When you become a professional golfer and you have amazing talent, the question of how to sell yourself always arises. When shifting to female players, the controversial side to using sexual appeal as a means of personal branding should be considered. The debate is not new; its evolution had already begun when Sally Little turned professional and golf players like Jan Stephenson and Laura Baugh were seen as the poster girls of women’s golf. Articles raved on how Laura Baugh was “cashing in on her “beach girl” beauty and looks.”
The unfortunate reality was that when women ProGolfers were earning the incomes they deserved, it was mostly due commercials and other appearances – not golf winnings. “This is sadly the reality,” sighs Sally, “in fact, equipment sponsorship was big and tour money was small.” This is often a frustration among players who would like to be known for their play first and foremost.
This is an issue that Sally Little also had to deal with. In chapter ten of her biography ‘Capturing The Fire’ Sally speaks on her determination to not be considered a sex symbol… maybe just a nice looking golfer who “knew her business.” Indeed there are very few media articles covering Sally’s career that don’t make a reference to her looks. One such an article appeared in the North Myrtle Beach Times which described Sally as “not only beautiful, but also a great golfer.” The issue is evident in the order of emphasis in this sentence.
The fact that she was beautiful was stated first, as if that was a common denominator needed to actually attract audiences in a patriarchally dominated game, with the latter part of the statement being issued as if the journalist was pleasantly surprised that she was “actually” a great golfer. This phrase effectively sums up the skewed emphasis and pressure placed on women golfers to adhere to socially constructed frameworks of aesthetics. I say, let the players play their game, and let us marvel at their accuracy, not their appearance.
Written by Mikaela Oosthuizen