By Barry Janoff
September 9, 2014: Sarcastically declaring "Golf Digest has a woman on the cover who makes her living . . . playing golf?" the monthly magazine boldly goes where few others have gone before: Putting an LPGA star on the front of its publication.
Michelle Wie gets to join an excluive club with her cover shot, in which she is seen wearing a crop-top adorned with a huge Nike graphic and a baseball cap that reads, Beast.
According to Golf Digest, "It’s been a rarity for LPGA pros to appear on the covers of national sports magazines: The last to appear as the main image on Golf Digest was Lorena Ochoa in August 2008; the last to appear on Golf Magazine was Annika Sorenstam in 2003 and the last to appear on Sports Illustrated was Nancy Lopez in 1978."
Earlier this year, Golf Digest took some heat for its May 2014 cover featuring Paulina Gretzky, daughter of NHL Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky and a woman who is perhaps best known for her form, albeit not on the golf course. Critics wondered very aloud why Gretzky had made the cover when LPGA stars have not.
Other non-pros who have appeared on Golf Digest's cover include Jimmy Fallon and Michael Phelps.
"Believe it or not, our interest in women's golf extends well beyond celebrities in sports bras," Jerry Tarde, editor-in-chief for Golf Digest, wrote on The Loop, the magazine's blog. "Golf Digest has always been about celebrating the best in the game, and right now, there are few golfers — men or women — who shine brighter than Michelle Wie."
In the October cover story, which comes with an ajoining pictorial, "Michelle Wie's 5 Ways to Light it Up," the 24-year-old talks about the reasons she believes she has enjoyed a career renaissance in 2014.
"Why, at age 24, almost nine years after I turned pro, am I playing my best?" Wie says in the story that she authored with Ron Kaspriske. "Well, a lot has changed about my game and my attitude toward golf. In talking to my coach, David Leadbetter, we believe it's a combination of factors that has made the difference — five, to be exact. We'd like to share those things here, in hopes that they can do for you what they did for me."
Wie writes that what she has "learned from my turnaround can be summed up in a quote from Winston Churchill: 'A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.' "
Her five reasons: I'm loving hitting driver, I'm physically stronger, my swing is easier, my putting style works and I got my passion back.
In addition to Nike, Wie's marketing deals include Kia Motors, Omega, McDonald's and Sime Darby (a Malaysia-based diversified multinational involved in such growth sectors as plantations, property, motors, industrial equipment, energy & utilities and healthcare). She earns about $10 million in endorsements, trailing tennis stars Maria Sharapova ($22 million), Li Na ($18 million) and Serena Williams ($11 million), according to Forbes.
Wie, who won the LPGA Lotte Championship in April and the U.S. Women's Open in June, has been out of action since suffering an acute stress reaction in her right index finger at the Meijer LPGA Classic in early August. She is scheduled to play this week in the Evian Championship on the Evian Resort Golf Club in Evian-les-Bains, France.
Editor's Note: Wie had to withdraw from the Evian Championship due to ongoing after-effects of her hand injury. Evian Championship wrote on its Twitter account today (Sept. 11): "Unfortunately, @themichellewie came back for #EvianChamp but had to withdraw, due to the thumb injury that she is recovering from."
"I love golf again. I can't wait to get out on the course and practice," Wie summed up iin her Golf Digest story. "I remember a time when it was grind, grind, grind, and I didn't see any results. Now I'm seeing results, and that's partly because of my attitude. Plus, I know much more about my swing. The ball is doing what I want it to do. That breeds confidence. Now when things go wrong, I know why, and I can fix them. In other words, I can just play."
The October issue of Golf Digest hits newsstands Sept. 16.