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Q&A with Chelsea Pezzola, the newest Instagram star in pro golf

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Using beauty, fashion, a keen eye for photography and some serious golf skill, a new breed of golfers have caught the attention of the national media, and more importantly, tournament sponsors who issue special tournament exemptions. Paige Spiranac has become the most famous female golfer to employ the social-media-fueled strategy, and she surely won’t be the last.

Chelsea Pezzola, a former University of Michigan golfer who recently caught the attention of Playboy and Maxim at the ESPYs and has amassed 26,000 followers on Instagram with just 300 posts, is following in Spiranac’s footsteps.

Pezzola is teeing it up at the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters this week, and our Andrew Tursky caught up with her to discuss tournament preparation, what’s in her bag, her newly found media attention and the benefits of social media in growing the game. 

Andrew Tursky: When did you start playing golf, and when did you begin realizing you could play professionally?

Chelsea Pezzola: I actually started playing golf when I was 5. My step dad got me into the game, and I started on a little par-3 course in Yardley, Pennsylvania. As I grew older, I started getting involved in more junior golf programs, and eventually my parents uprooted and we moved to Bradenton, Florida, where I went to IMG Academies. During that time I was competing against some of the world’s greatest players, from all around the world… that’s kind of when I realized that this is not only my passion and my love, but something I wanted to do career wise. Going through college, I had a really strong focus, and I was focused on my schooling and my academics. I became part of the Michigan Sport Business Conference, which was the first ever student-run Sports Business Conference. And in talking to all the speakers that we hosted, every single one of them said, “Follow your dreams, follow your passions, go pro, the jobs will wait.” Hearing that security, it really made me realize that I can’t turn down this passion and I really want to pursue it after college and give it my all.

AT: Did your parents uproot because of your golf career. Is that why you moved down to Florida?

CP: Yes. They were fortunate enough at the time they could both work out of the office remote, so they moved down to Bradenton for me, and then I went to IMG and they ended up just staying because who doesn’t love the Florida weather?

AT: You’re playing in the upcoming Omega Dubai Ladies Masters. How exactly did that come about?

CP: I was very fortunate to be invited by the CEO and Vice Chairman, Mohamed Juma Buamaim, and the entire team at Golf in Dubai. I was offered a sponsorship exemption, and I’m so honored and so thankful and so excited to play. I can’t wait to get over there and experience the culture of Dubai. It’s been No. 1 on my bucket list and to get this invitation to play and be part of such an incredible event I could not be more excited.

AT: What’s the preparation been like for the tournament?

CP: I actually moved out to Scottsdale, Arizona, to train with my coach Dave Yetstead. He’s based out here at TPC Scottsdale. I’ve also been training at Scottsdale National, Bob Parsons’ course out here. So I uprooted out here and we’ve been training for the last couple months really getting ready. We’ve been doing a lot of course work. My game has definitely improved a lot, and it’s feeling really good. I’m just really trying to focus mentally and get ready for a big tournament like this. So I’ve been competing a lot against a lot of players out here, and trying to get mentally strong, and trying to zone in my iron play and hit as many greens as I can.

  A video posted by Chelsea Lynn Pezzola (@clpezzola) on

AT: You mentioned Bob Parsons. What is your relationship with PXG, and are you gaming the clubs?

CP: Yes, I am playing their products. I absolutely love them. Since I switched to PXG, my game has improved tremendously. I cannot say enough good things about their irons, and I just recently got their woods. I’m absolutely loving it. The technology is incredible and the staff there could not be better at helping me get my game to the next level. I think technology is a big part of the game, and when you have the right sticks in your hand it makes everything a lot easier.

AT: Can you take me through the bag? What models of the clubs are you playing, and their shafts?

CP: I have the 0311 irons with the Nippon regular 850 shafts… I’m probably saying that totally wrong. Driver, I’m actually looking right now, I can tell you exactly. I have the 0811X with the Tour AD-DI 5 regular shaft. The woods, I have the newest 0341x with the Kuro Kage TiNi regular shaft.

AT: Thanks. Sorry for nerding out on you there…

CP: No, sorry that I’m saying it wrong. I joke because I love equipment, but I’m just like, I’m going to trust somebody who knows what they’re doing to put it in my hand, and if it feels right, it feels right. And those PXG’s definitely feel right for me.

AT: Switching gears a bit… you don’t hide your love of beauty and fashion on social media. What are your ultimate goals in professional golf, and how is social media helping you achieve those goals?

CP: I think, well, definitely my main goal is to make it to the LPGA, obviously. I’m working really hard to do that. It’s been my dream since I was 5 years old to be out there on the LPGA. At the end of the day, my other goal is to grow the game of women’s golf, and I think that’s where social media comes into play. It helps break down the walls and that exterior barrier of the intimidation of golf, and getting other females involved — and even males involved — via social media, showing them what I’m doing to train and showing them how much fun golf can be and the different environments you can take golf into. Just getting more people involved and growing the game, that’s where social media comes in for me.

AT: Do you see yourself as a role model for young girls? And if so, what’s your message to them?

CP: I try to look at myself as more of an influencer, to really help them get involved and show them the different avenues that they can take to really make it to the next stages. I’m a big believer in everyone brings something unique to the table, and I think you just have to find what that is and embrace it and follow your dreams. My advice to anybody is to be true to themselves and never give up. You get a lot of hate and criticism, but at the end of the day you just have to stay true to who you are and never stop chasing your dreams.

AT: So how did you end up at the ESPY’s, and were you surprised by interest from Maxim and PlayBoy? 

CP: Oh yea, I was beyond shocked. I didn’t expect that at all. It’s always been a dream of mine since I was young to go to the ESPY’s. Like I said, it’s a big part of who I am, I love Sports Business, that was my major in college, and I’m so intrigued by all aspects of sport from the business side, to the playing side, to the marketing side, to kind of everything that goes into it. I’ve always really wanted to go to the ESPYs, and I kind of voiced this wish to a couple people, and the next thing you know I open my email to an invitation. And I could not be more thankful and more honored to have been invited, not only as an audience member, but to the red carpet and the body party. I went in just thinking I’d be kinda star struck, and so excited to meet the people I got to meet, I never in a million years expected the media coverage that I had gotten. So that was kinda crazy waking up one morning to all of that. I did not expect it, but it was definitely a really cool experience.

AT: How did you end up getting invited to the ESPYs?

CP: Well, I was fortunate enough to have a family friend that knew somebody inside ESPN, and through Will Helmina, my modeling agency. That was who I got the invitation from.

AT: In the last few years, there’s been a wave of Instagram models making a splash in professional golf. Does it give you encouragement that if golfers like Paige Spiranac can do it, you can too? 

CP: Yea definitely. It just shows that there are other avenues. It brings attention to women’s golf, and that’s something golf hasn’t had in the past years as much. I think that’s what she really did and I admire her for that. I admire her for her hard work and dedication, despite all the hate, and criticism that she’s gotten. And it gives inspiration not only to me, but to other young females that are really trying to get involved. And it shows them ways they can get involved, and unique things they can do and ways to kind of show their journey. Like I said, everybody has their own unique path that they’re trying to take, and just by embracing that like Paige has, it shows they can really do it.

AT: Good luck out in Dubai and thanks for the time! Are you nervous for the start?

CP: I definitely think I’m… I’m nervous, you know it’ll be one of the bigger events I’ve played in, like I said I’m really excited and really honored to have this invitation. I really have been working hard, and I’ve done everything I can to prepare, so I’m just ready to go out there and compete. Nerves are never a bad thing. You just have to use them in the right way, so that’s what I’m really working on right now.

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Andrew Tursky is the Editor-in-Chief of GolfWRX. He played on the Hawaii Pacific University Men's Golf team and earned a Masters degree in Communications. He also played college golf at Rutgers University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism.

28 Comments

28 Comments

  1. Mat

    Dec 25, 2016 at 5:26 am

    That’s the PXG I was expecting…

  2. Jim Parsons

    Dec 14, 2016 at 11:52 am

    Guys I promise this one tournament isn’t any indication of our club performance. Chelsea is still getting fine-tuned to our newest equipment. Be on the lookout for our new set of irons, starting at $10,000.

  3. J

    Dec 12, 2016 at 12:22 am

    What a joke. 82-82. Looks like she got some practice in over the weekend, aka went to the beach and did more instagram pose photos.

  4. Chunkie Buck

    Dec 10, 2016 at 5:20 pm

    Hey RJ, I think you’re on to something!! WITB, What’s in the bra?

  5. Jalan

    Dec 9, 2016 at 9:46 pm

    Except for Annabel Dimmock WD, she is DFL, missed the cut by 16 strokes. Even Paige Spiranac beat her.

  6. Jalan

    Dec 9, 2016 at 9:45 pm

    Except for Annabel Gimmick WD, she is DFL, missed the cut by 16 strokes. Even Paige Spiranac beat her.

  7. doug iann

    Dec 9, 2016 at 8:56 pm

    LET Tourney results:
    Paige – 77-80 MC
    Chelsea – 82-82 MC Dead Last
    From Chelsea “Since I switched to PXG, my game has improved tremendously.” – wow, what was it like before the switch? 18 hdcp?
    Her current game is about as good as mine, and I stink! But alas, I don’t have big jigglies.

  8. Alfredo Smith

    Dec 8, 2016 at 7:02 pm

    Wow really, the golf purity police rears its ugly head and is hating on pretty young girls, what the heck. So what if she gets an invite, the tournament sponsors have their reasons and when you become a zillionaire you can invite whoever you like to your tournament.

  9. Prime21

    Dec 8, 2016 at 12:34 pm

    +1

  10. AllBOdoesisgolf

    Dec 8, 2016 at 11:11 am

    women… don’t exploit us…. unless we can make loads of money and be famous, then it’s ok.

  11. Jim Parsons

    Dec 7, 2016 at 6:19 pm

    Thanks for the coverage! PXG loves paying under-achieving hotties to play our over-priced clubs! But if actual touring professionals want to try our stuff, they have to pay for it! Makes TOTAL sense I know. Be sure to look out for our newest venture coming soon… Skinemax’s Bikini Golf – Sponsored by PXG

    • Paige Spiranac

      Dec 7, 2016 at 9:25 pm

      Hey Jim! Shoot me a message on my instagram!

      • Jim Parsons

        Dec 8, 2016 at 10:47 am

        Take it you didn’t get the Go Daddy Lingerie I sent over?

  12. John

    Dec 6, 2016 at 4:19 pm

    These takes are hilarious. If she’s happy then f— it, that’s what America is all about

  13. Rj

    Dec 6, 2016 at 3:17 am

    Why does this site keep ogling to these models and not articles about the LPGA, LET, Symetra and other developmental professional tours with real players and their WITB?

  14. SV

    Dec 5, 2016 at 2:19 pm

    If this and Spiranac are all the US can come up with, is it any wonder the Koreans are kicking our butts? Why not cover real golfers that actually know what equipment they are playing?

  15. Dave R

    Dec 5, 2016 at 1:02 pm

    One of your dumbest. Is this about ladies golf or golf clubs or some one selling weights?. We all know sex sells but get over it . What year are we living in good god this type of reporting is wrong she is a very good looking young ladie stop exploiting her . When she can win at the highest level in ladies golf then you can report it. And no I’m not stupid I realize what’s going on but it’s my right to disagree with stupidly .

    • Tazz2293

      Jan 3, 2017 at 8:30 pm

      She wants to be exploited and if she is okay with it who are you to disagree?

  16. matt_bear

    Dec 5, 2016 at 10:47 am

    81.67 scoring average her final year of college. Best round of 74….that gets you into a pro tournament? This is advancing women’s “golf”???? Whatever. Why does everyone have to pretend this is a golf story? This is selling sex.

  17. Johnny

    Dec 5, 2016 at 10:42 am

    Andrew, just how lazy do you have to be to “report” on this lady when you had so many far more interesting stories to report on from the LPGA Q-School that just finished up yesterday?

    • ooffa

      Dec 5, 2016 at 11:47 am

      Are you serious there was definitely nothing more interesting then this. Great reporting job. Well, except for the words in the article. Less words, more pictures. Ideally no words. Yes go for that. Just pictures. Thanks in advance.

  18. Steve S

    Dec 5, 2016 at 10:04 am

    To say that I don’t understand women is an understatement but……

    Here is an obviously smart and talented lady who is trading on her looks. In 5-10 years something will come up where she is mocked or made fun of, for one reason or another, and she will complain that she is not being “taken seriously”.

    Women are OK if their good looks get them places but complain that their looks overshadow their “other qualities”. Sorry sweetie, show me yours and our testosterone kicks in and we want to show you ours.

    And I don’t agree with Smitty…Lexi floats my boat….

  19. B. Parsons

    Dec 5, 2016 at 9:39 am

    Screw golf, let’s just put athletic models out on the course and hope tv ratings go up!

    Who needs golfers in golf tournaments when models are prettier?

  20. Ron

    Dec 5, 2016 at 9:29 am

    Hot girl golfer gets attention for being hot. Actual competitive female golfers righteously indignant. When she starts earning her way to tournament invites, she’ll be a golfer. When pervy CEOs invite her for her cans, she’s just eye candy.

  21. Smitty

    Dec 5, 2016 at 8:44 am

    Good interview but Paige Spiranac is still #1 in my book by a mile.

  22. carl spackler

    Dec 5, 2016 at 8:26 am

    wow, how she makes it to a pro tourney with these stats is beyond me. 81 average!?!?

    Senior (2013-14) … Academic All-Big Ten … U-M Athletic Academic Achievement … U-M Senior Honors Award Recipient … Played in four tournaments, with three starts … Played in two fall tournaments and two spring tournaments … Competed in third career Big Ten Championships (April 25-27) finishing 71st at 253 (87-85-81) … Ended final season averaging 81.67 strokes per round … Shot a season-best two-over 74 in the first round of the Hurricane Invitational (March 3-5) … Averaged 245.00 strokes per 54-hole event … Tallied a season-best 54-hole tournament total of 242, twice — Challenge at Onion Creek (Sept. 30-Oct. 1) and Hurricane Invitational.

    • Ian Muir

      Dec 5, 2016 at 10:31 am

      Spot-on comments; she’s just a side-show same as Spirinac and not what the ladies’ game needs.

  23. Mike Honcho

    Dec 5, 2016 at 7:40 am

    If you Shank this article, you have season passes to Siegfried and Roy.

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Tour News

It’s the Ardmore! Woods begins Quicken Loans National with TaylorMade putter in the bag

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If you had a bet going with your buddies that there was no way Tiger Woods would depart from his beloved 13 major-winning Scotty Cameron Newport 2 GSS this week, you lose.

Woods started the first round of the Quicken Loans National with the TaylorMade Ardmore 3 he has been practicing all week with at TPC Potomac.

Adam Schupak spotted Woods’ caddie, Joe LaCava, on the way to the first tee for Woods’ 1:20 ET start time with the camo TaylorMade putter cover in the bag (not surprisingly, the TaylorMade Ardmore 3 was beneath the cover).

Woods has struggled with the putter this season, as we’re all well aware, particularly since the Memorial. No. 89 on Tour in strokes gained: putting, the 14-time major champion knew he had to do something.

“I’m trying to find something that I can feel again, like the swing of the putter, getting my body in the right positions and seeing the lines again,” Woods said. “You know, it’s just one of those things, once I start to get the ball rolling on my lines, then I’ll be back to putting like I was. I just have not been rolling it on my lines. And then on top of that, when they don’t roll on lines, then I have a hard time seeing my lines and it’s a vicious cycle. And I’m just trying to get out of that cycle.”

Woods reportedly tried a number of TaylorMade putters in the Bahamas last week, arriving (as far as we know) at the Quicken Loans National with just the Ardmore and his Newport to choose between.

He has made his choice for the first round. We’ll see how it pans out and whether Woods remains a mallet man all week.

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5 things we learned on Sunday of the 2018 U.S. Open

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Opportunity knocked for so many golfers, yet it was the 2017 champion who seized the moment when it was his. Brooks Koepka fired his second sub-par round of the week on Sunday to separate from playing partner Dustin Johnson, and enter the pantheon of multiple major champions. He became the 7th player to defend his title, joining old-school legends like Willie Anderson and John McDermott, mid-century icons like Ralph Guldahl and Ben Hogan, and the last man to accomplish the feat, Curtis Strange. With that introduction, let’s move to the main event, the 5 things we learned on Sunday at Shinnecock Hills.

5) The USGA gave golf a chance

True to its word, the USGA pulled out all the stops in the wee hours of Sunday morn. The course set-up team ensured that enough water was distributed to putting surfaces, that worthy shots would not be punished. Hole locations were assessed and confirmed, also ensuring that multiple opportunities for success were available. As a result, 15 golfers turned in scores under par of 70, highlighted by Tommy Fleetwood’s 7-under stunner. Although many fans, writers and players were quick to assault the organizers for losing control of the course, the USGA reminded us that it always had control of the conditions at Shinny, and that its only mistake was to soar too close to the sun.

4) Captain America ran out of gas

If Patrick Reed had been able to sign his card on the 9th tee, when he stood 5-under on the day and 1-over for the tournament, he would be in a playoff with the eventual champion as I type. Unfortunate for this year’s Masters champion was that 10 holes remained. Reed promptly bogeyed the 9th, added 3 more bogeys on the inward half, and summoned just one birdie toward the end. His fourth-place finish was his best in a U.S. Open, but knowing that victory was in the cards will sting for a while.

3) DJ and Finau gave it a run

Where to begin? How about this: DJ had four bogeys on Sunday. He totaled that many on Thursday-Friday combined. He had birdies, too, but couldn’t find the game that possessed him over the opening 36 holes. Oddly enough, this type of experience won’t be a setback for the 2016 champion. After all, he came back from a career-killer in 2015, when he 3-whacked his way out of a playoff with Jordan Spieth at Chambers Bay. As for Milton Pouhau Finau, aka Tony, the Utah native had never before been in the final group on any day of a major professional championship. He acquitted himself well, standing even on the day and 3-over for T2 at the 18th tee. Knowing that he needed eagle for a playoff might have taken the final winds from his sails, and he limped home with double bogey and solo third. Looking ahead to the final August playing of the PGA Championship, Bellerive near St. Louis might just be his type of course.

2) Tom Terrific nearly made his own U.S. Open history

I’ll write this cautiously, as I’m certain I would have intimated in the 1980s and 90s that Colin Montgomerie and Lee Westwood would have been major champions by now. Tommy Fleetwood ought to win one of these things soon. His record-tying 63 was a short putt away from a record-breaking 62. Eight birdies against a single bogey was the stuff of legend, and if only he had trusted that final putt a bit higher on the break … that’s not fair. Fleetwood right now is the fellow to watch at Carnoustie next month. Bet a few quid or bob or whatever on the Southport native, as he should contend for the title.

1) Brooks cooks up a winning broth

It’s easy to look back and see all the great shots that the defending champion hit over the four days of the 2018 U.S. Open, shots that would win him his second consecutive trophy. Remember that 60-feet bomb to save par on Saturday? Shades of Costantino Rocca. How about the approach shots to within mere feet that earned him 5 birdies on Sunday, including a competition-killer on 16? Koepka was the guy we thought Dustin Johnson would be. Perhaps it was the time off for wrist rehabilitation early this season that gave him the burning desire to win. Out for nearly 4 months, Koepka had plenty of time to ponder what he achieved last June in Wisconsin, and what might lay ahead for him. The begged question is, does the most recent, two-time major winner have the game to acquire more of the game’s cherished trophies?

Related: Brooks Koepka’s Winning WITB from the 2018 U.S. Open

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Wednesday’s Photos from the 2018 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills

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GolfWRX is live from the 2018 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club (par 70; 7,440 yards) in Southhampton, New York. The U.S. Open returns to Shinnecock for the first time since 2004 when Retief Goosen won (he failed to qualify for the 2018 event).

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Phil Mickelson, who has two top-5 finishes at Shinnecock Hills, will seek to fill out his career Grand Slam with a win this week. Also, it’s Tiger Woods’ 10-year anniversary of winning the legendary 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines — that was his most recent major championship victory.

Also in the field are headliners Dustin Johnson (now ranked No. 1 in the Official World Golf Rankings), Justin Thomas (No. 2), Justin Rose (No. 3), Jon Rahm (No. 4) and Jordan Spieth (No. 5).

Brooks Koepka (No. 9) is the defending champion; he won last year by four shots for his first and only major so far in his career.

Check out our photos from Shinnecock Hills below!

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Discussion: See what GolfWRX members are saying about the photos in our forums

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