"Obviously, we're disappointed and frustrated" over the revelation that Paulina Gretzky is on Golf Digest's newest cover instead of an LPGA Tour player, said LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan.
LPGA Tour Commissioner Mike Whan backed up his players on Friday, issuing a statement that echoed the sentiments of those who criticized Golf Digest for putting Paulina Gretzky on the cover of its May issue.
"Obviously, we're disappointed and frustrated by the editorial direction (and timing) Golf Digest has chosen with the announcement of its most recent magazine cover," Whan said in a statement at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the tour's first major tournament of the year.
"If a magazine called Golf Digest is interested in showcasing females in the game, yet consistently steers away from the true superstars who've made history over the last few years, something is clearly wrong," his statement continued. "'Growing the game' means a need for more role models and in these exciting times for women's golf, the LPGA is overflowing with them."
With the magazine having become a big talking point throughout the world of golf over the last couple of days, Golf Digest Editor-in-Chief Jerry Tarde issued a statement of his own on Friday.
"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 also might get some new people interested in the game."
The cover photo shows Gretzky – the golf-playing daughter of hockey star Wayne Gretzky and fiancée of PGA Tour player Dustin Johnson – in a sports bra and tight-fitting capri-length pants.
Lorena Ochoa in 2008 was the last LPGA Tour player to appear on the magazine's cover, while Golf Digest featured Golf Channel personality Holly Sonders in May 2013 and model Kate Upton with Arnold Palmer on the December 2013 cover.
"It's frustrating for female golfers," third-ranked Stacy Lewis said. "It's kind of the state of where we've always been. We don't get respect for being the golfers that we are. Obviously, Golf Digest is trying to sell magazines. But at the same time you'd like to see a little respect for the women's game."