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The Loop

The overwhelming, and mixed, reaction to our Paulina Gretzky cover

April 04, 2014

The May issue of Golf Digest is generating a great deal of buzz, both positive and negative, from people who regularly report on golf and those who rarely (if ever) do.


Here's a quick roundup:

The New York Times reported that the cover spurred criticism from LPGA Tour pros. This report led to similar reaction pieces by the New York Post, Mashable, Golf Channel, Deadspin, Business Insider and SB Nation.

"It's frustrating because it's Golf Digest; it's not Sports Illustrated's swimsuit issue," Juli Inkster told the New York Times. "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."

Yahoo Sports, which began by reporting the negative backlash from LPGA Tour players, ended by stating that, "There is LPGA coverage inside Golf Digest. And having Paulina Gretzky on the cover would increase the likelihood that someone that doesn't pick up Golf Digest on the regular might do so. Which means good things for golf's exposure."

Co-hosts on Good Morning America spent nearly a minute talking about the cover on Friday morning.

ESPN's First Take showcased the cover on air Friday morning and talked about it for 10 minutes, going back and forth about the cover's merits. Journalists Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith addressed the LPGA players' concerns but defended Golf Digest's choice. "What Golf Digest did was pique your interest," Smith said.

On ESPN Radio's Mike & Mike program, Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic spent six minutes Friday morning weighing the pros and cons of the cover.

Co-hosts on the Golf Channel's Morning Drive Friday morning also debated Gretzky's appearance.

Bleacher Report reported, "Others who usually ignore the LPGA might now be interested."

GQ declared it the "sexiest Golf Digest cover ever."

Adweek highlighted the positive and negative reaction generated by the cover.

Perez Hilton stated that Golf Digest "does the impossible and makes golf sexy!"

Us Weekly, a general-interest publication whose readership in large part has no prior interest in golf, featured the Golf Digest cover.

The New York Daily News devoted an entire spread in the newspaper's Friday issue to the Golf Digest cover.

FOX News showcased the cover and asked, "What is the non-golf expert doing on the cover of a magazine about the sport?" Then followed up with, "Hey, we're not complaining."

USA Today reported that the world would probably "rather look at Gretzky on the cover as opposed to [John Daly]".

E! Online featured the cover and supported it with quotes from Paulina Gretzky, pulled from Golf Digest's May feature article.

Update: LPGA Commisioner Mike Whan issued this statement about the Paulina cover on Friday night:

Obviously we're disappointed and frustrated by the editorial direction (and timing) Golf Digest has chosen with the announcement of its most recent magazine cover.__ If a magazine called Golf Digest is interested in showcasing females in the game, yet consistently steers away from the true superstars who've made history over the last few years, something is clearly wrong. Inbee Park wins 3-straight major championships in 2013.  Stacy Lewis, in 2012, becomes the first American to win Rolex Player of the Year since 1994.  Lexi Thompson and Lydia Ko set historical benchmarks while blossoming as the Tour's youngest ever champions.  And evidently, not one has been "cover worthy" for Golf Digest.  "Growing the game" means a need for more role models and in these exciting times for women's golf, the LPGA is overflowing with them. __At this point, I'm done talking about it and I hope the attention of the media and fans will shift in the proper direction.  The true stars representing women's golf have a grand stage this weekend at the Kraft Nabisco Championship.  I'm confident that the year's first major championship will result in another compelling champion and the traditional Sunday leap into Poppie's Pond will grab the media spotlight it so deserves. ------

And here is a small sample of reaction it generated on Twitter:

Dustin Johnson's fiancée Paulina Gretzky lands a Golf Digest cover

— darren rovell (@darrenrovell) April 3, 2014

Come on @ESPN_Colin! The sex appeal isn't the issue. What does Paulina Gretzky have to do with golf? Plays sometimes? Sleeps w a golfer?

— Michelle Beadle (@MichelleDBeadle) April 4, 2014

Totally understand why LPGA players are upset w/ @GolfDigestMag for not putting @LPGA pros on the cover. They deserve to be promoted

— Nolan Shulman (@nolanshulman) April 4, 2014

I have so many thoughts on the new Golf Digest cover, but everyone is talking about it so regardless of controversy, they win.

— Megan Broadway (@Megan_Broadway) April 4, 2014

— ☮Go With The Flow☮ (@HollyHoodRingo) April 4, 2014

People are talking about @GolfDigestMag. Mission accomplished. #sportsbiz #golf

— Scott Soshnick (@soshnick) April 4, 2014

Loving the @PaulinaGretzky @GolfDigestMag cover!!! Great way to attract a new audience to golf!! Love that they are thinking outside the box

— Anna Rawson (@TheAnnaRawson) April 4, 2014

Congratulations @PaulinaGretzky on covering this years fitness issue for @GolfDigestMag...way to carry the torch! #golf #fitness

— Holly Sonders (@HollySondersGC) April 3, 2014