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Using beauty (and social media) to break down sexism in golf

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“You know what ‘golf’ stands for, right? Gentleman Only, Ladies Forbidden!”

Hang around a golf course long enough, and you’ll undoubtedly hear a male golfer say that. Then you’ll hear an obligatory chuckle from fellow male golfers who pretend they haven’t heard the joke before.

It’s no secret that golf has been an inherently sexist, male-dominated sport since its beginnings. The proof isn’t difficult to find. Augusta National didn’t allow its first female member until 2012 (it was founded in 1932), and private golf clubs scattered across the country and world remain male-exclusive. But while men haven’t always been welcoming toward women golfers, many women haven’t been drawn to the game like men have, either.

“For girls, [golf] isn’t that cool thing to do,” SAID 2015 Miss America Kira Kazantsev.

Kazantsev won the Miss America Beauty pageant in 2015, and she plays golf in celebrity events around the country carrying a 19-handicap. While she says golf hasn’t always been popular for young girls, social media is helping to shift that paradigm. Women such as Paige Spiranac, Elise Lobb and Blair O’Neal frequently post videos and photos of themselves playing golf, becoming popular figures in the game — maybe even role models in the process. It’s not a stretch to say they’re as popular, if not more popular, than the leading money winners on the LPGA Tour.

“This is making [golf] part of everyday culture for girls,” Kazantsev said.

Kazantsev also uses Instagram and Twitter to post photos and videos of herself on the golf course, among her other everyday interests such as fashion. To her, golf helps to build work ethic and discipline, and also opens doors in business. She says she wants to use her position to help encourage young girls to play golf.

“If you’re smart, beautiful and good at golf, You can do anything,” Kazantsev says. “A lot of business deals get closed on the golf course… and for a female to actually be able to play [golf], it’s totally different.”

Kazantsev told a story about a charity golf event she recently attended, which captured the essence of the paradigm shift regarding gender in golf.

“I was on one of the tees for a charity golf event doing a celebrity shot,” Kazantsev said. “One group of guys came up and started making jokes about me, you know, because I’m a woman… they bet me $500 I couldn’t put it in the fairway.”

She did hit the ball in the fairway and collected $500 for the charity.

Maybe those familiar sexist golf jokes will become a thing of the past as more and more young girls take to the course. It’s also possible that women like Kazantsev, by sharing their golf escapades on Instagram, are exactly what golf needs to brighten the future of the game.

If you’re curious about Kazantsev’s latest golfing adventures, here’s a brief gallery as posted on her social media accounts.

Not bad, Maui ???????? #Hawaii #Kapalua #Shwing #TheBay #WellDeservedVacay #Maui @adidas @callawaygolf @golfdigest

A photo posted by Kira Kazantsev (@realkirakazantsev) on

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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.

26 Comments

26 Comments

  1. Mat

    Mar 29, 2016 at 8:37 pm

    It may add participants, but waiving one’s sexuality around doesn’t end sexism. What would go 1000x further would be more mixed events between the PGA and LPGA. Make a much bigger deal about how women can play in a shorter time. Encourage the +3 pickup for ALL golfers. If you miss your double bogey, you get a triple. Move on, and don’t overly penalise players for pace.

    In fact, if you want to break down sexism, help women get handicaps. In fact, for all new players, they should have a “novice index” which is simply that you get a first handicap of not shooting a triple on 14/18 holes. It’s a yes/no step-through that speeds up the game. Achieve that mark, and you’ve hooked a player!

  2. kevinricci

    Mar 10, 2016 at 6:44 pm

    You people are so screwed up. At my club on Cape Cod, we play in mixed foursomes all the time. Women are humans, not sex toys.

  3. DB

    Mar 2, 2016 at 10:28 pm

    Mr. Tursky, I come here to read about golf, tour news, equipment, etc.

    I’m so sick of hearing about “isms” everywhere. Please don’t bring it here.

  4. Stymie

    Mar 1, 2016 at 10:03 pm

    …All a bit OTT really!

  5. Matthew Bacon

    Mar 1, 2016 at 7:46 pm

    I think the article was to be taken a little less seriously than most are taking it. Golf is unappealing to most young women and any way to get people exposed to the game can’t hurt. Will she change the landscape of golf, I don’t think so, but she may bring a few people in.

  6. Rilley

    Mar 1, 2016 at 7:34 pm

    Very simple win on PGA tour a few times and your marketable, win on LPGA tour and you better be good looking or you are not marketable…When Lexi Thomson wins how much coverage does she get compared to what Inbee Park gets when she wins…..or how about someone on the level of Natalie Gulbis one win in 15 years and her face is seen hundred times for every time we see Inbee’s….and how much media time has been spent on MS WIE the last 10 years….

    • mike

      Mar 9, 2016 at 1:24 pm

      I am going to disagree with you a little bit. Inbee has gotten a ton more publicity than natalie has in recent years. Women’s golf covers 2 types of golfers: those that win and those that are influencing and bringing girls to the game. Michelle and Paula havent won a ton as of late, but they do bring girls to the game. Ko and Brooke Henderson win a lot and also bring alot of younger girls to the game.

      Inbee gets tons of coverage when she wins, probably 2 years ago you couldnt mention women’s golf without Inbee when she was going for the slam. She is also very well know for her putting and when she is playing well, she is always shown on tv and talked about. I would argue they get about the same about of coverage, the only difference is Lexi has been hotter as of late. We all know golf media is pretty much covers people based on a ” what have you done for me lately” scale, and she has played great as of late. She is also a bomber, and everyone knows people love seeing the long ball.

      As far as I am concerned, aside from the Winn grip commercials, I didn’t realize natalie still played golf.

  7. Golfgirlrobin

    Mar 1, 2016 at 5:01 pm

    Holy crap, that was crap. Not just ordinary crap, but grade A crap.

    If you’re smart, beautiful and good at golf you can do anything? Really, did you just say that women need to be pretty to achieve? Cause I’m pretty sure you did. How about using your position, whatever that actually is, to encourage girls and women to succeed based on brains and ambition and not on flashing what you’ve got on Instagram.

    Men who think the golf course is their personal domain aren’t going to be convinced by pretty girls with a 19 handicap. Are they going to enjoy watching you bend over? Yes, but that’s the only reason you’ll be welcome.

    Plenty of great women golfers out there who can be followed on social media for reasons other than the length of their skirt. Actual success on the golf course is what will increase acceptance.

    • RHJazz

      Mar 1, 2016 at 9:20 pm

      Exactly – and well put! Using sex appeal to fight sexism? Seriously?! It’s not hard to see why golf has an image problem and declining numbers. Just look at how a lot of men treat the “cart girl.” More and more people won’t accept the old boy’s club ways any more. A lot of real work on attitudes and behavior might do something to bring women into golf, not this.

      • TMTC

        Mar 4, 2016 at 10:22 am

        To a certain degree, it works the same with men.
        Look at the attention Adam Scott gets, Greg Norman or Fredy Couples.
        We all like to look at attractive things whether it’s architecture, nature, or people.
        For goodness sakes we even give koodo’s for presentation in food.
        Get over it people, it works both ways and always will, until we all look exactly the same.
        TMTC

  8. ooffa

    Mar 1, 2016 at 2:06 pm

    more T and A please

  9. Dev

    Mar 1, 2016 at 1:54 pm

    White Knight Male Feminist Journalist Spotted. WARNING LONG READ

    First your premise that Golf is sexist because its male dominated. Why is it that whenever men want to keep a hobby to themselves its sexist, but whenever women want to keep a hobby female dominated its empowering? Pro-tip, the answer is not “the patriarchy”.

    Next, using beauty, sexy outfits, and your body to promote golf and breakdown sexism is just inherently flawed. In fact you are doing the exact opposite and showing young girls that once again, being good at something isn’t enough, you also have to look good too. So instead we are just promoting sexism in the fact that women can only be looked up to if they are desirable.

    Finally, I looked at Kira Kazantsev’s instagram and had to scroll way down until I hit the first picture of her golfing. The rest is just her in sexy outfits, expensive fashionable outfits, or her meeting famous people. Its all self promotion, just promoting her own brand. She may indeed like golf, but lets not pretend she actually thinks shes a role model to get girls interested in the game.

    Are we really going to pretend people like Paige Spiranac are popular because they are good at golf? No its because she is incredibly sexy and also happens to play golf and seems like the perfect girl next door. I’m sure she is awesome, but again we are just promoting the same old “girls have to be pretty to be recognized”.

    I’m honestly not sure what disappoints me more about this article, the fact you think its sexist that men have a hobby that they would like to keep mostly male dominated, or the fact that in trying to write a serious article that shows how women “are breaking down sexist barriers” you have written one of the more sexist articles I have read.

    I am seriously disappointed this article was allowed to be posted on the front page. But I guess you have to get views somehow, and it got me talking. So Gold star there I suppose.

  10. mlecuni

    Mar 1, 2016 at 1:13 pm

    beauty + social media, isnt’it sexist by nature ?
    Was mrs johnson promoting golf by posing for a magazine ? was mrs thomson fighting sexism by posing in a very sexy way for this same paper ?
    When does a girl playing golf is fighting sexism by posting selfies of herself half naked in bed or in mini short from behind ?
    Does it promote golf in a good way for youngters ? does it promote the hard work of the Lpga and all ladies golf associations from around the world ?
    When mrs rice arrived at augusta, she was fighting sexism not by her beauty nor her social media thing, she was fighting with her name made popular by her hard work for usa.
    Want to fight sexism, ask real women athletes about it, show us their skills not their body.

  11. Billy Jean

    Mar 1, 2016 at 1:07 pm

    it all went downhill when we allowed women to vote

  12. M

    Mar 1, 2016 at 10:26 am

    How could you possibly say that PS or EL are role models for young girls? Wear super tight yoga shorts showing a ton of skin and hit a flop shot or two? If I had a daughter that is the exact opposite thing I would want to be pushing to her.

    At least Blair O’Neal has played tournament golf at a pretty high level and Ms. Kazantsev is wearing normal, respectable golf clothing looking very pretty but still classy in the process. I agree that her pictures definitely make golf look appealing in some awesome locations with beautiful scenery.

    The girls that should be “golf celebrities” are ones like Brooke Henderson who won her first LPGA event as a 17 yr old and plays a 48″ driver on tour or Christina Kim who has battled depression but has been open about it the last few years to help bring awareness to mental illness and help with her recovery.

    • Johnny

      Mar 1, 2016 at 11:55 am

      This post nails it!

      PS and EL are far from being role models for young girls who are interested in golf. And to suggest that they are, is downright laughable. And equally laughable is to suggest that they are more popular than the leading money on the LPGA Tour.

      In fact, I would say that the noted philosopher, John McEnroe summed it up pretty good when he said, “You cannot be serious!” Or something like that.

    • mlecuni

      Mar 1, 2016 at 1:23 pm

      Even a kid like Lucy Li at the us open conference, eating her icecream after her round, was promoting golf in a better way than all the girls from this article: combined.

    • Bogeypro

      Mar 4, 2016 at 10:22 am

      I agree. The examples used are not good. Dressing like a stripper and hitting flop shots to get noticed is not the example young girls need to follow. There are many other better examples for young women to follow.

  13. MarkB A

    Mar 1, 2016 at 10:14 am

    I think young high school aged boys are worse then women. They have all the time in the world.

  14. 4pillars

    Mar 1, 2016 at 10:07 am

    If you want to look for female participator you should look at Germany, Austria and the Netherlands where over a third of participants are women.

    This article will do nothing to increase female participation in the game.

    And Japanese women golfers are far more attractive and better dressed anyway.

  15. cody

    Mar 1, 2016 at 10:06 am

    worst day ever to try and get in a round is ladies day. It will end up taking 8+ hours while you stand in the fairway watching 4 women mill about as each one takes their turn on the green. No rush no consideration. I cringe when i walk up to the first tee and see a group of women ahead of me. Sorry just saying what is true.

    • Jordan

      Mar 1, 2016 at 10:13 am

      Plenty of male groups guilty of the same. I’ve got a lot of respect for the women that play at some of my local courses. And don’t leave putts short around them… they can talk trash with the best of them!

  16. Philip

    Mar 1, 2016 at 10:06 am

    I’m not so sure that using beauty (sex) with social media is going to change attitudes towards women on the course in a positive way? Isn’t it the whole point that women want to be treated as individual as men, regardless of whether they are attractive or not. Attractive men face the same stereotypes as attractive women and I see social media as a vehicle to use that asset. I play golf with whoever is on the tee – men or women, I have some women golfers that I enjoy spending the day with and the same goes for men golfers. I don’t care if someone is a pretend single digit or a 25 handicap, just as long as we try to keep up with the group in front. There are days when I want to golf with the guys, drink beer and get away from women. Then there are other days I look forward to the company of women. But I have never thought someone can do or not do something based on their sex. Of course, I have had rounds with men who roll their eyes when a woman joins the group – I just move up to the forward tees and spend the day with her – their lose.

    • shimmy

      Mar 1, 2016 at 12:08 pm

      Women do wanted to be treated as individuals, and that includes using their sex appeal if they want to.

    • Capn

      Mar 1, 2016 at 1:13 pm

      Well said.

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