With over seven million combined social media followers, Paige Spiranac has brought the sport of golf and the pop culture around it to a new level of awareness helping to make it more accessible
THE EARLY YEARS: In her younger years, Paige Spiranac trained as a gymnast with the help of several coaches including her mother, a professional ballerina, who choreographed her floor routine, through the ranks to elite gymnast en route to her goal of hoping to become an Olympian until she suffered physical injuries derailing her gymnastic hopes. Determined to pursue sports, she was fortunate when her father took her to a golf driving range, forever changing her life.
Ms. Spiranac fell in love with the game ‘at the first swing” and became committed to playing professional golf. Gifted with her natural raw ability to connect with the golf ball, her coach, Leslie Spalding commented “She worked the ball more than any player I had ever been around: low cut, high draw, bend it around a tree. She had all the shots… And then you combine that with an absolutely incredible short game. She has some of the best hands I’ve ever seen, male or female.” In 2010 she won five of seven tournaments in the Colorado’s junior golf circuit, quickly becoming one of the top junior golfers in the world. While playing on a golf scholarship for the University of Arizona, her problems with social bullying continued from childhood into her collegiate years. Before transferring to San Diego State University in her sophomore year, she commented, “I’d wake up in the morning hating life and didn’t want to leave my room because I knew I’d have to go be around those girls.”
NEW BEGINNING: Overcoming much of the challenges of the bullying of her past and making new friends in San Diego, the scratch golfer excelled in golf helping the team win numerous tournaments including the Mountain Conference Championship for the first time in the school’s history. Her winning ways continued with the 2015 Colorado Women’s Association Match Play Championship. She joined the Cactus Tour as a professional golfer winning and placing in the top 10 places in several tournaments, but earning only $8,000, too little to make a living. While playing golf and practicing trick golf shots, the social media platform, Total Frat Move, posted a few of her videos creating a social buzz about the stunning athlete and her golf skills. Her social media presence went from a few thousand to 100,000 followers in a few days. This was a new beginning.
As her fan base grew into the millions, she was awarded a sponsor exemption to play in the Omega Ladies Classic LPGA Tournament in Dubai. Since she was not an LPGA player, some tournament contestants were vocally harsh in their comments about Ms. Spiranac playing in the tournament. Beginning with her childhood medical condition until now, social/cyber bullying returned. In the December issue of Golf Digest Magazine, Paige Spiranac was selected for the cover story, and LPGA players were outraged that an LPGA player was not selected instead. So once again the social/cyber bullying continued.
By focusing on herself and not what others thought of her, the self-described “Tomboy” became even more self-determined and empowered, and now has reasons to be thankful. On the problems of social/cyber bulling, Ms. Spiranac reflected, “I became an ambassador for Cybersmile almost 4 years ago after struggling with cyber bullying myself. Not only was I experiencing it on social media, but I was also experiencing it in my private life when a personal picture of mine was shared without my consent. I was blackmailed, threatened, and my privacy was invaded. It was a very difficult time in my life, and I didn’t want anyone else to go through what I was going through, so I decided to do something about it. Cybersmile has not only helped me personally but so many others as well. I’ve been lucky enough to be able to speak at both high schools and middle schools, talking about the harms of cyberbullying while also educating parents on how to better support their child who is experiencing cyberbullying.”
THE GOOD TIMES: Every year Sports Illustrated Magazine creates a swimsuit issue, and for the 2018 issue Paige was selected to share her story and participate in a beachfront photoshoot in Aruba. Remembering the experience, the now SI model said, “I never could have imagined I would be in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. It was an amazing experience. Aruba was beautiful and the crew was incredible! It was an emotional and empowering moment for me. I mentioned that a personal picture of me was leaked earlier and it weighed on me for years. I started to hate my body because of it and felt ashamed. I finally took my body back! I felt so confident after that shoot. MJ Day (Editor in Chief of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit) and the entire team were hyping me up the whole time and telling me how strong and powerful I looked! That issue was especially meaningful because they tackled so many difficult topics that women face every single day. We all have a story to tell. It is so much more than beautiful women in bikinis. It’s women being empowered by their bodies, but also feeling beautiful from the inside by knowing all of the amazing things we are capable of”.
As her social media following continued to build to several million, good times continued for the celebrity golfer including creating the iHeart Radio podcast, Playing A Round with Paige Renee, a fun loving, entertaining, provocative, and let us add, informative podcast. Kudos to her and her producer Amy Sugarman. When asked about the podcast and its format, selection of its conversational guests, being scripted or non-scripted, Ms. Spiranac added, “Playing A Round started in February and I was apprehensive at first. Podcasting is very different from anything I’ve done before, and I wasn’t sure if people would listen to a woman-led golf/sports podcast. But the feedback has been amazing! It’s a place where I believe my personality really shines through. I’m allowed to be unfiltered and push boundaries which is something I was always so afraid to do before. It’s a non-scripted show with a wide variety of guests from athletes to movie stars! We try to keep it fun and light. We know this is a hard year for everybody, so we try to make everyone laugh – most of the time at my expense when I share all my wild stories of my unconventional life. Producer Torrie Miraldi and I also have fun doing our girl talk segments. It’s a little bit of everything for everyone!”
With so many followers on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tok-Tok), Paige Spiranac has managed to create volumes of media content keeping her existing followers engaged while expanding her fan base. When asked, “How do you do it?” With her always engaging smile, she said, “It can be challenging at times to continually come up with ideas but I’m lucky that there’s so much to do within golf. I cover everything from instruction, to club reviews, to silly videos showing how much fun golf can be. I always try to stay authentic to myself so most of my content isn’t meant to be taken too seriously. I want my followers to laugh and smile when they come to my social media pages!”
On a personal note, I asked Paige, “Carpool Karaoke with James Corden is an entertaining, fun show. When I think about you, the golfer and social influencer, I envision a new television show (or YouTube) called “Golf Cart Cruising” with Paige Renee. The show would feature you with entertaining guest golfers, like actors “Nice Guy”, Josh Duamel and “Scratch”, Alfonso Rieiro ……. Play a few holes together, banter along the way, share a few golf tips, and of course all the time, have fun. Well, what do you think about my idea?” Without hesitation, she replied, “I absolutely love that idea! The great thing about golf is that so many people love the game. I’ve met more people than I can imagine through golf. I’m a big advocate for getting more people to play because it’s a great way to network and connect with new people. A show like that would definitely bring even more people in!”
As a golf personality, a celebrated social influencer, and more importantly, a genuinely nice person, Paige Renee Spiranac shared her thoughts about tomorrow; “It’s hard to say because the social media landscape is always changing, so who knows what will be popular at that time! I try to just take it day by day since it’s so unknown. Although I do hope my podcast (and social media presence) continues to grow and that my content also continues making people laugh and smile”.