The LPGA Twitter Champions - A Baker's Dozen
February 8, 2013
by William Szczepanek
I recently started using Twitter. I have ignored it for years because I thought only 140 characters were pretty useless. I can now say that I was wrong. I have not yet experienced twitterphoria, but I have to say it has been fun. Anyway, once I started using Twitter and following the LPGA golfers, I had one of my geeky ideas. I put on my beanie with the propeller and loaded an Excel Spreadsheet and started one of my nerdy analyses to determine the twitteratti of women's golf. This article is somewhat tongue-in-cheek and somewhat serious. I will let you determine which is which.
I looked at both the LPGA and Symetra Tours and the number of followers each golfer had acquired. I recorded results over a 2-month period to see trends. The results started out pretty much like I expected and then they shifted in a way I found intriguing. Some notable golfers are followed on Twitter without having to try too hard and others are followed because they try very hard.
Who are the most followed woman golfers on Twitter? The
answer may be surprising.
Without further ado... Drum roll please...
All That Glitters Also Twitters
1. Natalie Gulbis @natalie_gulbis
It's not too much of a surprise that Natalie Gulbis leads the way in Twitter followers. She has been one of the most popular golfers of the last decade and her appearances on Trump's Celebrity Apprentice have made her known also to many who don't follow golf. She is one of the few real stars on the LPGA Tour and is definitely one of the men's favorites. She won her fist tournament at age 4 and was breaking par at age 10. She averages a few tweets per day with lots of scenic pictures of both her and the golfing landscape.
2. Paula Creamer @ThePCreamer
In second position is the quintessential girl next door and all around American as apple pie, Paula Creamer. She is a favorite of the little girls who like to imitate her by wearing pink, but is also followed closely by the guys who like her glitz. The "Pink Panther" of golf spends a great deal of time giving autographs and posing for pictures with fans. A regular tweeter, Paula also posts many pretty shots from her daily life which includes a lot of glamour stuff.
3. Michelle Wie @themichellewie
Michelle Wie has been one of the most recognizable faces on the Tour. At an elegant 6' 1" she is hard to miss. Her success at a very young age thrust her into the spotlight as the youngest player to qualify for the USGA at age 10. She then turned pro at age 16. After graduating from Stanford U she has struggled this past year, but will be back strong in 2013. Another regular tweeter with great pictures, especially from back at home in Hawaii. She also must be hungry a lot, because she posts a lot of pictures of food.
4. Suzann Pettersen @suzannpettersen
Suzann Pettersen, the blonde Norwegian, has been a regular on the leader board for a number of years. She would be just as successful as an alpine skier and has an athletic profile that shouts... success. She tweets a bit less than the others, but regularly with a good number of golf pictures.
5. Brittany Lincicome @Brittany1golf
Brittany Lincicome, called "Bam Bam" because of her driving prowess is one of the tour's most popular players. She is regularly in contention. She is also one of the most ardent tweeters, currently holding 2nd position in the total number of tweets for LPGA players. She is often remembered for her eagle on the final hole of the Kraft Nabisco to win the tournament. Kristy McPherson would just as well forget that moment.
At this point the results started to move more from those who have been successful on tour for awhile to those who are new to the Tour or have been successful at presenting themselves well on Twitter. This is also the point where the professional tweeters take control.
6. Christina Kim @TheChristinaKim
Christina Kim is one of the most flamboyant golfers on the LPGA Tour. She is one of the nicest and most caring of all LPGA golfers. As a tweeter she has no equal with no one within 10,000 tweets of her. She is in regular contact with many on the Tour and posts constantly. She may be the consummate tweetaholic. Her style is out there for everyone to see. Like it or not Christina is a breath of fresh air in a sometimes overly-stilted venue. She had a difficult past year in many ways, but succeeded in retaining a limited LPGA card in Q school. The LPGA needs Christina Kim and it is good to know she will be around in 2013. While in Q school most golfers stopped tweeting... not Christina. She would have had to deal with Twitter withdrawal.
7. Lexi Thompson @Lexi
Lexi Thompson is another long driver and is poised to be a long term great in the LPGA. Another of those who have grown up while playing in the LPGA, she has all the tools and a great attitude. She is growing up in front of our eyes and appears to be one who can handle the limelight. She tweets a lot with a good deal of casual pictures. Having only been on the Tour for one year she will likely rise in the rankings quickly. And, how cool is it to have a 4-letter first name Twitter handle?
8. Paige Mackenzie @Paige_MacKenzie
On the Tour since 2006 Paige Mackenzie has been a steady performer on the course consistently in the thick of things. She is very approachable and I have seen her chat with youngsters as she walks between holes at tournaments. She's a fun person to listen to on the Golf Channel and on Twitter she is the ultimate professional with many tweets and playful pictures.
9. Blair O'Neal @BLAIRONEAL
Big Break MVP, collegiate champion, two-time SI Swimsuit feature, 2-time Arizona State Sun Devil collegiate long drive champion, Blair Alana O'Neal plays on the Symetra Tour and is the well known face of Cobra/PUMA Golf. In 2008 Blair was named by "One of the Hottest 50 Athletes of All-Time" by Sports Illustrated. Her Twitter entries are largely shots of her modeling for Cobra/Puma which seems to be enough for her to engage a big following. Glad to see her playing more golf and hope to see more posts about her successes.
10. Sandra Gal @TheSandraGal
The Gal from Germany, Sandra, has lit up the courses across the U.S. with her solid play. You cannot tell if she is playing good or bad by looking at her. She is always calm in her game and has one of the most fluid putting strokes in golf. A regular tweeter, Sanda combines artistic photography with some terrific golf photo shots. Talk about being cool - she recently posted a set of pictures of her wading into a swamp to make a shot while an alligator was eyeing her nearby. She came out of the situation unscathed with a birdie and looking classy all the while.
The 11th and 12th and 13th are very close so I will list all three giving us 13, a baker's dozen. Another reason for a baker's dozen is that these gals are really cooking.
11. Sara 'No H' Brown @SaraBrownGolf
Sara Brown, the 2-time Big Breaker and two-time Michigan State University Female Athlete of the Year (2007, 2008) got her LPGA card for the 2011 season. On the Symetra Tour in 2012 she was in the top ten for nearly the entire season. She will be playing on the Symetra Tour in 2013 and is expected to return to the LPGA in the near future. She has all of the tools along with being tremendously likeable. She tweets regularly and often with other golfers both on the LPGA and with those who are working to make the Tour.
12. Azahara Munoz @AzaharaGOLF
A regular face on the Golf Channel, Azahara Munoz has a great following on both the LPGA and the LET, Ladies European Tour. She was the NCAA Individual Champion at Arizona State in 2008 and LPGA Rookie of the Year in 2010. Azahara finally found her game on the Tour this past year winning her first LPGA event, the Sybase Match Play Championship and placing in 9 top tens. As as tweeter par excellence (no pun intended) she tweeted on Golf Channel during a tournament and I was lucky enough to receive one of her tweets. Thanks, Aza.
13. Kristy McPherson @KRISTY2208
McPherson began her LPGA career in 2007 with a
respectable showing. Her career blossomed in 2008
through 2010 with 16 top ten finishes. She had surgery
this past year and will be getting back in the swing of
things soon. She posts lots of great casual pictures.
Some other notables include Annika Sorenstam and Lorena Ochoa who have more followers than most on the list, but who are no longer on the Tour. Anna Rawson made a splash a couple of years ago and has continued with a very good following due to her modeling career and fascinating tweets from cool and exotic places.
A fast climber on the list is Cheyenne Woods, the niece of Tiger Woods, who played in a couple of tournaments this past year and just graduated from Wake Forest. She is another who, if she gets her game together, can make a big impression on the golf world. Another fast climber is Mallory Blackwelder, currently on the Symetra Tour. Her mother, Myra Blackwelder, was a member of the LPGA Tour and Rookie of the Year in 1980. Under the tutelage of her mother she has committed to living the golf life and enjoying it.
Some of the other top-rated golfers did not make the list. Maybe they were busy practicing. Not a problem, Twitter is not for everyone.
Nitty Gritty Twitty
So, why do this? Usually at this time I try to make some kind of cultural comparison, like the fact that our language is being destroyed by technology that forces us to use the smallest words possible, or that short text messages often are miscommunicated, but in this case I am really impressed by the level of usage by all golfers and their ability to connect with fans. All of these ladies have a very positive attitude about life. It's good to read things from people with attitudes like this. I'd probably have a more positive attitude if I could play golf as well as they do.
The LPGA needs to market effectively. These ladies make about one fifth of the money the guys make and they only have a few recognizable names to those who don't regularly follow them. While we all realize that the purpose is marketing and many of the golfers appear to be using it for that purpose, it is also for the fans. As long as the golfers remember that they need the fans and to treat them with respect, and vice versa, then it is all pretty interesting because everyone wins.