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LPGA

Pro golfer turning her headstand into a handstand is your Friday motivation

As if you needed another argument to prove that golfers are athletes. Yeah, we all know there are golfers like Tim Herron and Carl Pettersson who might not look like it. But when you understand the golf swing and the biomechanics needed to make an efficient swing -- let alone at a tour level -- you can put any argument to the contrary to rest.

But just in case that's not enough for your buddies, you can show them this video. Carly Booth is a Ladies European Tour player who gained a huge following after appearing in ESPN The Magazine's The Body Issue a couple years ago. She's only 21 and earned her LET card at age 17.

Related: Exclusive photos from our 2015 fitness issue with LPGA pros

All we know is, if you're a golfer and can do a handstand we respect the hell out of you. That's like the 0.01 percent of the golf population. Might as well be a unicorn. 

Anyways, let this be further evidence that golfers are, in fact, athletes.

Headstand to Handstand #fitfam #fitness #fitnessfriday #gym @gymnasticbodies #fitspo #nike #golf

A video posted by Carly Booth (@carlyabooth) on

If that wasn't enough, here's some more Carly Booth looking ripped taking you into the weekend.

Those shoulder blades though! Woo!

I think most golfers will read that and realize their lifestyles are not really geared toward fitness. But Carly Booth is here to motivate us.

OK, this is the mic drop. Nothing anyone can say that this golfer is not an (elite) athlete.

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LPGA

Sophie Gustafson will step aside as a player to become a caddie, at least temporarily

Sophie Gustafson, a five-time winner on the LPGA who has 23 other victories around the world and represented Europe eight times in the Solheim Cup, has decided to walk away from competitive golf -- for now -- but will remain inside the ropes. She'll caddie for American Beth Allen on the Ladies European Tour, a circuit on which Gustafsson was the leading money winner four times.

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Gustafson, a 41-year old Swede who left the LPGA to play the LET full-time last year, has been struggling with her game and is currently No. 88 on the Euro Tour money list. Allen is No. 10 with $59,747 in earnings this year. The 34-year-olf California State-Northridge grad was No. 8 on the 2014 LET money list with $125,000.

“I wanted you to know I’m going to caddie the next 4 weeks on the LET for Beth Allen,” Gustafson said in a text message over the weekend. “Don’t know what’s coming after that. Just know I want to break the pattern and see what gives. I wanted you to know about it before I show up in England on 30 June.”

Gustafson is not the first player who gave up competition to become a pro looper. Meaghan Francella followed a similar path last year, frustrated with her results but not wanting to leave the game she loves.

“I don’t know how long I’m going to do it but I’m sure looking forward to it now,” Gustafson told me. “It’s a weird feeling cause I also feel I have more to give… I just know that what I’m doing isn’t working and I want something to give.”

She ended her text messge with two smily face emojis.

In addition to her golf, Gustafson is known for the severe stutter which she has battled while maintaining the media and fan demands of being a professional golfer. Her decades-long willingness to endure won Gustafson the Ben Hogan Award from the Golf Writers Association of America for overcoming an obstacle to succeed in the game.

Allen, 34, has also made sacricies. In 2011 she donated one of her kidneys to her brother, Dan.

Earlier this year Gustafson made news when she went public about her efforts to help a teenage American boy who was bullied so badly about his stutter that he tried to commit suicide. Gustafson’s advocacy on the boy’s behalf resulted in his getting a personal letter from Tiger Woods and the boy, Dillon, is now in therapy and helpings other kids battle bullying.

In September, Gustafson will be one of the vice captains for Europe when the Solheim Cup is played in Germany. With 16 points, she trails only Laura Davies , Annika Sorenstam and Suzann Pettersen on Europe's all-time scoring list. Clearly, she's someone who loves golf -- and the life of a pro golfer -- so much she never wants to leave it. Her involvement is not ending, just changing. That's truly loving the game.

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LPGA

Video: LPGA players on tour player style, their last download, and why amateurs really just need to relax

We've been on site all week at the inaugural KPMG Women's PGA Championship, and in addition to wanting to see how the best women golfers in the world would handle treacherous Westchester Country Club -- some better than others, apparently -- we also wanted to know a bit more about what makes these women tick.

In the video below, LPGA stars such as Paula Creamer, Cheyenne Woods, and Jessica Korda tell us about the chronic mistakes made by their amateur partners, the latest music on their iPhones, and why some of their counterparts on the men's tour need to pick up the slack in the style department.



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News & Tours

The art of the spray: How the LPGA Tour celebrates in style

If you've watched the LPGA Tour at all, you've probably seen it happen. Odds are, you'll see it again this Sunday.

"It" refers to how LPGA pros treat their winners and it might be what separates the women from the men in golf more than anything. The women shower their victors with praise. Literally.

Win an LPGA Tour event and there's a great chance you're going to walk off the 18th green soaking wet. Lose one, and there's still a good chance you'll be part of the spraying celebration.

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"It's a small little-knit group out here. . . . Somebody's going to always be there for you and it's nice to see everyone come together and root for each other," Brittany Lincicome said. "Any chance I get, if it's a friend and I'm still there, you'll definitely see me out on the green."

Related: I played in an LPGA pro-am and it was amazing

"I think you've got to give to receive. That's always what I live by," Sandra Gal added. "We're always happy for our friends when they win and that shows the spirit of our tour."

LPGA Senior Director of Social Media Tina Barnes-Budd agreed.

"[LPGA Commissioner] Mike Whan's big mantra is 'Hugs, not handshakes.' He wants it to be very fun for the fans," she said. "They all seem to get into it."

Barnes-Budd wasn't sure when the tradition started, but remembered players doing it with beer at the Michelob Ultra Open at Kingsmill, which began in 2003. The oldest photo we could find of that was Cristie Kerr getting doused by Natalie Gulbis and her then boyfriend and now husband Erik Stevens in 2005.

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And here's Se Ri Pak in 2004 at Kingsmill with a trophy full of beer.

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And here's Pak with an empty trophy.

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Wait, did she drink that whole thing?!

But back to the spraying, while no one could give an exact answer as to how it began, most agreed Christina Kim has long been one of the ring leaders of the practice. Here she is drenching Karrie Webb with bubbly at the 2006 Kraft Nabisco. Observe her good form. The precision. The power. Now that's talent.

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Kim says she vaguely remembers seeing LPGA players spraying winners growing up, but couldn't pinpoint a specific event. In other words, she's not the Spraymother as many believe. But as a participant, Kim is somewhat of a purist, only doing it if champagne is involved -- and if the win has special significance.

"Every win is important, but I'm not going to shell out 100 bucks a week just to spray, like, 'Hey, Inbee [Park], this is your 49th win,'" Kim said. "We're going to pitch in for the good stuff. We're not going to spray water."

Related: 10 things men can learn from the LPGA

Others aren't as picky.

"Whatever's available," Gal said. "Obviously, you want it to be champagne. Sometimes it's beer, which is not very good. If everything fails, then water."

Booooo water.

"I remember after my first win I did not get sprayed and I was so bummed," Brittany Lincicome said. "And then every time after that, I've been sprayed. I'd take anything. I love it. We even used shaving cream in the Bahamas."

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Gal went as far to take the tradition to the guys last year when countryman Martin Kaymer won the U.S. Open at Pinehurst, where the U.S. Women's Open was contested the following week.

"It was just an impromptu thing," Gal said. "I never thought twice when I went on the green to spray Martin. And then I realized, 'Oh, the guys don't do it. Oops, sorry!' and I apologized to him, but I was just so excited."

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Unfortunately, it hasn't caught on yet on the PGA Tour.

Inbee Park combined two traditions after winning the ANA Inspiration in 2013. Park made the winner's leap into Poppy's Pond, but because her father couldn't be at the tournament, she bottled up some of that water and dumped it on him when she saw him next. Hope she gave him fair warning.

Gal and others thought the Koreans on tour might have started the spray, and considering how much they've won in recent years, that's an easy conclusion to come draw. But Park doesn't think so.

"It was already there when I got on tour so I just thought that's how it's always been," Park said. "It's just a fun way to congratulate each other. When you get something like that, you try to wait for your friend and you do it for them as well. It builds good friendships."

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But what if a minor like Lydia Ko is involved?

"We probably should use water," Lincicome laughed.

Kim added, "At the CME, Octagon brought a case out. I said, 'That better be sparkling cider, because [Lydia Ko] can't drink yet.'"

It wasn't.

"But we kept it neck down." And the photos seem to back that up. Again, Kim has mastered this art over the past decade.

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Not that Ko, despite her initial surprised reaction, seemed to mind the champagne shower.

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"It was definitely a special moment and I was so glad to share that moment with amazing girls," Ko said. We hope she shared that bottle too. . .

So how does one round up a spray crew at the end of a tournament?

"It's just 'Hey, champagne!' And we've got to go find some somewhere," Kim said.

Sounds like a plan. No glasses necessary.

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Golf & Business

Stacy Lewis shows she's as savvy about business as she is about golf

HARRISON, N.Y. -- Sometimes the stars simply align perfectly. The key component of the KPMG Women's PGA Championship that got the company on board as the corporate sponsor the revamped women's major was the Inspire Greatness conference Wednesday at Westchester C.C., which focused on empowering women in the workplace. And what better representative of both athletic and business success is there than Stacy Lewis, the top-ranked American player and the LPGA member with the most lucrative endorsement deals.

Oh, and Lewis, along with Phil Mickelson, are the only two golfers who are brand ambassadors for KPMG.

Lewis was the highest-ranked woman on the 2015 Golf Digest 50 All-Encompassing Money List at No. 41, earning $3.9 million off the golf course to go with $2,720,750 on it for a total of $6,620,750. Michelle Wie at No. 42 and Paula Creamer at No. 47 were the only other women in the top 50.

Related: The Annual Golf Digest 50 Money List

In addition to KPMG, Lewis has an impressive roster of endorsement partners: Mizuno, Pure Silk, Marathon, Omega, Antigua, Manulife, VedaloHD, Bridgestone Golf, FootJoy and AimPoint. And as proof of the maxim that a rising tide lifts all boats, KPMG, Pure Silk, Marathon and Manulife have been enticed to not only support Lewis but LPGA tournaments as well.

"We went to our business partners and said, 'This is how you can entertain your clients at LPGA events,' " Lewis, who is represented by Sterling Sports Management, told GolfDigest.com Wednesday at the KPMG Women's PGA Championship. "I wanted them to be involved not just with me but with the LPGA."

With her success -- a dozen LPGA wins including two major championships and Player of the Year two of the last three years -- Lewis has found the challenges of a raised profile. Each endorsement deal brings with it a two- or three-day time commitment each year for corporate activities. Time management becomes crucial.

"Everyone wants to have your time in the summer, but we've learned to spread things out throughout the year," Lewis said.

As for more endorsement deals?

"We've had offers," Lewis said. "But I don't have three more days."

Now there's a great problem for a female athlete: having too many business offers.

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LPGA

Here's your chance to win a pro-am spot in the LPGA Tour's next major

Men can learn a lot from women, both on the course and off. Recently, we outlined 10 things men can learn from LPGA players, and now we want to hear from you: What can men learn from women golfers? Your answer could earn you a spot in the pro-am of the LPGA Tour’s next major championship.

Here’s how to win:

1. Write your answer (in one to six words) on a piece of paper.

2. Have someone take of photo of you holding that piece of paper (make sure you get permission from the photographer to use the photo in this sweepstakes).

3. Share that photo via Twitter or Instagram with the hashtags #LearnFromAWoman and #GolfDigestSweepsEntry.  

Here's Jack Nicklaus' answer (technically, he used seven words, but we make exceptions for 18-time major champions):

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And here's an example of the kind of message/image I would post:

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The sweepstakes begins at 10 am ET on Wednesday, May 13, 2015 and ends at 10 am ET on Monday, May 18, 2015. We will contact the grand-prize winner on Tuesday, May 19. If the winner doesn’t respond within four (4) hours, we will randomly select another winner.  Must be a legal resident of the 50 U.S. states/Washington, D.C. and 21 to enter. Click here for the full rules, including an alternate method of entry.

The grand-prize winner gets a pro-am hospitality package to the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, which will be held at Westchester Country Club in Rye, N.Y., from June 8 through June 14, 2015. The package includes: A seat at the “draw party” on the evening of June 8 where amateurs will be paired with LPGA professionals; a spot in the 18-hole pro-am on Tuesday, June 9, which will take place on the West Course at Westchester Country Club; a seat at the awards reception on the evening of June 9; Tuesday and Wednesday grounds tickets for the winner and a guest; and Thursday through Sunday hospitality tickets for the winner and a guest, which includes access to the champions club. This grand prize is valued at $6,000. Note that transportation and accommodations are not included. We must receive a fully-executed affidavit and release from the winner within twenty-four (24) hours from the date/time we contact you in order to award the prize.

Along with one grand-prize winner, 10 runners-up will win an annual Golf Digest subscription.  

So go ahead and tell us what men can learn from women. It might lead to a dream week with the world’s greatest female golfers.

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LPGA

The heartbreaking story of Sophie Gustafson and a fellow stutterer, and what she's doing to help him

One of the bravest people I know is my friend Sophie Gustafson who, despite a severe stutter, has carved out a two-decade career in the very public life of professional golf. Talented, smart, funny and beautiful, she’s a perfect marketing machine for women’s golf, and for her own personal brand -- except for that damn stutter.

Still, she’s waded through media interviews, pro-am rounds and victory speeches to win five times on the LPGA, 16 more on the Ladies European Tour and has represented Europe eight times in the Solhiem Cup.

Several years ago, I had the honor of presenting her with the Ben Hogan Award, voted on by the Golf Writers Association of America for a person in golf who overcame adversity.

Knowing Sophie, it came as no surprise when she confided in me that she has been mentoring a high school boy about his battles with a stutter. It also came as no surprise that Sophie had not told me about her good deed because acts of kindness are simply who Sophie is.

But it broke my heart when she revealed that the teen she is helping had tried to take his life, the victim of bullying by his classmates.

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“I keep re-reading his mum's email to me and trying to figure out the best way to go about helping the kid,” Sophie wrote. “The mum asked me if there is anyone I knew that could help share his story. You are a journalist and a writer but I'm not sure how much of a story it is. A kid that's different and that gets teased is happening every day, everywhere.”

(Pictured: Gustafson with Sirak) 

Yes, Sophie, kids everywhere that are different do get teased and bullying is an issue that is just now getting the attention it deserves. That is exactly why we must tell this story.

Sophie shared with me the email she received from the boy's mother.

“Wanted to give you update,” the Mom wrote. “Things had been going well for awhile. He played football for the first time this year, however, he was teased about his stuttering and quit the team. He has really been struggling lately, feeling lonely due to the really does not have any close friends.”

She continued:

“On the week of April 16th, he had a bad week, he had been teased about his stuttering. That evening, he attempted suicide. He yelled downstairs 'Good bye, I love you.' Me and my husband immediately ran upstairs, his bedroom door was locked, we busted down the door and he was sitting on the window and was getting ready to jump. We were able to grab him and keep him from going head first onto the concrete below.”

As a parent who had to tell his then 7-year-old daughter that her mother would not be coming home from the hospital, I know all too well that feeling of helplessness when you want to make the world better and safer for your child.

“It breaks my heart that he is so lonely and continues to get teased about his stuttering,” the Mom wrote. “I am writing to ask you, do you have anyone that could help us share his story and help us find something to encourage him and help him see that he has a positive future?”

Maybe that’s me. Maybe I can give a voice to this boy and millions of others like him who are the victims of bullying. Maybe that is why Sophie came into my life a dozen years ago.

I’ve sat in restaurants and bars with Sophie and watched as she insists on ordering herself. And I’ve watched the expressions on the faces of the servers as they concentrate on her words, some more patiently than others.

But Sophie was always going to do it her way, on her own. There is no better role model for a youngster struggling with a stutter and bullying than Sophie Gustafson.

“He continues to love to watch golf and is still a fan of Tiger,” the Mom wrote. “Is there anyway we could get his story to Tiger and see if he could help find something encouraging for [him] to look forward to?”

Yes, I will make certain Tiger knows this boy is a fan.

“I am just devastated by this and do not know where to turn next,” the Mom said. “I never thought [he] would attempt suicide, but he told me he feels worthless and small when kids say things to him.”

I’m very proud of Sophie, and very grateful that she shared this story with me. Golf cannot change the world, but golfers can.

Bullying is a serious problem. Join Sophie and me in shouting with one united, clear voice that we will not tolerate our children being treated that way.

Let’s give this boy, and millions like him, something to look forward to.

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LPGA

LPGA Player Danielle Kang live-tweeted while a man threatened her life while at dinner

Danielle Kang, a two-time US Amateur winner, had a tough day on the course Saturday at the ANA Inspiration LPGA Tournament, shooting 77. Her night, however, got even worse.

She was out to dinner with her mom and a friend at a sushi restaurant when her table was approached by two men who began yelling at her for her bad play, threatening to kill her. The Golf Channel reports that Kang said the men were waiting for her outside of the restaurant, where they continued their threats. At that point, Kang called the police, but unfortunately the men had already left by the time the police arrived. A police escort safely delivered her to her hotel. She live-tweeted the whole situation:

Security detail followed Kang during her final round. She handled all of the stress beautifully, though: She closed with a 67 on Sunday.

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LPGA

Lydia Ko secretly got a wrist tattoo with the date of her first professional win on it

In case anyone forgot, the world number one on the women's side of the professional golf world is Lydia Ko. And she's 17, which is awesome. (Don't think about what you were doing when you were 17 -- that'll just make us all start feeling bad.) 

The most recent demonstration of her age happened at a tattoo parlor. It's tough to see if you're not looking closely, but on Ko's right wrist is a string of Roman Numerals. 

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After having previously asked the media to not talk about the tattoo, Ko came out after her win at the ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open and revealed it is the date of her first win as a professional: April 27, 2014. The win was at the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic in San Francisco. 

We're not sure where she got it done, but it's pretty common to have to be over 18 to get a tattoo. Ko was 16 at the time, so she needed her parents' consent. 

"My parents were there, and I felt like it was a very memorable win so I got that tatted up," she told Golfweek on Monday.

Ko isn't the only professional golfer who has a tattoo, but we're guessing she's one of the few needing her parents' permission to get it.

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Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday: A 70th birthday salute to Judy Rankin

One of the all-time special people in golf had a milestone birthday this week: Judy Rankin turned 70 on Feb. 18. At an age when most people are fortunate to be enjoying retirement, Rankin is still a visible presence in what could be gauged as the fourth stage of her multi-faceted golf career.

Stage 1 was Judy as Judy Torluemke from St. Louis, a junior phenom who started playing the game at 6, was winning Pee Wee tournaments at 8 and the Missouri Amateur at ages 14 and 16. She was a 15-year-old low amateur at the 1960 U.S. Women's Open and lost in the second round of the 1961 British Ladies Amateur at Carnoustie at 16. 

loop-torluemke-table-560.jpgStage 2 was Judy Torluemke the LPGA Tour player, having turned pro as a teen in 1962. 

Stage 3 was Judy as Judy Rankin, Texan, having married Walter (Yippy) Rankin in June 1967 and residing in Midland. She won her first of 26 LPGA titles in 1968, her last coming in 1979. She won the 1976 Dinah Shore and the 1977 Peter Jackson Classic before they were designated as majors. During her career Rankin was a consistent performer who, perhaps because of her slight 5-foot-3, 110-pound frame, was perceived as an underdog. She also had a distinctive swing technique in order to get as much power as she could delivered to the ball. She turned her left-hand well to the right on the grip and had a markedly delayed lag on the downswing. She was deadly with her medium irons and fairway woods, clubs she used often for approach shots. 

loop-throwback-rankin-older-275.jpgIn 1976, she did on the LPGA Tour what Arnold Palmer did on the PGA Tour by being the first to eclipse $100,000 in prize money in a single season, bolstered by six victories. Twice she was LPGA Player of the Year and three times she won the Vare Trophy for lowest scoring average. In the 1977 season she set a record with 25 top-10 finishes. On the down side, she was just 4-12 for her career in playoffs. 

Stage 4 is still ongoing with Judy Rankin serving as golf ambassador and TV analyst. After winding down her playing career in 1983 at age 38 following chronic back injuries, Rankin has been the go-to person for a woman's perspective on golf issues. Her well-rounded vision and delivery made her ideal for print and television. She authored six articles for Golf Digest on instruction topics. 

Having served on various LPGA player and executive boards as a player, Rankin retained a strong interest in the game's health from outside the ropes. Because of her ability to explore issues from all angles and relate what a player is seeing and thinking on the course, she was one of the first if not the first woman to be used on telecasts of men's events on TV, working for ABC, ESPN and Golf Channel. For many years she was on-course reporter, with partner Bob Rosburg.

Rankin captained the winning 1996 and 1998 U.S. Solheim Cup teams, and in 2000 was voted into the World Golf Hall of Fame, the first LPGA player to get in via the Veterans Category.

Rankin told Bob Verdi for Golf Digest in 1998 that she is "a wild idea person." Let's hope they keep on coming. 

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