Paige Spiranac is one of the most popular athletes on social media, with millions of followers on her Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages. She’s known for being the “hot golfer” on tour and posting trick-shot videos on her pages, but her story goes much deeper than that. Paige became a professional golfer, but it took a lot of hard work to get there. And on the way, she faced a massive controversy that would come to define her life.
Paige Spiranac shows us who she is
Paige Spiranac is an American social media personality and professional golfer. Spiranac is one of the more unique athletes in her sport. The Chive described her as “a sexy, athletic, smart, nerd.” Spiranac tries to use her influence to show how much fun golf can be and to make the world a better place.
She also uses her platform to promote anti-bullying, speaking out on the experiences she went through when she was young. Spiranac likes to embrace the fun in life, posting fun videos on social media to inspire and encourage her followers. But there’s more to the 25-year-old than just her social media pages.
Paige tells her story
Paige Spiranac was born in Denver, Colorado on March 26, 1993. Growing up as an athlete, she discovered golf almost by accident and ended up becoming one of the most famous golfers on the planet. The 25-year-old has millions of followers on all her social media pages, and she has graced the covers of countless magazines.
But it wasn’t always so glamorous for Spiranac. To get to where she is today, the golfer went through some of the biggest ups and downs one could possibly go through. Her career has always been surrounded by controversy, and she still deals with it on a daily basis.
Sports are in her DNA
Paige was born into an athletic family. Her father, Dan Spiranac, played college football at the University of Pittsburgh. In 1976, his team won a NCAA championship. Her mother Annette, meanwhile, became a professional ballerina. Sports are in the Spiranac family’s DNA.
But it wasn’t just Spiranac’s parents who were athletic. Paige’s older sister Lexie went to Stanford University on an athletic scholarship and competed on the track and field team. Paige grew up in Monument, Colorado, and she dreamed of one day becoming an Olympic athlete. With the pressure of coming from such an athletic family, would Paige achieve her goals? Or would her dreams eventually be crushed?
She wanted to become a gymnast
With Olympic dreams, Paige began to train in the sport of gymnastics. Sports are in her DNA, so it should be no surprise that Spiranac immediately began to dominate. Determined to become a great athlete like her parents, Paige trained six days per week, sometimes for up to seven hours at a time.
Paige was a star, especially when it came to the vault and floor routines. She jumped from level six to Elites, which is like becoming a professional athlete straight out of high school. One day, Spiranac was invited to the Karoli camp, which indicated she was on track to have a chance at one day competing in the Olympics.
But her Olympic dreams get crushed
With all of her success in gymnastics, Paige moved to Colorado Springs so she could train at the gym that produced some of the biggest names in gymnastics, like Kerri Strug. Spiranac also started home-school, in part because it gave her more time to focus on her career in gymnastics.
But one day, disaster struck. When Paige was 12, she fractured her kneecap on multiple occasions. The injuries were serious enough that she was no longer able to compete as a gymnast. With no school to attend or sport to compete in, it felt like everything had gone wrong for Spiranac.
She was bullied growing up
Part of why Spiranac was home-schooled was because she was bullied a lot in school. Paige had a severe case of asthma, which meant she couldn’t sleep over at friends’ houses. She also had a rare scalp condition that caused her hair to fall out. Because of this, she wore her hair in a bowl cut.
Paige says the problems she faced made her a target for the bullies at school. She felt like the weird kid with all the problems and says other kids basically shunned her. Spiranac even claims other kids threw rocks at her during recess, just like bullies have done in movies.
Paige starts to golf
With gymnastics no longer an option due to her injuries, Paige had to decide whether she wanted to keep competing in sports. She tried tennis for a bit, taking lessons from her aunt who was a former pro. But Spiranac didn’t feel as interested in tennis as she’d been in gymnastics.
One day, Paige’s father suggested she try golfing. She gave it a shot and immediately fell in love. From that point forward, Spiranac was committed to becoming a professional golfer. Paige continued home-school, focusing a lot of her time on the course so she could one day become a professional.
She was born to play golf
Spiranac started to compete on Colorado’s junior golf circuit, and she immediately found success. Though she was still early into her golf career, Paige won five tournaments in just seven tries on the circuit. When she won the 2010 CWGA Junior Stroke play, she became a top-20 junior player in the world.
Paige’s early success in tournament play made her a hot commodity in the golfing community. Playing on the Future Collegians World Tour, she became a top-five college recruit. She became a two-time West Region Player of the Year and even a first-team All-American. Only one question remained: where would Paige go to college?
Paige gets a scholarship
With interest from many top college programs, Spiranac ultimately decided to accept a scholarship to the University of Arizona. Coming from a small town in Colorado, attending Arizona was a big culture shock for the golfer. Being a golfer and home-school student, she’d never really spent a lot of time with people her own age.
During her freshman year, Spiranac only competed in three different events. Her best score of the year was a 73, which she reached twice in a single tournament. But Arizona didn’t feel right. She says she became the victim of “mean girl stuff,” claiming other female athletes had spread some nasty rumors about her.
The golfer transfers to SDSU
Spiranac became miserable in Arizona, so she decided to transfer to San Diego State University. For the first time in her life, Paige felt like she was welcomed by her peers into an environment that worked for her. Her coach, Leslie Spalding, deeply believed in Paige’s potential to become a great golfer.
Finally, Paige started to translate her raw skills into tournament success. In her sophomore year, the golfer earned First-Team All Mountain West honors after earning fifth- and sixth-place finishes in two tournaments. At the NCAA Central Regional Championships, she finished in 19th place. Things were finally moving in the right direction.
Paige hits her stride as a golfer
After a stellar sophomore year at SDSU, Spiranac worked even harder to accomplish her golfing goals. In her junior year, the golfer earned Second-Team All-Mountain West Honors. But this time, when she competed in the Mountain West Championship, she finished in the top-10.
By the time her senior year came around, Paige had been named captain of her golf team. “Paige had a profound impact on changing the culture of the team,” said coach Leslie Spalding. Spiranac’s coach says she had a contagious work ethic and personality. And by her senior year, the whole golf team was rallying around Paige.
She wins a championship
Prior to Paige’s arrival, the SDSU Aztecs had never won a conference in women’s golf. But by the time Spiranac was a senior, they were favorites heading into the Mountain West tournament. Paige was stellar throughout her senior year, and she earned all-conference honors. But her season would not be complete without a championship.
At the Mountain West tournament, Paige led things off for the Aztecs. The front nine was tough for her, as she ended up four over par. But with a dominant back nine, she finished with an even-par 36. Spiranac’s contribution was key, and it helped propel San Diego State to victory.
She celebrates the huge victory
With the first championship in school history, Paige and her teammates had a huge celebration. After the victory, they all plunged into Poppy’s Pond next to the 18th green. Spiranac says it was one of the absolute happiest moments of her entire life.
But eventually, Spiranac’s seemingly perfect circumstances would become what they’d been before. During their senior year, the golf team made a trick-shot video that got some serious attention on the Internet. Soon after, however, Paige’s Instagram feed started to fill up with harassment and hurtful messages. People called her awful names, told her she was ugly and even said she was a horrible golfer.
Paige starts to get attention
While she was golfing competitively, Spiranac also enjoyed to play golf in a more relaxing setting. She started to make golf trick-shot videos and post them on her social media pages. The video Paige and her teammates posted gave her a taste of Internet fame, but it also taught her that with that type of fame also comes a lot of unwanted attention.
At the time, Spiranac was still working on her game in hopes of becoming a professional golfer. But getting a spot on the tour was increasingly difficult. Fortunately, Paige’s newfound Internet fame actually helped her get her start as a professional golfer.
The golfer becomes Internet famous
Before Paige Spiranac came around, golf and social media didn’t really mix. But as Paige continued to post trick-shot videos, she started to get more and more attention. One day, without her knowledge, a friend of Spiranac sent a photo of her to a writer at a popular sports blog called TFM (Total Frat Move).
TFM spotlighted Paige on the blog, and her social media pages immediately went viral. Spiranac had about 10,000 followers when TFM shouted her out. Two days later, more than 100,000 people were following Paige. As her pages continued to grow, opportunities started to present themselves to the golfing sensation.
She gets invited to a pro tournament
With Paige’s popularity surging, she started to get approached from seemingly everyone. Equipment and apparel companies, possible agents, and even tournament organizers started to take notice of the star golfer. In the summer of 2015, Spiranac received an unexpected, life-changing direct message on Twitter.
The message came from a golf executive in Dubai, who invited her to play in a professional tournament. It was actually the first time he ever invited a player to a tournament via social media. The tournament had been struggling to find effective ways to raise awareness, so inviting Paige — a golfer with one of the biggest circles of influence in the sport — to play was an easy decision.
Paige accepts the invitation
Despite her popularity, Spiranac wasn’t making all that much money at the time of her invitation. She dreamed of playing professionally, but she had a long way to go before she could become a pro. Despite their athletic achievement, Paige’s parents didn’t have the money to pay for her travels on the mini-tours.
Spiranac had been hoping to become a pro, and the invitation was her golden opportunity. What young, hungry aspiring professional golfer wouldn’t take advantage of the opportunity, especially with a sponsor offering to pay the airfare? Paige accepted the invitation, and she was set to make her pro debut in Dubai, in December 2015.
The golfer is criticized for her decision
Despite accomplishing one of her biggest goals, Paige faced a huge wave of backlash. Hall of Fame golfer Laura Davies said she didn’t know Spiranac “from a bar of soap.” One headline about the golfer read “with more selfies than birdies, golf shouldn’t need Paige Spiranac.”
Even though other players were upset with her appearance at the tournament, Paige understood. She mentioned the only pictures newspapers printed of her were selfies in tight dresses, which didn’t present the whole truth of who she was as a golfer. It was the one of the first times anyone was building a career through social media, so no one — including Spiranac — knew exactly how to react.
Paige plays in her first pro tournament
Spiranac finally made it to Dubai. When she arrived, she was so nervous that she puked from all the anxiety. Paige missed the cut, finishing in 101st place out of 107. But though she fell short, her presence at the tournament had an impact no one could’ve ever expected.
Paige created a media frenzy like the tournament had never seen before. TV crews came to the pro-am and press conferences for the first time ever, and the tournament blew up on social media. More importantly, the pro players on the tour realized the exposure Paige brought gave them an opportunity to showcase their skills to a big audience.
But she questions whether she should keep playing
Paige brought exposure to the tournament, but she returned home more frustrated about her low placing at the event. At one point, she was even ready to walk away from golf and all of the attention that came with it. But after receiving mentorship and training from a friend, she realized she wanted to return to the sport — and win.
The golfer worked harder than she’d ever worked before, completely rebuilding her swing. And rather than accepting the offers from tournaments that kept coming in, she decided to refine her game. She started playing on the Cactus Tour, which paid far less than the tournaments that repeatedly sent her invitations.
Paige becomes a top amateur golfer
In her Cactus Tour debut, Spiranac finished in a tie for 14th place, winning a prize of just $100 out of the $12,080 purse. Even in women’s professional golf tournaments, that’s a microscopic prize. But Paige quickly turned things around, finishing in a third-place tie at her next event and qualifying for the Scottish Open (in which she finished 58th).
Then, at Scottsdale’s Orange Tree Country Club, Spiranac did something she’d never done before: She won a tournament. Facing Hannah O’Sullivan, then the top-ranked amateur in the world, Paige came out on top in a sudden-death victory. With the victory, she became one of the top-25 amateurs in the world.
Spiranac’s pro golf career comes to a close
Paige continued to compete on the Cactus Tour, but she never managed to win another tournament. She managed a couple more top-five finishes but eventually made the decision to switch to social media full-time. Where a top-five finish at a tournament could often pay less than $1,000 in winnings, a sponsored post on Spiranac’s social media could bring in thousands of dollars.
Spiranac never officially retired, but her professional golf career ended after she returned to Dubai and missed the cut once again in 2016. With the retirement, however, Paige now had free time to start working with sponsors and spark her social media career.
Paige makes it her mission to grow the sport
She may not have realized it at the time, but no female athlete in the world saw more engagement from their followers than Spiranac. When she decided to pursue social media, Paige’s agent introduced her to women’s golf legend Annike Sorenstam.
Sorenstam was an eight-time Player of the Year and won 72 LGPA tournaments. But the superstar golfer reminded Spiranac that she was best known for a weekend in 2003, when she played against the men. In other words, the sport of women’s golf could use someone with Paige’s influence. In order to earn respect, more people needed to take the sport seriously.
The golfer partners with anti-bullying groups
As a social media influencer, Paige makes her living by promoting brands to her passionate audience. Since retiring, she’s worked with several brands. One of the deals she signed was with Parsons Xtreme Golf, in which she would focus on growing the game of women’s golf, inspiring women, healthy living, and promoting anti-bullying.
After growing up as a target of bullying, she also decided to team up with Cybersmile Foundation, which is a group that provides global support and educational programs to help combat cyberbullying. She has also worked with 18Birdies, which is a golf app that’s designed to make golf a more social sport.
She works to encourage kids who are bullied
Spiranac has worked very hard to make a difference in the lives of kids who have been bullied. She has been outspoken about bullying on social media and has even spoken to kids at the Boys and Girls Club about her experiences with bullying.
In 2017, Paige returned to the Dubai Ladies Masters and spoke about all the abuse she had endured as a professional golfer — from people online, to even reporters and fellow golfers. Though she wasn’t able to latch on as a professional golfer, Spiranac knows she can still have just as positive of an impact on the world by using her platform to speak about the causes she cares about.
Paige falls in love
In 2016, Spiranac received a life-changing direct message on Instagram. It was a minor-league baseball player named Steven Tinoco. One night, he ran into her in the lobby of a Top Golf and asked to take a picture. The next day, he sent her the photo on Instagram and asked her out on a date.
Being asked out over social media wasn’t anything new to Paige, but she said the message he sent was the nicest DM she had ever received. She played hard-to-get for months, but the two finally met up when Spiranac was getting her clubs tuned up at the Callaway facility in Carlsbad, California.
She gets engaged and sets the wedding plans
When Paige went on her first date with Steven, she admired his old-fashioned manners. She was happy that he took her on a real date and appreciated how he bought her flowers and opened up doors for her. He was a refreshing change from the men she’d previously dated.
Spiranac says he’s just a really nice, respectful guy who has a good heart. Though she’d been in a few prior bad relationships, she was excited to finally find a good one. He later proposed to her in Dubai, and the couple is preparing to get married in the near future.
This article was originally published on TieBreaker: Professional Golfer Paige Spiranac Shows Us Her Life in Pictures.
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