Commentary: Cover Girl Paulina Gretzky? Bad move, Golf Digest

SEATTLE -- We start by putting our spotlight on the controversy surrounding this photo on the cover of Golf Digest.

“Six moves to lower scores with”… Paulina Gretzky. Not a professional golfer – but the daughter of hockey legend Wayne Gretzky and fiance’ of pro golfer Dustin Johnson, clad in yoga pants and a revealing sports bra.

I understand that sex sells – but the magazine went too far.

Did it get people talking this week? Sure. Did it bring attention to the publication? Absolutely. But the Gretzky cover and spread simply sends the wrong message. Guys, this isn’t Maxim or Vogue or Stuff for Men. It’s not a tabloid either. Golf Digest has been considered a reputable source for golf features, stories and instruction to both male but female golfers alike. But by flagrantly pandering to the male demographic by putting a scantily clad non-professional golfer on its cover, the magazine lost credibility - and I’m guessing more than a few female subscriptions.

In a statement, Golf Digest’s editor said quote: “Paulina ranks at the high end of the golf celebrity scene today, and she has a compelling story to tell.”

Then again, it’s now been SIX years since an LPGA golfer has been on the cover of Golf Digest (Lorena Ochoa in 2008). Since then, the last three women to appear on its cover? Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Kate Upton, attractive Golf Channel host Holly Sonders – and now, Paulina Gretzky.

Those facts are indefensible.

We can’t ignore the timing either. There’s a full spread of a PGA player’s hot fiance’ on a weekend that marked the first major championship of the season on the LPGA tour. Some might argue that it’s a testament to the lack of interest in women’s golf. But given that it’s supposed to be the largest golf publication out there, I see it as a major slap in the face to the sport’s female following.

Imagine if the Seattle Storm were in the middle of the WNBA Championships – but instead of having Sue Bird, Lauren Jackson or Brian Agler as our featured guest on “Q It Up Sports,” we instead invited the attractive wife of an NBA player, and featured her in a sports bra and yoga pants.

Would some of our male viewers approve? Maybe. But it would be disrespectful and offensive to the the overwhelming majority of our audience – most of all, the Storm Crazies themselves.

Imagine if you had a daughter playing junior golf. What message does this cover send to her? That she can be as good as Inbee Park and win three majors in a year – but it wouldn’t be good enough to make the cover of Golf Digest? That the easiest way to find herself on the front of Golf’s magazine is to be a world-famous wife or bikini model? Or wearing yoga pants and a sports bra is the way to gain attention at the driving range? That’s the biggest shame of all.

In the end, Golf Digest got the buzz it wanted. After all, we’re talking about it tonight.

But the magazine still made a poor choice. And the long term effects to a once-reputable magazine might have done more harm than good.