Paige Spiranac: Social Media, Q-School & Golf Digest
Has anyone ever received so much attention without even possessing a tour card?
When Paige Spiranac turns up at an event, though, she brings something no other figure in the women’s game can replicate – not even world No 1 Lydia Ko. Headlines. Yards and yards of them.
When the 23-year-old took up an invite in Dubai at the end of last year, the tabloids went into a paparazzi-fuelled frenzy. And they weren’t the only ones. Spiranac has become a feature of American magazine Golf Digest, the publication even putting her on the cover of their May issue.
It all began when she was part of a trick shot video produced by her golf team at San Diego State University that went viral.
Now, at the time of writing, she has 787,000 followers on Instagram. Ko has a mere 85,000. Fame has given Spiranac exposure and supplied invitations to top tournaments, such as that Dubai Masters, where she shot 77 and 79 on a tearful pro debut, and the recent Scottish Open at Dundonald, where she made the cut.
It has also had its drawbacks. Spiranac admits she can’t believe some of things typed by keyboard warriors on the internet. But what does the future hold? LG met her to find out…
You’re one of the highest profile golfers not on a tour. How do you cope with that?
It has been interesting and it has been hard. I played my first pro event in Dubai and I didn’t play terribly but I didn’t play great. I don’t think people realise how hard it is.
They are seeing the beginning of my career and it is kind of hard to get the notoriety before you actually have the results. It has been this interesting dynamic.
Honestly, I wish it was the other way round. But it also nice because I have such a great following too. I have so much support and I wouldn’t be able to play golf if I wasn’t in this position.
Did you have any idea how much your Instagram account would take off ?
It was never the original goal. I never asked for it, it just kind of happened for me. Once I finished school, I wasn’t sure if I was going to pursue professional golf because, financially, I couldn’t do it. Now I have a little bit more help. Even last year, I couldn’t do Q-School because I didn’t have the funds to pay for the tournament so it’s nice now to be able to play events and get experience.
Now I have a little bit more help and more money I can do that.
Dubai was quite an emotional experience for you…
It was really tough. No matter what I shot, everyone in the world was going to know about it. It’s scary to put yourself out there and to have all those people out there and all the criticism too.
I am still young, golf is so hard and then, on top of all of that, to have people say ‘you should quit’, ‘you should stop’, it’s just discouraging. I have a lot more support too and all the good stuff helped out.
You went to college at San Diego State?
San Diego was great. Golf was always my focus but it wasn’t my main focus. It was always on education and I was team captain. I was head of our student advisory committee so I was doing so much other stuff. That was the most important thing. The thing I got out of college was to be a well-rounded person.
Golf is really important, but it’s not everything, so it is nice that I know that there are other things out there – other things I can do – with my degree.
How cool was it to be on the cover of Golf Digest?
Yeah, I still can’t believe it. I remember walking through airports and seeing myself. I remember a guy pulled the magazine out and I was standing behind him looking at it. He didn’t recognise me and he sort of turned around like ‘who is this person?’ It was incredible.
You have had to grow a thick skin presumably because the internet can be cruel…
I can’t believe some of the things people say on the internet. It’s just people saying whatever they want to say. Most of the time it’s just to get a reaction out of you, which I’ve found out.
They don’t really understand how hard golf is at the pro level and how different the courses are. We are not playing on local golf courses with easy pins and slow greens.
Your Instagram account says you are a gym addict. How much work do you put in on a daily basis?
I usually go out in the morning and work on my short game for a couple of hours. I will work out and then I’ll practise, work on my swing and I will play 18. It’s a grind every single day.
Will you have a look at qualifying at the end of the year?
I will. I am looking at the LPGA and I am also looking at the LET. I want to travel a lot and I think it would be perfect for my game to try to qualify and do that. I think I will probably lean more towards the LET qualifying school.
They always say that to get better, and to really work on your game, you have to travel around and play all different types of golf course and in all different types of weather. So I think that would be the most beneficial thing for me now.
Are you excited about the future?
I am super excited and very fortunate to be in the position I am. We will see how it goes. I always tell people that I may make it, or I may not. But at least I’m giving 120 per cent and trying as hard as I can.
Paige Spiranac was speaking at the Berenberg Gary Player Invitational at Wentworth.