We discuss whether the woman well known for her Instagram posts should have been invited to the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters.

Would it cross your mind to stop a 22-year-old professional golfer receiving a sponsor’s invite? Thought not. How about when it’s suggested that it’s her looks and her near-on half a million Instagram followers that has got her in? Golf has a new dilemma…and her name is Paige Spiranac.

The American was at the centre of a mini storm last week as she prepared to tee it up at the Omega Ladies Dubai Masters following her sponsor’s invite. There are poses aplenty in her social media profiles, with almost 62,000 Facebook likes and 55.6k Twitter followers able to see her latest selfies and trick shots.

As you’ll probably agree, these are fairly unprecedented numbers for a 22-year-old who isn’t even on one of the major tours. Objectively speaking, though, Spiranac is an attractive woman and this appears to be where the problem lies.

Some have been quick to say her invite is down to her appearance and her prolific online activity. Admittedly it’s easy to see why that’s the predominant school of thought. Spiranac is, by all accounts, a sponsor’s dream: good-looking, talented and not camera shy.

If the talent is evident, you’d be entitled to ask why any of this should really matter.

According to The National, Dame Laura Davies was happy to withhold judgement, saying: “Everyone needs a chance and if she’s a good player, it’s great she’s here. If she’s here for any other reason than being a great golfer, then it’s a little bit pointless.”

That might, ultimately, be at the crux of this argument. It’s as wrong to be prejudiced against someone who’s considered good-looking as it is to be against someone who isn’t.

More to the point, Spiranac is not shy in flaunting her looks, which is perhaps what has unsettled some or encourages them to see her as being undeserving. It’s worth remembering that Spiranac was part of a successful college golf team, so is not short of ability.

It might be argued that it sets a poor example to invite someone based partly on appearance, but that would be to misunderstand the world of sponsorship and advertising.

Did anyone expect that Spiranac would reject the offer? If she’s serious about making her way in the sport, why shouldn’t she accept? She’s hardly sold her soul.

There will be those players who feel they are more deserving of an opportunity. It is, though, a reality that someone like Spiranac, who appears to combine talent with looks, is appealing to a sponsor. It’s unrealistic to think that she won’t attract attention sooner or later.

Might we wonder what impact her invitation has on similar young female golfers who aren’t the next Lydia Ko by their early 20s? Is her invitation suggesting that good looks will get you over the line? Possibly.

But perhaps it’s unfair to throw that at Spiranac; she is entitled to do as she pleases and shouldn’t be burdened with the consequent actions of other young women. Say what you like about the photos she posts online, but she’s done little wrong.

She carded a 77 in her first round in Dubai, which was hardly a dreadful score for someone competing in their first top event. In her second round she finished with a 79, finishing above 2015 Solheim Cup captain Karin Coch as both missed the cut.

Afterwards, she said: “I feel like I was invited here and I wanted to prove that it was for other reasons that just my social media.”

Spiranac would probably have had to have made the cut for any opinions to have seriously changed.

The argument is a complex one and certainly not one that this writer would try and settle. However, Spiranac has ability and, given her online activity, something like this was bound to happen. Is it really fair to say she didn’t deserve her chance?

  • RuariJM

    The sponsorship, tv and media coverage and cash-hungry LET invited Paige Spirinac in (one suspects) and attempt to raise its profile.

    The size of your column on the subject – and other discussions and coverage elsewhere – indicates that Ms Spirinac succeeded admirably in generating column inches, tv coverage, Internet discussions and in raising the profile of the LET generally.

    Job done: she should be congratulated.

    Her golf wasn’t too bad, either. How many players made the cut or avoided a bottom-place finish in their very first tournament after turning pro? She did OK. She didn’t disgrace either herself or the tournament.