Thursday, May 28, 2009

Kirsty Taylor

kirsty taylor pictures

Kirsty Taylor is the subject of a feature on the LET Web site about her weight-loss efforts, and her cancer prevention and awareness efforts. She'll be working on three of those things simultaneously on June 21 when she takes part in the Cancer Research UK's Race for Life 5k run. Kirsty's father succumbed to cancer six years ago, and June 21 is Father's Day in Britain.

There are actually two Kirsty Taylors on the LET; this one is Kirsty S. Taylor, the younger of the two, and the 2002 LET Rookie of the Year.

Last season was Kirsty's best since that 2002 rookie year. In 2008, Kirsty finished 39th on the money list, with a best showing of fourth place at the ABN AMRO Ladies Open. She had nine other Top 30 finishes for the season.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Jade Schaeffer

jade schaeffer pictures

Jade Schaeffer is a French golfer, born on Reunion Island but now living in Paris, who is the younger sister of LET golfer Fanny Schaeffer. Jade, age 23, is herself an LET member, having won the 2006 Q-School tournament.

And her first official victory on the Ladies European Tour came today at the Ladies German Open. Jade shot a 67 in the final round, coming from six strokes behind third-round leader Paula Marti to tie Marti and force a playoff. Which Schaeffer then won with a birdie on the first playoff hole.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

In Defense of Play Golf Designs

Do me a favor. Before reading further, take a look at the photos of Play Golf Designs professionals we've posted here over the last couple years by clicking this link. It will open in a new window so you won't be taken away from this post. Go ahead. I'll wait.

Back? OK, good. Now, what did you see? You saw glamour shots, right? You did not see anything risque, anything revealing (in a physical sense), anything exploitative, anything in poor taste, anything - for lack of a better word - skanky.

Right? Right. Glamour shots. Simple glamour shots.

What's the point of this intro? Recently, a writer for Time.com penned an attack on Play Golf Designs that was headlined, "Lady Golfers for Rent: Escort Service for Duffers?"

In fairness to that writer, Sean Gregory, he almost certainly had nothing to do with that insulting and very stupid headline. He did, however, make a reference to escort services himself within the body of the article.

The article is a screed against the notion that female athletes (and the leagues they belong to) might use their looks to gain attention and new fans. Not exactly an original subject; that debate has been going on for decades.

Let me just state before continuing that I am aware of the irony in a site called Golf Babes offering a defense against charges of exploitation of female athletes. But my positive content and the steady stream of always positive feedback I get from women touring professional golfers leaves my conscience clear.

I'm also aware of the irony of a writer composing a none-too-original piece criticizing the marketing of female athletes deciding he'll "sex it up" with a gratuitous and insulting comparison of some of those athletes to "escorts." Well played, Mr. Gregory. Out of one side of his mouth he gets to tell the world of his moral rectitude and respect for women; out of the other side he gets to call some of those women whores. Jackass.

If Mr. Gregory really wants to show off his credentials as a defender of women against exploitation in the sports world, perhaps he should write something about Time's sister publication Sports Illustrated. Word on the street is that once a year SI - owned by Time, Inc. - publishes an issue full of nothing but scantily clad, barely clad, sometimes semi-nude women ... for no discernible reason other than corporate greed. And they use these images to the hilt with major yearround play on the magazine's Web site, plus lots of video, DVDs and even TV specials.

Hey, it's not like male athletes aren't out there selling a look. Sports marketing is all about selling a look. How many fashion spreads in GQ have athletes done over the years? How many football and basketball players have posed for posters?

There's a big difference, though, between male athletes and women athletes when it comes to marketing, and that is the huge deficit that exists between the money and attention available to each.

There's just not much money (relatively speaking) available in women's athletics in the United States. The entire purse of a Duramed Futures Tour tournament is often smaller than the winner's share only at a Nationwide Tour event.

If Mr. Gregory can click his heels, crinkle his nose, blink his eyes, snap his fingers and make these disparities disappear, well, what's he waiting for? If his delicate sensibilities are offended by a female athlete posing for a simple glamour shot (or posing in a bikini for his corporate cohort's annual flesh-fest), maybe he should start campaigning for more sponsorship opportunities for those athletes rather than attacking their entrepreneurialism.

Mr. Gregory looks at a few glamour shots on the Play Golf Designs Web site and imagines escort services. Who's doing the stereotyping? Who is betraying an inability to recognize women for something other than their looks?

The touring professionals who work with Play Golf Designs are independent contractors. They are businesswomen responsible for their own financial success or failure. They don't have an annual salary or paid healthcare and vacation time like employees of Time. They don't have the big-dollar opportunities available in men's golf; in fact, many of them play on developmental tours where the check for finishing 15th might not even cover the hotel bill for the week.

And Mr. Gregory attacks them over a few glamour shots. He must walk through life cringing at the site of skirts above the knee, averting his eyes if - gasp! - a little cleavage enters his field of vision.

Grow up.

I've had the good fortune to be acquainted with Play Golf Designs founder Nisha Sadekar, and several other of the Play Golf Designs golfers, for several years. All the women who work for Play Golf Designs are professional in every sense of the word. They are fierce competitors. The are all intelligent (Yale and Stanford are among the schools present on their resumes) and extremely hard workers.

"I personally have hosted several PGD golf outings, and I can assure you that Nisha Sadekar runs her events with class and only the utmost professionalism," says Kim Kouwabunpat, one of the PGD professionals. "We are professional athletes who compete at the highest level and all of us take our professional image very seriously. If you were to profile the 22 athletes on the PGD roster you would find that they consist of former top collegiate golfers from leading Division I universities such as Stanford, Duke, UCLA, and the University of Texas; former NCAA champions, current LPGA touring professionals, and top developmental tour players. I highly doubt that any one of these professional golfers, whom are very highly respected amongst their peers and colleagues, would ever join or even be associated with an organization that could be construed as an 'escort service'."

Nisha herself is a whipsmart businesswoman who has built from scratch a very successful company in a short amount of time.

And yes, her company is marketed in a fun, flirty way. There are many such companies out there, companies that match up professional golfers with corporate outings - Mr. Gregory may not be aware of it, but every player in golf, up to and including Tiger Woods and Arnold Palmer, hires himself or herself out for corporate events. These management companies also match their clients with club events, with clinics, with other "appearance fee" opportunities. It's one way the bigshots in the game pad their bank accounts; it's one way the up-and-comers try to make ends meet. (Mr. Gregory manages to throw "bachelor parties" into his article, while failing to mention all the charity events that PGD professionals attend. Again, who has the dirty mind here?)

Play Golf Design's "hook," so to speak, is that its roster of professionals is comprised entirely of women. And if all of those women happen to be smart, funny, and attractive? In what industry, in what line of work, would that not be played up in the company marketing plan?

"Why isn't it OK to dress fashionably and be proud of our femininity without being criticized?" asks Kouwabunpat. "A polished, well-rounded look is marketable and a marketable image is good business."

If you read the Time.com article you're given the impression that something dirty is going on at the Play Golf Designs Web site. But anyone who then clicks over to the PGD Web site will be left wondering, "What in the world was that guy talking about?"

Glamour shots. The horror.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Johanna Westerberg

johanna westerberg picturesJohanna Westerberg is a veteran of seven seasons on the Ladies European Tour, and today in the first round of the Ladies German Open she posted her career low, a 65.

Westerberg's career best finish on the LET are runners-up at the 2007 Finnair Masters and 2008 Turkish Ladies Open. She finished 22nd on the money list in '07, and was 36th in earning in 2008.

Johanna is getting a little help from her fiancee in Germany this week. That would be fellow Swede Joachim Johansson, who is caddying for her. Joachim Johansson ... does that name sound familiar? If you're a tennis fan, it surely does.

Johansson - whose nickname is "Pim Pim" - is a professional tennis player. And a pretty good one. He was a player on the rise in 2004 and 2005, reaching the semifinals at the 2004 U.S. Open, before shoulder injuries derailed his career. He's undergone a couple surgeries since then and played sporadically. But before the injuries, he peaked at No. 9 in the WTA world singles rankings.

Pim Pim (hey, when a guy is nicknamed Pim Pim, I say use the nickname) also holds the WTA tour record for most aces in one match - 51. That happened in the 2005 Australian Open against Andre Agassi. Pretty remarkable given that Agassi, along with Jimmy Connors, is generally regarded one of the two best service returners in tennis history.

According to the LET, Johanna and Pim Pim plan to get hitched next year.

johanna westerberg pictures

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Ash & Ash on Golfweek TV

ashley davis and ashleigh korzack

"Ash & Ash" are Ashley Davis (left) and Ashleigh Korzack, whom you probably remember from the Golf Channel series Highway 18. The lifelong friends are back on "television" with a new show on Golfweek TV called The Look. Ashleigh described the show to me as "a weekly fashion and lifestyle show," and in the sneak peak clip you can see Ash & Ash talking to Geoff Ogilvy and Padraig Harrington, among others.

Ash & Ash are also writing a blog on the Golfweek Web site. "We don't plan on just covering the PGA and LPGA," Ashleigh said, "we want to get out there to the Futures Tour, Hooters Tour, Nationwide, Champions, AJGA, USGA, etc. ... We want to be everywhere checking to see what is happening and what's hot in the fashion world of golf!"

Ashleigh also said the duo hopes to expand their coverage into other lifestyle areas such as travel, cars, luxury goods and even real estate.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Ji Young Oh

ji young oh pictures

We've already featured two other winners from this weekend - Marianne Skarpnord on the LET and Elisa Serramia on the Futures - but, of course, the bigger winner from the weekend was the winner on the LPGA Tour: Ji Young Oh.

Ji Young was the winner at the Sybase Classic, outdueling playing partner Suzann Pettersen over the final round and ultimately pulling away for a 4-stroke victory.

It's the second career LPGA win for Ji Young, who is in her third season. The first was the 2008 LPGA State Farm Classic, and Oh finished 26th on the money list last year. This victory moves her up to eighth on this year's money list.

Elisa Serramia

elisa serramia pictures

Elisa Serramia was the winner over the weekend of the Duramed Futures Tour's Mercedez-Benz of Kansas City Championship. It's her first win on the Futures Tour in what is her rookie season.

But she's not a rookie tour player - before coming to the Futures Tour, Elisa spent several seasons playing the Ladies European Tour.

The native of Spain turned pro in 2004 after winning the British Ladies Amateur Championship in 2003. In 2005, Elisa earned Rookie of the Year honors on the LET with a 47th-place finish on the money list. She improved to 32nd in 2006, posting multiple Top 10s including a career-to-date best on the LET of third at the 2006 Ladies Italian Open.

Previous posts about Elisa Serramia

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Marianne Skarpnord

marianne skarpnord pictures

Congratulations to Marianne Skarpnord, who earned her first career win on the Ladies European Tour on Sunday at the Deutsche Bank Ladies Open.

Skarpnord, from Norway, is in her fifth season with LET status, and she's had success before, but no wins until now. Skarpnord had seven Top 10 finishes on the LET in 2008, including a runner-up at the Ladies Irish Open. She finished 16th on the LET money last year and with the win at the Deutsche Bank moves into first on the 2009 money list.

In 2007 Skarpnord played mostly on the Telia Tour, winning three times and leading that LET-feeder tour in money.

Marianne's Web site is available in both Norwegian and English and includes her blog.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Maria Verchenova



Jay Busbee of Yahoo's Devil Ball Golf does one little post about Maria Verchenova, and the Web explodes in a Verchenova. The Web cries Maria. Behold the power of Devil Ball.

Actually, behold the power of Maria Verchenova, the first Russian golfer to make a name for herself on a professional tour. We've written about Maria several times here on Golf Babes; check out more Maria Verchenova pics.

The above image is from Maria's photo shoot for Golf Punk magazine.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Tiffany Prats

tiffany prats pictures

A native of Charleston, S.C., who grew up in Florida, Tiffany Prats was an All-State selection in high school who went on to play collegiately at Miami. She graduated from Miami in 2006 with a bachelor's degree in Sports Management (and a minor in Business Administration), but following shoulder surgery stayed at Miami into 2007 for her senior season - during which she was a team captain.

After a college career with many Top 10 finishes, Tiffany turned pro in 2007 (although her first taste of pro game was in a single Futures Tour appearance in 2005).

Her pro career was delayed a bit by a second shoulder surgery. Tiff got into another Futures Tour event last year, but mostly played on the Suncoast Series. She posted a third-place finish in the Suncoast's Q-School Prep Series tournament last September.

And in 2009, Tiffany is a rookie on the Duramed Futures Tour. She has picked up a few sponsors, including Sassy Golf and Mic (a new apparel company). If you'd like to "befriend" Tiff, she's set up a Web site through the social networking serving Ning. Check it out at tiffanyprats.ning.com.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Ashley Prange

ashley prange pictures

Ashley Prange recently completed a new photoshoot, and we thank her for sharing the above photo with Golf Babes.

Ashley says of her outlook this year:

"I am looking forward to just being myself this season and playing some great golf. Even though patience is a virtue, it is time for me to move on and get to that next level.

"My goal this season is to step onto the first tee and tee it up with no expectations. I have learned over the years that I tend to put an immense amount of pressure on myself. This year I just want to enjoy myself and just let it happen without trying to force things. Even though I will still keep my aggressive swagger on the links ... haha."


Ashley started the year off with a bang, finishing third in the Futures Tour season opener in late March.

Her schedule (and yours) permitting, you can book a round of golf with Ashley, or book her for a clinic or outing, through Play Golf Designs.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Cristie Kerr

cristie kerr pictures

Congratulations to Cristie Kerr on her big win in the LPGA Michelob Ultra Open on Sunday. It's career win No. 12 for Cristie, who in addition to being one of the most talented players on tour is also one of the most consistent.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

First Pitch: Brittany Lincicome and Momoko Ueda

brittany lincicome first pitch

LPGA.com points out that two LPGA stars recently had the honor of throwing out the first pitch at major-league ballgames. Brittany Lincicome (above) did so on April 30 in Tampa Bay, and Momoko Ueda (below) did so earlier in April in San Diego.

momoko ueda first pitch