Golfer Paige Spiranac reveals that she got death threats for her choice of clothing on the course
When it comes to sporting controversies, it tends to be the more high-octane sports that steal the headlines.
Russian doping at the Olympics, extortionate salaries and player demands in the NBA, the dangers of concussion in the NFL - these are the sorts of things that frequently splash across the back pages of our daily newspapers. The world of professional golf, however, is a lot more sedate. Non-contact and utterly inoffensive, unless it's about Tiger Woods and his late-night dalliances, you don't normally hear much drama other than the occasional rule break or caddy firing.
So when I read that a female professional golfer had received death threats for her choice of clothing on the course, I was pretty shocked.
In an interview with The Guardian, Spiranac claimed: “I was harassed, my family was harassed,” she says. “I was receiving death threats, people were invading my privacy, I was being blackmailed. This was going on while I was trying to play.”
When she was asked what she had done to provoke such vitriol, Spiranac explained that she wasn't entirely sure. "Because I look different to a golfer, maybe? I dress differently, I don’t conform to what golf is supposed to be," she guessed.
Spiranac has achieved notoriety largely thanks to her Instagram feed, which given a quick glance, is slightly different to that of an average golfer.
Paige believes that part of the reason she has been targeted is her willingness to openly attack the LPGA (Ladies Professional Golf Association) and their new dress code. The controversial new dress code is designed to get players to "present themselves in a professional manner to reflect a positive image for the game," according to a spokesperson. The new dress code banned "plunging necklines" and prohibited any skirts or shorts that show the "bottom area".
Spiranac not only attacked the dress code itself, but in the interview, she also addressed the longer-term ramifications it could have for the sport.
"I love golf. I think it is a great game but I think there are a lot of things that need to change. I think it needs to become more progressive, more inclusive. For me to speak out about that, it does bring on more hate but it also starts a conversation and I can create change. I am just trying to get people to feel more comfortable because I know I’m not alone feeling that way. That’s why people are not getting into golf.”
Despite taking a break from the game, Paige still very much considers herself a pro golfer - regardless what others might think...
“When it comes to the golf industry, I know that people see me as a gimmick. I don’t think I am. If I was a guy and I had the same social following, I don’t think people would call it a gimmick. They’d say it was great.”
While every job can have its rules and regulations (even pro golf), I think Spiranac is well within her rights to fight her corner - and regardless of what you think about her stance, death threats are beyond contemptible. Lock those trolls up and throw away their keyboards.