RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – With a provocative pose, Paulina Gretzky will be the cover girl in the upcoming issue of Golf Digest.
That doesn't sit well with some LPGA tour stars.
Gretzky isn't a professional golfer but is engaged to one – PGA Tour star Dustin Johnson. Gretzky, the daughter of hockey icon Wayne Gretzky and former actress Janet Jones Gretzky, demonstrates six golf-improvement exercises for the issue and talks about her connections in the sports world. A tablet edition is available April 8, while the magazine hits newsstands April 15.
The last three women to appear on the cover have been Golf Channel anchor and personality Holly Sonders (May 2013), Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue cover girl Kate Upton, who appeared with Arnold Palmer (December 2013), and Gretzky. Lorena Ochoa was the last player to appear on the cover – in 2008.
"That's just been the way it is for over 20, 30 years," world No. 1 Inbee Park told reporters on Thursday after her round in the Kraft Nabisco Championship. "We are trying to get closer to the guys (in popularity), but obviously we are never going to get there. That's for sure. The LPGA is getting better and better."
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Stacy Lewis, the top-ranked American at No. 3 in the world, was asked by a New York Times reporter what she thought of the choice.
"It's frustrating for female golfers," Lewis told reporters. "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."
Angela Stanford agreed. The veteran from Texas has been playing golf on a professional level since 1990 but wasn't surprised when told of the Gretzky cover.
"The question is who are they trying to sell to?" Stanford said. "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."
Gretzky's appearance will be the 21st time a woman has appeared on the cover since the magazine started printing in 1950. The first women to appear on the cover were on an issue in 1969. Since then, players such as Jane Blalock (three times), Nancy Lopez (three times), Annika Sorenstam, Ochoa, Juli Inkster and Se Ri Pak have been on the cover.
"Sports figures, celebrities and models have appeared on Golf Digest covers since the magazine's beginning. Paulina ranks at the high end of the golf celebrity scene today, and she has a compelling story to tell," editor in chief Jerry Tarde said in a statement. "She also might get some new people interested in the game."