Among sports enthusiasts, golf is rarely seen as a serious sport, and the golf course is rarely seen as a place where people compete to win trophies.
Instead, golf is often regarded as a rich man's sport; a place where business deals are made and men fraternize in their retirement days. It's perhaps safe to say that golf, unlike other sports like soccer or tennis, strictly remains a man's game where the course offers a chance to talk about men's problems. So where does a woman figure in this game?
That's what Paige Spiranac is also figuring out. The 24-year-old golfer is a professional at the sport but has become a subject of intense social media backlash for being too glamorous and too good looking for a sport that's synonymous with aging men. In fact, she was trolled on the internet two years ago when she was invited to play at Dubai's LET Tour.
The American sportswoman opened up about her journey after appearing on the Sports Illustrated's Swimsuit Edition 2018. She was all of 22 when she got a chance to debut at the Dubai Ladies Masters. In her words, she was invited by the organizers in order to create awareness of women's presence in golf. Paige felt the opportunity was "too good to pass up." So she traveled to Dubai and then the backlash began.
She was slut-shamed online; people attacked her for showing off her "assets" on the golf course. Paige was trolled for being more of a social media influencer who became famous after a golf video went viral. Nothing about her deemed her as a serious sportsperson. And the hate really got to her. The day before the event, she found herself crying in the bathroom in her hotel room.
"It really affected me. was sitting in the bathroom just balling and was like ‘I don’t want to go through this pain, this feeling of helplessness. Being alone. Scared. And I said I never wanted anyone to feel the way I felt in that moment. How scared I was. How helpless I felt in that I was bullied so bad to the point that I didn’t want to live anymore,'" she told Sports Illustrated.
However, two years have passed since then and she's overcome the hate which she faced earlier. Now, she's part of Cybersmile, a nonprofit organization that works towards dealing with cyberbullying.
Although many believe that she's sexualizing golf, she's still taking part in golf tournaments and has a strong Twitter presence. She recently tweeted, "I dislike these discussions on if certain people are good/bad for golf. It’s wrong to think only one type of person can have an impact in the community. Golf is game anyone can play and teaches us so many great lessons. Let’s make golf more inclusive."
And good for her. Sports, after all, can be glamorous.
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