfriend of golfer Dustin Johnson. Her name is Paulina Gretzky, and she was featured leaning on a golf club wearing a sports bra and tight, white leggings. Clearly Golf Digest took Michael Messner quite literally when he said “If a woman is conventionally attractive and athletically talented or she invokes patriotism, then she can be pulled to the center of sports symbolism.” (110)
Hundreds of disgruntled Golf Digest readers spoke out, tweeted and blogged, protesting the cover does not represent the good taste and dignity that golf is supposed to have. Good taste? I beg to differ. The fact that Golf Digest came up with the idea to use a scantily dressed Paulina Gretzky to sell magazines isn’t half as offensive as the numerous ways the magazine and the sport of golf itself are to women, people of color and people of socioeconomic disadvantage.
The last time Golf Digest Magazine featured a professional woman golfer on the cover was in 2008 with a cover shot of Lauren Ochoa. In fact, women are not fairly represented in this sport. In 2010, there were over fourteen million more males than females participating in the sport. But it isn’t just women. It’s almost everyone who doesn’t fit the cookie-cutter profile of a prominent, upper-class male. Golf’s primary purpose is to serve as an exclusive social club for affluent, white males to create leisure and business relationships. There have been many instances around the United States of country clubs resisting the admittance of members on account of race and religion. Just this year, the Dallas Country Club in Dallas, Texas admitted their first black member. The Dallas Country Club is private, thus having control over whom they choose to admit. People argue, sure people of color play golf, just look at Tiger Woods. Ok. I’ll give you that one. Now name another?
In addition to the sport lacking racial diversity, golf also lacks players who hold religious beliefs other than in Christianity, specifically, Jews. Many Country Clubs and golf clubs have had a history of excluding Jews that have attempted to join. It has only been recently that some clubs have started to admit Jews. In fact, many Jews have had to start their own country clubs to elude bigotry in the past.
In addition to golf’s many discriminations, it also happens to be one of the least environmentally friendly sports on the planet. Golf courses are made up of acres of heavily watered land, and thus take up a disproportionate amount of water. Further, they are drenched in insecticides, which are harmful to the health of humans, and animals who ingest them.
In summary, I’m not a huge fan of golf, so congratulations to Golf Digest for figuring out a way to make the sport more interesting!