Popular professional golfer Paige Spiranac, as many of you are aware, has made a name for herself thanks to being pretty good at golf and having a huge social media following.
However, it has apparently come at a rather high cost for the 24-year-old San Diego State University grad. Spiranac says that she has received death threats, been blackmailed and harassed for just playing in a tournament.
In 2015 and 2016, Spiranac was invited to play in the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters on the Ladies European Tour. She missed the cut both times, but detailed to The Guardian what a circus the events became and the threats she received just for participating.
“I had a really rough go of it both times I was here,” she says. “There was a lot of media, it was really stressful and I found the experience really hard. I said I wasn’t coming back to play.
“People seem to think I got where I am because of the clothes that I wear. That’s unfair to me and unfair to all of my accomplishments. I probably do more community service than any other professional golfer. For people to say: ‘You only show some cleavage, that’s why you have what you have,’ is unfair. That’s the injustice that we face every day as women and I see it a lot in golf.”
Her experience playing in Dubai proved a sign of more ominous things to come as public profile and personal life overlapped and she was targeted on the very social media platforms that had given her celebrity. “I was harassed, my family was harassed,” Spiranac adds. “I was receiving death threats, people were invading my privacy, I was being blackmailed. This was going on whilst I was trying to play.”
Back in 2016, in his first year as a pro, Spiranac got her first win in a Cactus Tour event.
Unfortunately, she has since struggled to make to the LPGA Tour, currently ranked 1,191st in the world, and has “taken an indefinite break to pursue a media career and continue work as an ambassador for an anti-bullying charity.”
This year, Spiranac once again returned to the Dubai for the Desert Classic, but as the tournament starter.
“When it comes to the golf industry, I know that people see me as a gimmick,” Spiranac says. “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.”
Gimmick or not, no one deserves to have their life threatened over such petty issues.
“Had an amazing week at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic! Being the first female starter was such an honor. Thank you to @omegagolfdubai, @europeantour, and all the players for making me feel so welcomed for the week! Also thanks to @rorymcilroy and @niallhoran for being so awesome during the pro am and the clinic. You are both superstars but some of the nicest, most genuine guys ever! It was a busy but great week. Next up, the Waste Management Tournament in Arizona! See you all there!”
“Today was a pretty cool day. I was the first female starter at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic and then I went straight from the course to the Dubai American Academy to speak about cyberbullying to 600 students! The kids were so awesome and welcoming, thank you for having me and listening to me speak! I’m blessed and honored by the opportunities I’m given and try to always use my platform for good and to make a difference. I know my journey has had an unconventional path but I’ve found what I’m truly passionate about and that’s giving back and helping others!”
That doesn’t mean she’s done golfing though. Not by a long shot.
Looks like all the practice paid off.
“Played in the @wmphoenixopen pro am yesterday. Such an awesome day! Made birdie on 16 after sticking it to 4 ft which was definitely a highlight of my life haha.”