While there is no denying that Lexi Thompson’s appearance on the cover of the May 2015 edition of Golf Digest has generated a lot of interest and attention, to call her appearance controversial may border on exaggeration. Upon hearing the news that she was “topless” on the cover, it would have been for someone who had not yet seen the cover to interpret said cover as such.
The reality is that she is adorned in a towel, draped around her neck, with each end covering the essential areas of her exposed breasts. Taking into account that since 2009, male and female athletes have appeared on the covers of ESPN Magazine’s Body Issue in a complete state of undress, those covers could easily be considered as more controversial than Thompson’s cover.
Of course, there are elements of the cover, part of its Annual Power and Fitness Issue that may be considered shocking. Although Paulina Gretzky appeared on the cover last year, there has never been a female athlete to grace its cover in the same method as Thompson.
Photographed by legendary sports shutterbug Walter Iooss, Jr. (who has photographed many models in various states of undress for the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue), Thompson’s mother Judy was on-hand during the closed set shoot.
Thompson is among one of the brightest stars in the LPGA (such as Stacy Lewis, Cheyenne Woods and Michelle Wie) who share their workouts in the edition of Golf Digest. As women on the LPGA are able to outdrive the average 30 year old male by 20 yards, swinging like a girl is definitely the next big trend in golf.
Page 100 shows a dressed Thompson donning boxing gloves, pounding her strength into a bag. Declaring that a day feels weird if she does not work out, she wants a punching bag installed in her next house. Using boxing as a means of getting power with the whole body, it signifies how many athletes are using non-traditional workout methods to bring the most out of their athletic performances.
Editor Jerry Tarde writes in the magazine’s interior that Thompson’s cover displays a confidence and self assurance, which cannot be disputed. Perhaps the day will come when other female golfers shall grace the cover of the magazine in a similar fashion, resulting in malaise rather than controversy (similar to the pregnant celebrities that mimic Demi Moore’s cover from Vanity Fair in 1991).
Perhaps the point of tension is that fact that Thompson has been a significant part of the golf community since she was 12 years old. Her topless appearance on the cover of Golf Digest is a bold statement about her growing up, representing a new chapter in her career and her life. Currently 20, she is shedding the girl next door image that defined the first few years of her career.
There is no question that sex appeal has become an element in feminine golf. Since Natalie Gulbis set hearts pounding with her infamous yet popular swimsuit calendars, others have followed. Paula Creamer is not afraid to flaunt her long, statuesque legs, showing a confidence that may not have existed a generation ago. In addition, Belen Mozo has appeared in ESPN’s Body Issue, while appearing on annual lists online of the most attractive women in golf. Thompson has now crossed over into that realm, while not forgetting to be confident and empowered, making it par for the course.