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When you look into the story of Paige Spiranac, you see someone that has consistently been subject to criticism and unwarranted remarks. Whether it be the cruel mocking of an injury that ended her Olympic gymnast dreams, persistent jibes over a condition that resulted in her hair loss or sexist shaming of her golf game, she’s had it all. Speaking on the Golf Digest podcast, 'Be Right', Spiranac opened up on the abuse she received on her golf game prior to transitioning out of professional golf.
Spiranac amassed a substantial social media following during the later stages of her time at San Diego State University and as a result, was given the opportunity to be a guest starter at the Omega Dubai Ladies Classic on the Ladies European Tour. Her profile was the first glimpse in how social media can grow the exposure of a tournament.
After turning professional, she would earn victory in just her third start on the Cactus Tour but unsuccessful in her attempts to join the LPGA. Throughout that time, 'fans' were quick to pass comment. Like her childhood and college career, either about her physical appearance or her golf game.
Recalling the events on the Golf Digest podcast, Spiranac said, "It was really hard, because when people would come at me, it was about my golf game", she said. "As we all know, your ego is so tied in to how you play, and publicly for people to be like 'You suck, you need to quit', that was really hard for me and I took it very personally”.
Spiranac added, "My early interviews I talked a lot about cyberbullying, and I was kind of dealing with other things behind the scenes, so I was a big advocate for that. Things have progressed where I've stopped playing professionally and now social media has become my career”. The 28-year old is now a key ambassador for Cybersmile, a non-profit which provide global support and educational programs to help combat cyber-bullying.
Whilst online hate and bullying has no place in society, Spiranac did open up about her response to some of the criticism which was perhaps a little more warranted. Contrastly, she can now be seen sharing insight into tournament golf, her views on golfers and what's happening in PGA Tour events on her Twitter and Instagram profiles, as well as her own podcast, 'Playing a Round with Paige Renee'.
Describing the transition, she said, “It was hard because now I want to have a 'hot take', but sometimes it comes at the expense of someone else, and not in a way that's bullying. Now I'm Tweeting stuff about players, and it's funny, but I would get so upset about that before [if it were me], but it's not really bullying. I was just soft. I was a huge baby. You do have to have a good sense of humor, you have to be able to laugh things off”. Balance is perhaps the key word, although some of the remarks Spiranac has been subject to over the years fall woefully beneath that benchmark.
Spiranac is now the most followed golfer on Instagram, eclipsing the likes of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. Listen to the full interview on Apple Podcasts. (opens in new tab)
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James joined Golf Monthly having previously written for other digital outlets. He is obsessed with all areas of the game – from tournament golf, to history, equipment, technique and travel. He is also an avid collector of memorabilia; with items from the likes of Bobby Jones, Tiger Woods, Francis Ouimet, Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino, Adam Scott and Ernie Els. As well as writing for Golf Monthly, James’ golfing highlight is fist bumping Phil Mickelson on his way to winning the Open Championship at Muirfield in 2013. James grew up on the east coast of England and is the third generation of his golfing family. He now resides in Leeds and is a member of Cobble Hall Golf Club with a handicap index of 1.7. His favourite films are The Legend of Bagger Vance and Tin Cup.