Paulina Gretzky isn’t a professional golfer. Her connection to the golf world is as the fiance of PGA player Dustin Johnson.
Apparently that was good enough for Golf Digest magazine to put the scantily clad 25-year-old daughter of NHL legend Wayne Gretzky on the cover of an upcoming edition that hits tablets on April 8 and newsstands April 15.
“Sports figures, celebrities and models have appeared on Golf Digest covers since the magazine’s beginning,” Golf Digest editor in chief Jerry Tarde said in an online article defending the cover. “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.”
You know who haven’t appeared on Golf Digest covers much? Women who actually play golf for a living.
The last LPGA golfer to appear on the cover was Lorena Ochoa in 2008. Golf Channel personality Holly Sonders and model Kate Upton (posing with Arnold Palmer) both landed on the cover in 2013.
That was the same year that world No. 1 Inbee Park won a record-tying three consecutive major championships. (When asked about Gretzky appearing on the Golf Digest cover, the South Korean golfer responded, “Who is that?”)
Some LPGA players aren’t too happy about the situation.
“It’s frustrating for female golfers,” world No. 3 Stacy Lewis said Thursday at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the New York Times reported. “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.”
Fellow LPGA golfer Angela Stanford said in USA Today: “The question is who are they trying to sell to? If the answer is men 25 years old through 45 years old, then I guess that’s what they have to do. You know the old saying, sex sells. And nobody can argue with that. It’s just the way it is. But the LPGA has some attractive women and very fit women, so why not use them? I’m just baffled by it.”
Seven-time major winner Juli Inkster actually appeared on the cover of Golf Digest. Back in 1992. Only 10 other women (including Gretzky and Sonders) have graced the front of the magazine without being accompanied by a man.
“It’s frustrating because it’s Golf Digest; it’s not Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue,” Inkster said, adding: “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? I’m guaranteeing you right now, it was not a woman editor who chose that cover.”