Golf glamour girl hits back after 'death threat' ordeal

Golfing glamour girl Paige Spiranac has hit back at critics after being branded a "gimmick" and subjected to a torrent of abuse and more worryingly, death threats.

Spiranac is a social media sensation, frequently wowing her some 1.2 million Instagram followers with videos of her incredible trick shots.

The 24-year-old beauty from Colorado is also a strong voice for women in the sport, one that is traditionally seen as being male-dominated.

But her impressive social media profile and mini-celebrity status are at odds with her lowly world ranking, forcing Spiranac to deal with the hefty fallout it has created.

Ranked outside the top 1000 women players in the world, Spiranac's invitation to the Dubai Ladies European Tour events in 2015 and 2016 sparked global headlines that kicked off a challenging period in the American's life.

One of the top players in women's golf, Laura Davis, commented at the time, "If she's here for any other reason than she's a great golfer, then it's a little bit pointless."

No doubt hindered by the mountain of pressure to perform and the fact she had been branded a "micro-celebrity" by the media, Spiranac missed the cut both years in Dubai.

And so sparked the ongoing debate about whether she was a model or a golfer and if she deserved the opportunities that had been afforded her.

"I had a really rough go of it both times I was here," Spiranac confessed about her experiences in the United Arab Emirates' biggest city.

"There was a lot of media, it was really stressful and I found the experience really hard. I said I wasn't coming back to play.

"People seem to think I got where I am because of the clothes that I wear. That's unfair to me and unfair to all of my accomplishments.

"I probably do more community service than any other professional golfer. For people to say: 'You only show some cleavage, that's why you have what you have,' is unfair.

"That's the injustice that we face every day as women and I see it a lot in golf."

More concerning for Spiranac was the ordeal she and her loved ones have had to endure as a result of her massive social media following and the negativity that can accompany it.

"I was harassed, my family was harassed. "I was receiving death threats, people were invading my privacy, I was being blackmailed. This was going on while I was trying to play," Spiranac told The Guardian.

"When it comes to the golf industry, I know that people see me as a gimmick. I don't think I am.

"If I was a guy and I had the same social following, I don't think people would call it a gimmick. They'd say it was great.

Despite vowing never to return, the 24-year-old did go back to the Dubai ladies event just last week - after accepting a role to announce the players for the start of the tournament.

The American was one of the most vocal critics of an LPGA policy to introduce stricter dress codes, slammed by many critics as a way of "body shaming" female golfers.

"I have always had a different fashion style. I always felt like I never belonged and it is tough because I am a good player," Spiranac said.

"I know what to do but I still don't like going to new clubs because I am worried someone will say my skirt is too short or I don't have a collar. Why does that even matter?"

"The people who are saying golf is progressive, if you look at them they all look the same.

"They are all middle-aged men. They obviously feel accepted.

"When you go to a golf course and look around, you see a bunch of guys, everyone looks like you so you are going to feel great.

"If you are walking in as a woman, you don't feel the same."

The 24-year-old is still considered a professional golfer but has recently taken time out of the sport to focus on a media career and her anti-bullying charity work.

As for the scrutiny her image continues to court, particularly from fellow female professional players?

"Life is great for them on tour and that's awesome but we need to think about everyday golfers."