It seems as though every sport, profession and association has taken on a preoccupation with which of their members is the â€œhottest.â€ What used to be left to calendar companies, beauty pageants and all things Hollywood has spread to every corner of modern life. Soon, sites will be launched announcing the National Association of Quilters â€œHottest Stitcher,â€ or perhaps the local plumbersâ€™ union will come out with a â€œMiss Monkey Wrenchâ€ calendar. For the LPGA, itâ€™s time to meet Sandra Gal, Golf Digestâ€™s â€œHottest Golfer of the Year.â€
In golf, the â€œhotâ€ industry is clear in its meaning, but at a certain point, self-consciousness forces the organization to mention that the woman in question really can play golf as well. In this regard, Sandra Gal is able to help Golf Digest out, despite only a few years on the tour.
Born in DÃ¼sseldorf in 1985, Gal toured golf resorts with her family as a childhood influence, and joined the German National team at the age of seventeen. In 2007, she won the Ladies European Amateur, and qualified for the LPGA in â€™08 after a winning career at the University of Florida. In the same year, she was Czech Champion and was ranked first in the German Golf Federation. Ok, thatâ€™s pretty â€œhot.â€
Gal was a member of the victorious Solheim team in 2011, and recently won her first tour event at the 2011 Kia Classic. Sheâ€™s also starting to flirt with the majors, having been first round leader at the Womenâ€™s British Open. Yes, I agree, thatâ€™s â€œhot,â€ too â€“ (Is that what you meant? We are talking about the same thing, right?)
Itâ€™s always interesting to look at the rest of a personâ€™s profile, and Galâ€™s is heavy-duty. She studied ballet for over a decade, and credits dance with helping tremendously with balance. At six feet, she describes herself as too tall, not something you hear around the ballet studio that often. She also plays the violin, and for anyone who has ever tried that, itâ€™s a similarly maddening pursuit of control, concentration and minute gradations of execution, just like golf and dance (although no lifts are required in the former two.) Well, the way I look at it, itâ€™s getting â€œhotter.â€
So, thereâ€™s your â€œhotâ€ golfer for the year. However, thereâ€™s that pesky tendency on the part of some individuals and organizations to push the definition into the shallow end. Swagger disagrees with Golf Digestâ€™s decision, and offers five alternatives, including Anna Rawson and Blair Oâ€™Neal. Neither has ever won anything, but Swagger says â€œWho cares? Theyâ€™re hot.â€ In defense of Rawson and Oâ€™Neal, emerging as leading golfers from their countries, colleges and Q schools is hot enough, and they donâ€™t deserve the bashing. The beautiful Spanish golfer, Beatriz Recari, is offered up as an alternative (they were careful to note that she has two wins so as to avoid seeming superficial or creepy). Natalie Gulbis and Paula Creamer rounded out the list, first rate golfers, to be sure, but theyâ€™re the age of my children, so watch it â€“ in golf terms, theyâ€™re family.
I donâ€™t have a lot of experience with â€œhot.â€ Iâ€™ve never been â€œhot,â€ except when I was running a fever. And, thereâ€™s nothing wrong with being, feeling or receiving a tip of the hat for beauty. Still, when I see sites launched by leading organizations entitled â€œGorgeous Gals of Golfâ€ and â€œGolf Babes,â€ l feel a moment of angst, hoping that they will go on to give a fitting account of the individualâ€™s achievements and real life qualities, past the world of X and Y.
Donâ€™t let anyone paint LPGA players as objectively vacuous. Iâ€™ve met them, and theyâ€™re not. Sandra Gal is holding up her end of the bargain nicely, and it will be fun to see if she emerges as a tour presence. Meanwhile, being able to play a G flat major scale in octaves, pull off a pas de deux from Swan Lake and shoot 64 twice in the same yearÂ ainâ€™t exactlyÂ “cold.”