Teeing off and Turning to Sex

Teeing off and Turning to Sex

golf photoby Rebecca Mallory

What often happens to a TV show, consumer product, magazine, comedian etc. when they start losing money or relevancy? Yup. They turn to sex, after all, sex sells, right? When all else fails, appeal to the lowest common denominator in society. Hey, the almighty dollar is still king, right? Who cares who we exploit, who we harm or how we contribute to a crumbling culture?  Unless we as a society can agree on living by a basic moral code, we are doomed to fail just as other great empires of the past have done: Rome, Egypt, North Africa, Germany, etc. It starts with seemingly small decisions of moral behavior and then spreads throughout society. Take for instance, the golf industry.

My husband loves to play golf and subscribes to a plethora of golf magazines. I admit that I don’t get golf, I’ve never played golf, although he tried to teach me once. We realized quickly that our love for each other could be seriously jeopardized by him trying to teach me to golf. End of my golf lessons. From an outsider though, golf looks like a real gentleman’s/ladies’ sport. Visions of high society and class, green jackets, immaculately manicured greens, and well-dressed admirers following the elites around exclusive courses, clapping quietly at masterful shots.

Recently, a very classy and great guy, Jordan Speith, won the Masters. It was a thrill and pleasure watching him with his grace and composure. Bravo Jordan. That’s why I was stunned and shocked as I pulled this month’s issue of Golf Digest from my mailbox yesterday.

Now mind you, the cover of a golf magazine is, in my humble opinion, pretty standard; generally a guy with a club staring pensively as he gets ready to whack the ball. This cover was not that. A female golfer named Lexi, naked from the waist up with nothing but a strategically draped jacket barely covering her breasts. Are you kidding? Did we mistakenly get someone’s Playboy? It was disgusting and so out of touch!

Too make a long story short, I wrote a letter to Mike O’Malley, the managing editor, and expressed my shock and horror and canceling our subscription. I took a picture of the cover and sent it to all I knew who were golf lovers. Everyone had the same reaction. What were they thinking? I got on their website and emailed Mr. O’Malley to make sure he got the message. What happened next was what prompted me to share this with you.

Poor “Jeff” at the magazine apparently drew the short straw and was deemed fall guy to answer disgruntled readers. The first response to my unhappy email and subscription cancelation was a canned response ( a couple of my friends received the same one) with a bunch of excuses about how the photographer was this famous “god” of photos and that regardless of horribly poor taste, needed to be revered because of his name and what he had accomplished. Lexi was merely displaying her extraordinary physique and result of boxing expertise that helped her golf swing, blah, blah, blah. I’m no boxer either, but does being topless improve a left jab?

Jeff tried to skirt the issue the same way politicians do when they know they’ve been caught and are in the wrong: blathering on about anything but the issue at hand. Smut is smut. Just admit it. He even said that because I was offended at the picture, that I must be referring to the fact that Lexi was frowning. He should get an A for creatively skirting.  Subsequent emails back and forth eventually brought out the truth of Golf Digest’s philosophy and why this terrible decision was made.

Jeff: “Unfortunately, I do know that losing as many as 14,786 subscribers (bringing in $12 a year/a pop), which logically and ethically seems like way too many people to part with, would turn out to be a wash against simply selling just one new ad for one issue (at the outrageously steep price of $177, 422). The not-so-funny joke inside the office has always been that our salaries are roughly equivalent to just a tiny torn-off magazine page in one month’s issue. This archaic business model is the reason for the industry’s all-but impending demise. For the bottom line to be at the mercy of advertisers purchasing space in the magazine is a lot like the Native Americans costly mistake of relying on the British settlers for the supply of firearms, a partnership that led to their quick annihilation.”

And from a later email…”Helping someone play golf produces good feelings inside, and that’s what our magazine’s strong suit is. Continually having to interact (via the highly unsuitable method of email and/or the telephone) is hands down the most soul-sucking part of my job. What makes it worse are the times, and there have been a lot more in the last year than in my previous six years answering this email address, when I didn’t or wouldn’t have made that controversial decision, yet am tasked with being that (burning) bridge between any of our seven million readers and the inside of the editorial office here in Connecticut….”

So here’s my interpretation of poor Jeff and his job. He’s got a pretty awesome gig with Golf Digest. Mostly glamorous and prestigious, I’ll bet. Probably getting to hobnob with the Tigers and the Bubbas of the golf kingdom. Until it comes to stuff like this that forces us to come to grips with what we truly believe. What are our principles and values? How much are we willing to put up with before we admit to ourselves, “the Emperor has no clothes on!” I feel for Jeff. He has to make the choice that all of us do at various junctures of our lives. Do I bow to the fashion gods, the photography gods, the Wall Street gods because they’ve accomplished the accolades of men? Or do I stand for what I know in my gut and my heart to be right, true and steadfast? Is it worth losing my job over?  These days, you’re lucky to have a job! Only you can decide that.

I will have to say that reading between the lines of my email trading with Jeff, he was gracious and tried to stay calm with the 14,786 lost readers. He had to – part of the “short straw” job description.  I got the feeling that he hates doing it because he knows better. That’s a tough position to be in. Golf Digest rolled the dice for the shock and awe that would result. They got it. Whoopty do. Was it a wash? Worth it? After all, magazines, as Jeff so aptly stated, are a dying breed. The higher ups made a desperate attempt to appeal to unsuspecting but curious young boys and dirty old men with money. Pretty smart huh? Probably got them. Plus all 14,786 subscribers at $12 a pop is nothing after they sell one ad for over $177,000. Someone over there is good at gambling too. Hey GD subscribers! You’re not even worth $12 to them. Feeling special?

So America, what do you believe? What are you willing to do to protect your family? If stuff like this doesn’t bother you, it will get worse until your hot button is finally pushed. If we merely look on with the, “Hey, that’s just the way people are nowadays. What’s the use? Kids will be attracted to sex no matter what we try and do about it.” That’s exactly what we deserve and will get. Take a stand for what you believe. Will you change the world? Probably not. But you will be a positive example to your own children and grand children who may then perhaps model your example and become the next Jordan Speith. By the way Lex, nice abs….terrible role model. Bravo America!

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