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Golf Digest Hot List 2014: Magazine's Cover Photo Upsets LPGA Stars; Why?

First Posted: Apr 05, 2014 10:09 AM EDT

The cover of this month's issue of Golf Digest features Paulina Gretzky in a provocative pose. The problem: she's not a professional golfer.

Gretzky, daughter of legendary hockey player Wayne Gretzky and former actress Janet Jones Gretzky, is, however, engaged to professional golfer Dustin Johnson, but that still isn't sitting right with other LPGA tour stars, according to USA Today.

The publication's cover story featuring Gretzky will be about her connection to the sports industry, as she will also provide six golf-improvement exercises.

Only 21 issues have featured a woman on the cover of the golf magazine since it began publishing in 1950. The first was in 1969 and since then Jane Blalock, Nancy Lopez, Annika Sorenstam, Ochoa, Juli Inkster and Se Ri Pak have graced the cover of Gold Digest.

The most recent women to have been on the cover are Golf Channel anchor Holly Sonders last May, Sports Illustrated swimsuit cover girl Kate Upton alongside Arnold Palmer in December and then this month's issue with Gretzky.

The last actual female golfer to appear on the cover, however, was Lorena Ochoa back in 2008.

The world's No. 1 female golfer Inbee Park said on Thursday that, although the LPGA has gotten better and females are beginning to gain more popularity in the sport, the cover of the magazine is just business as usual.

"That's just been the way it is for over 20, 30 years," Park told reporters at the Kraft Nabisco Championship. "We are trying to get closer to the guys (in popularity), but obviously we are never going to get there. That's for sure."

Golf Digest Editor-in-Chief Jerry Tarde said in a statement that the magazine has featured other people who aren't just golfers. He also said the choice to run Gretzky on the front is because she's a high profile golf celebrity right now.

"Sports figures, celebrities and models have appeared on Golf Digest covers since the magazine's beginning," Tarde said. "Paulina ranks at the high end of the golf celebrity scene today, and she has a compelling story to tell. She might also get some new people interested in the game."

Angela Stanford, a Texas native and professional golfer for more than two decades, said she wasn't surprised that Gretzky got the cover instead of a professional female golfer.

"The question is who are they trying to sell to?" Stanford asked. "If the answer is men 25 years old through 45 years old, then I guess that's what they have to do. You know the old saying, 'sex sells.' And nobody can argue with that. It's just the way it is. But the LPGA has some attractive women and very fit women, so why not use them? I'm just baffled by it."

No. 3 American female golfer Stacy Lewis told the New York Times that female golfers don't get any respect and that the magazine is just trying to get subscriptions.

"It' frustrating for female golfers," Lewis said. "Obviously, Golf Digest is trying to sell magazines, but at the same time you like to see a little respect for women's game.

The tablet edition will be available April 8 and the magazine will hit newsstands April 15.

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