If you'll recall, there was somewhat of a golf-related kerfuffle back in the spring of this year. That was when Paulina Gretzky, model and fiancee of pro golfer Dustin Johnson, appeared on the cover of the May issue of Golf Digest magazine wearing a sports bra and semi-transparent yoga pants - attire that would violate most of the dress codes at country clubs across the nation.
The bulk of the controversy didn't have anything to do with the "sex sells" aspect of a half-naked female on a magazine cover. Instead, some people wondered why Golf Digest would put a woman who doesn't play professional golf on the cover of a golfing magazine. The publication's editors cited Gretzky's status as part of the "golf celebrity scene" as the reason for her appearance on the cover.
But this explanation was not sufficient in the eyes of many members of the fairer sex. They claimed that the placement of a model on the cover of Golf Digest implied that there was a dearth of attractive pro women's golfers in the world today who could have taken her place. Angela Stanford, a 14-year LPGA player, said as much to USA Today, noting, "You know the old saying, sex sells... But the LPGA has some attractive women and very fit women, so why not use them? I'm just baffled by it."
Stanford has a point. And just in case you were under the misguided impression that professional female golfers were just stocky, buzzcut gym teachers with a low handicap, you should be aware that plenty of these competitors are attractive enough to do a little modeling in addition to their driving, pitching, and putting.
With that in mind, here's a list of 15 gorgeous ladies who also happen to have been blessed with the talent to tear it up on the links - and get paid for doing so.
15 Michelle Wie
There are some men who don't think the words "Wie" and "sexy" should go together, but the fact is, the 24-year old Hawaiian has a look that drives some guys wild. Of course, there's no denying her golf skills: winner of this year's U.S. Women's Open, 45 top ten finishes in her career, $4.5 million in total prize money, and still one of the top ten female golfers in the world. Wie describes herself as "nerdy," but there are plenty of dudes who go for that sort of thing.
14 Demi Runas
This 23-year old Filipino beauty is still basking in the glow of earning her LPGA Tour card for 2015. The UC-Davis alum finished in the top ten on the money list on the Symetra Tour (which is one notch below the LPGA) in September; her $45,095 was good for ninth place and an automatic LPGA card. Runas, who has been playing golf since the age of eight, says she likes baking - which is good news for guys whose way to their hearts is through their stomachs.
13 Lexi Thompson
Thompson is the eighth-ranked golfer on the LPGA Tour right now, and has already banked a cool $2.7 million in her professional career. Thompson's most recent victory was in April's Kraft Nabisco Classic in Rancho Mirage, California. The 19-year old Coral Springs, Florida native won her first LPGA event in 2011 at the Navistar LPGA Classic, making her the youngest ever winner of an LPGA event. Thompson's all grown up now, and she can rock a bikini pretty nicely.
12 Sandra Gal
The 29-year old Gal posted three top-ten finishes on the LPGA tour this year, most recently at the Meijer LPGA Classic in Pittsford, New York in August when she tied for fifth place. Her only career Tour victory came back in 2011 at the Kia Classic. Gal is also a multitalented lady; she plays violin, has 15 years of ballet classes under her belt, can wakeboard, and even auctions off her original paintings for charity. Oh, and Gal also enjoys modeling. Surprised?
11 Cristie Kerr
Some say that women are never truly sexy until they reach their thirties. And this 36-year old Miami native has the grace and elegance that comes with being a 17-year pro on the LPGA Tour. Kerr is currently 11th on the money list thanks largely to her 11 top-ten finishes in 2014, and her sex appeal is bolstered by her almost $16 million in pro winnings. But perhaps her most titillating photo ever was her celebration of her victory in a 2005 tournament. Cold shower, anyone?
10 Sara Brown
You may have seen Brown in 2010 "The Golf Channel's Big Break in 2010." The 28-year old girl-next-door cutie hasn't had the best of seasons, notching her only top-ten finish on the Symetra Tour back in February at the Visit Mesa Gateway Classic, which was her first event of 2014. The Michigan State grad is trying to build on her one career tour victory from back in 2012. Brown says she loves working out, watching movies, and taking photos.
9 Paula Creamer
Some of the hottest ladies have their own nicknames, and Creamer is known as "the Pink Panther" on the LPGA Tour. The 28-year old California native has a dozen professional tournament wins to her credit, including the 2010 U.S. Women's Open where she was the only golfer who finished under par. She has earned over $11 million in her decade-long LPGA career. Plus, Creamer loves dogs and travels with Studley, her Coton de Tulear whenever she goes to tournaments.
8 Sharmila Nicollet
She's the youngest Indian-born golfer in history to qualify for the Ladies' European Tour. Now 23, Nicollet has become somewhat of an icon in her homeland, with appearances in many fashion and celebrity magazines. The Bangalore native has notched 11 professional wins on the LET and in Women's Golf Association of India events. On her website, Nicollet describes herself as "a teddy bear in disguise with a hard candy shell" and enjoys chess, horseback riding, and yoga when she wants to unwind. Nice.
7 Blair O' Neal
The winner of "The Golf Channel's Big Break" in the Dominican Republic, the now-33 year old "golfer/model" has only made one cut on the Symetra Tour this year. But she already has been named to Sports Illustrated's "Hottest 50 Athletes of All-Time." And fellas, don't try to doubt O'Neal's golfing skills - she's got an average driving distance of 270 yards and once drove a ball 308 yards.
6 Danielle Montgomery
Montgomery was born in England but now lives in Australia, which means that she boasts a mixture of two sexy accents. She is about to turn 30 and has already played in dozens of events on the Ladies European Tour, with her best finish a runner-up tie in the 2012 South African Women's Open. During her free time, Montgomery enjoys cycling, running, and frolicking at the beach. In the golfing world, she may be best known for her nothing-but-golf-balls bathtub photo from a few years back. Fore!
5 Kathleen Ekey
The 27-year old Alabama graduate has more than a passing resemblance to actress Keri Russell. But Ekey has been playing golf since she was three years old and is currently finishing up her third season on the Symetra Tour, where her best career finish was a tie for 22nd place last year at the North Texas LPGA shootout. The Cleveland, Ohio native says that her interests range from pilates and yoga to football and hockey - so there's something for every guy to love.
4 Belen Mozo
This sultry Spaniard won both the British Ladies' Amateur Title and British Girls' Amateur Title in 2006, the first time that had been done in 34 years. In four years on the LPGA Tour, she has carded three top-ten finishes, including a tie for fourth at the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic in Waterloo, Ontario. The 26-year old Mozo also enjoys the beach as well as playing tennis. But if you've "read" the ESPN The Body Issue from 2011, you've already seen Mozo in her birthday suit.
3 Beatriz Recari
The second lady from Spain on this list, Recari has earned over $2 million on the LPGA Tour in less than five years. The 27-year old from Pamplona has had a bit of a down year, but did manage a pair of tour victories in 2013 as well as a top ten finish in the Evian Championship that year. Recari has won both a Spanish and a French Amateur Championship, and has still banked about $170,000 this year despite not cracking the top ten. Unfortunately, Recari is reportedly dating her caddie. (What a cliche.)
2 Maria Balikoeva
Balikoeva is to golf as what Anna Kournikova is to tennis. While playing under her maiden name of Verchenova, Maria became the first-ever full-time Russian-born player on the Ladies' European Tour. This season, she matched her best finish of her career with a fourth-place tie in the Turkish Airlines Ladies' Open. But perhaps Balikoeva's most notable achievement is posing for the Russian edition of Maxim in late 2012 - six weeks after giving birth to her daughter.
1 Natalie Gulbis
Being featured in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue in nothing but body paint, getting your own reality show on the Golf Channel, and having your 2005 swimsuit calendar banned from being sold at the U.S. Open are all the reasons that the Sacramento native tops this list. Gulbis, who has been on the LPGA Tour since 2002, only has one victory on that circuit (from 2007). But she has still earned some $4.8 million in winnings for playing golf on the LPGA Tour. Too bad she went and married a former Yale quarterback last year.
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