When it comes down to likes and popularity measured by social media, the king of the mountain in the golf world is in fact a queen, Paige Spiranac. Instantly recognized both by her style on and off the course as well as natural golf talent, Spiranac is literally at the top of her game. However, Spiranac has had her share of challenges in the sport as well as in life, and that path to her stardom was not easy. The story starts in the early 1990s.
In spring of 1993 Paige Spiranac was born in Colorado. Her father, Dan Spiranac, was a famous name in college football, making the roster of the Pittsburg Panthers during the mid 1970s. Paige’s mother, Annette Spiranac, also had her claim to fame in ballet, becoming a well-recognized ballerina in her own right. Between the two, their offspring easily would have been a natural for some kind of sport success.
A Star Rising
Like many girls at a young age, Paige started her sports exposure with gymnastics, an ideal environment for her growing frame as well as a unique way to teach balance and poise at young age that carries through one’s entire life, similar to ballet. Paige quickly moved up in her ranking in gymnastics, going from the basic class level to Elites in record time.
Private Health Issues
However, despite showing great promise for her athleticism, Paige was struggling with health issues in her early years. She was afflicted with a condition that cause her hair to fall out repeatedly. To hide this issue, her parents made sure Paige wore her hair short. No surprise, Paige as a young girl was often mistaken as a boy from a distance.
A Critical Emergency At a Young Age
Spiranac as a child was challenged with asthma, a serious problem with the lungs that can literally cause a child to be unable to breath, especially when excited or working physically. So, Paige had to carry an inhaler from an early age as well as know how to use it properly. The local emergency room and Spiranac were familiar partners meeting multiple times.
Odd Girl Out
Paige suffered repeatedly being unable to live a normal girl’s life. And, kids being cruel, her classmates and similar her age picked on Spiranac regularly or ostracized her. She was quickly labeled as a kid with a problem. Kids moved away from her in the lunchroom, and they called her names or threw rocks at her to make Paige go away from them.
It Was Time for a School Change
Spiranac’s parents were not oblivious to what their daughter was suffering through. To protect her and stop further damage that would last in life otherwise, Paige’s parents took her out of school and planned to homeschool her. That was a huge impact on both her outlook on life as a child as well as her attitude towards sports.
More Time to Focus, Less to Worry
Now at home, Paige no longer had to worry or be distracted trying to protect herself at school. Instead, Spiranac was able to pour her energy into her studies as well as gymnastics were she was already formidable and not timid towards her competition. The girl devoted herself to her school and athletics. It was not uncommon for Paige to be “working” on her schedule and demands six and even seven days a week.
Gymnastics Taken Out of the Future
Paige suffered a second hard blow when her dedication and push to succeed in gymnastics went too far. Falling down is common and frequent in the sport, but a hard push to be the best has a price. Spiranac fractured her kneecap two times, once too many, and that pretty much shut down any further push in the sport for fear of destroying her leg and ability to walk at all. Gymnastics was now out.
Reassessment and Recovery
After a few weeks she got up on her mental feet and asked her parents what sports would still be possible. All three put their heads together. A relative who was also a professional athlete suggested her sport, tennis, but it didn’t stick. Spiranac’s father then thought up an alternative: golf. History happened in the space of a single day’s conversation.
The second that Paige got her hands on a club, sparks started to fly. She swung her first hit and the entire idea and sport connected with her mentally. Just like gymnastics, Spiranac poured herself into the sport instantly, and she quickly achieved a level of competency as strong and as fast as a wildfire running with 40 mph wind. That dynamic convinced her parents that Paige found her new sport to treasure.
A Vivid and Apparent Raw Ability
Parents can be forgiven for being biased about their child’s abilities, often seeing the best and ignoring otherwise apparent mistakes. However, Paige’s golf ability was not a fluke; her coach, Leslie Spalding, realized quickly she was dealing with a natural talent that was exploding by the day. The raw capability just needed to be focused and channeled versus thrown around chaotically. Spalding knew she wasn’t dealing with an accident. Spiranac was going somewhere with her golf talent, and her coach was going to be part of the first chapter in that book.
The Scoring and Wins Begin to Roll In
Paige’s first big golfing wins started to show up in 2010 when she rang in the top title on the 2010 CWGA Junior Stroke Play. Her skill and talent also per Spiranac’s name on the top billing with four more tournaments that same year out of a total of seven attempted. And she added the West Region Player of the Year title two times to her award wall as well as being rated an All-American in the just as competitive Future Collegians World Tour. The sport dedication paid off; Paige was awarded a sports scholarship to the University of Arizona, solidifying Spiranac’s next chapter forward.
University Level Golf
With the Wildcats golfing team Paige has some of her best golf performance. She was a key player for the University of Arizona in the Windy City Intercollegiate, scoring her best performance in personal history her first year. The collegiate golfing level allows Paige to show off her talents, but she did not have the same kind of wild success socially. Her old social problems were still a barrier and problem, disrupting her life even as a young adult.
Some Things Don’t Seem to Change
Unfortunately, college classmates were being just as petty and vicious towards Paige as they had been in grade school, both jealous of her golfing ability as well as Spiranac’s now clearly visible charisma and beauty. She had a hard lesson revisited during the first year in college in how vicious gossip, innuendo and rumors could be to Paige. It was time to make a change.
Old Wounds are Hard to Heal
Soon enough Spiranac was again suffering mentally, feeling depressed and trapping a vicious circle of defending herself and dreading going to class each day. She knew clearly that she was being bullied, but Spiranac was still being serious affected by the attacks, which was also damaging her studies and her golf. So, Paige once again changed her education environment to stop the attacks; Spiranac transferred out of the University of Arizona and to another college to move forward again.
Moving Out West
Spiranac made a jump to San Diego with her new school choice, a place where an athletic young woman was totally normal to see, even in golf. By her sophomore year Paige was again on track and pushing for new golf titles in the collegiate circuit. To the University of Arizona’s loss, Paige won the Cal Classic, the Mountain West Championship and the First-Team All-Mountain West tournaments. Not only was she the top name on those titles, it was the first time her new school could claim title to the Mountain West Conference Championship.
Moving Up the Golfing Ranks
Spiranac was again popping up repeatedly in golf news. By 2015 Paige made history again winning the Colorado Women’s Golf Association Match Play Championship during its 100th tournament event. Her score was a eye-popping nine holes below par, a score her competition in Brittany Fan was unable to match and keep up with.
A Step Into a New Frontier
Golf was now her forte’, and Paige clearly a champion over her prior health problems and their related attacks on her psyche. No one could argue Spiranac was a force in her own right, and what quibbling or insults women might still trying to say about her flecked off like water on a windshield. And then she found Instagram. Similar to many Millennials, Spiranac embraced the early tools of social media, particular those that showed off photographs.
A Different Golfing Attention
Paige wasn’t oblivious or an idiot to her natural looks. She knew she had attributes that triggered attention. So, it was natural for her to like to pose for photographs and place a few online like her friends and peers did. The combination of her poses as well as playing golf at the same time, however, was a winning combination nobody saw coming. In a few short weeks Paige rocketed from just being known for amazing women’s golfing scores to also being a begin digital sensation as well.
Spell the Word “Viral” – S-P-I-R-A-N-A-C
Paige’s Instagram account blew up. Every photo, shot, action pose and still position added hundreds of followers by the minute. And the comments were not just limited to her looks. She got plenty of feedback on her golfing style and shots as well. She was used to attention, and the negative attacks from her young hers trained Paige well for cheap shots, but she wasn’t quite understanding the “viral” effect occurring with her account online.
One Thing Leads to Another
It was Paige’s Instagram account and related popularity that landed Spiranac yet another opportunity for a major golf tournament. As the viral effect continued she received a direct communication from David Spencer. He invited Spiranac to compete in a major new competition at the 10th Ladies Masters. Spencer was no small bit name; he was a famous executive in the leadership of Golf in Dubai.
Off to the Middle East
Paige immediately accepted the offer from David Spencer and secure her competition spot in the Ladies Masters. It was a nice package as well; Paige would receive an all-expenses paid trip, she would get to see a new part of the world and compete in another major tournament in her sport – a triple win. So, at the end of 2015, Paige embarked on her new professional golfing career. The critics were already sharpening their knives.
The Fight Begins Again
As soon as her name was announced, Spiranac was hammered socially by many internationally that she was only picked due to her looks and Instagram “flaunting” of her looks. Nobody in the professional circles wanted to give Paige credit for her long golf performance record. They simply focused on her photographs, labeling Paige with every denigrating insult a woman can receive today. However, she wasn’t going to back down this time.
Her Middle East first showing was typical of a rookie; the Masters are the zenith of the professional golfing because the tournaments involve the best, and Paige was just starting out, scoring but being eliminated in the first cut. It didn’t matter. Spiranac had made a showing and played well for her first Masters competition. The placing also won her immediate exposure and a few well-paying endorsement contracts.
One Year Later, Multiple Professional Titles
By 2016 Spiranac had figured out the professional game and was rising up the ranks quickly. She was consistently landing final positions in the top 20 in multiple tournaments and getting better with each one. Social media fandom continued to chase Paige to keep up with the news, both for her looks and now more importantly, her golfing performance. She was finally being recognized at the professional level.
The Big One Occurs
The Scottsdale Orange Tree County Club placed Spiranac against top woman amateur golf player on an international level, Hannah O’Sullivan. The tournament moved into a sudden-death phase, and it was Paige that took the win. The golf world finally accepted Paige as a true accomplished golf professional by her own right, regardless of Instagram or anything else.
A Freight Train On the Move
Spiranac’s wins continued right after the Scottsdale competition. All through 2016 Paige racked up top positions and wins, scoring both awards and money prizes. And then she was invited again to play the Masters in Dubai. The world had gone full circle, and Spiranac was again going to play the event that first established her as a professional golfer in the first place.
Conquering Golf, Now What?
Paige now finally had time to think about what else her life could have. She was a social media star but, more importantly, she was an accepted top golf professional. So now what? Paige began to think what else she could do with her hard-won fame and social media power. And what she realized was that the young golfer had the ability to make a difference and influence others.
No Chump Change Here
Paige was very savvy in picking up multiple endorsements, and she landed additional contracts with companies like Cybersmile, 18Birdies, Mizzen & Main and others. Additionally, Paige was landing regularly on the cover of multiple golf magazines and sports periodicals. Spiranac also began an additional career avenue as a golf sports writer, landing her first articles with Golf Magazine the same year.
Sitting on Top of the World
In 2017, Paige broke marketing thresholds further after locking arms in a marketing deal with 18Birdies, an app for golf play tracking and integrated with 30,000 golf courses in the software database. And Spiranac became the software’s human face for advertising, again skyrocketing her fame and visibility.
Spiranac Becomes Influential
Realizing her moment had arrived, Paige decided her growing roster of marketing and media partners had given her the stage she was looking for. Now she could start moving and making waves on what really mattered to her: golf and women, health, and most importantly, promoting resistance and influence for anti-bullying in school and life.
Sometime In Addition to a Guinness World Record
By 2018 Spiranac was making waves again trying to break a world record. The goal was to get a specific shot successfully that no one else had done in golf. She was partnered with golfer Tony Finau as well as Steve Tinoco. Except, while everyone focused on the breaking of the world record, no one quite caught on that Paige and Steve Tonoco were beginning to work on their own project.
Time to Get Hitched
Paige and Steve Tinoco were not strangers by 2018. They had in fact been personal and dating two years earlier. However, given her experience earlier in life, Spiranac kept her private life exactly that, out of the public. However, by 2018 it was becoming obvious how close the two were and a formal engagement was in place.
Haters Can’t Stop Hating
Paige continues to be accused of being a pinup magazine show for golf magazines and that, amazingly, she has no golf talent whatsoever. She’s just a bikini shot with a golf club. Spiranac has been truthful and honest that she’s still hurt by these slurs, but her skin has become tough over two decades of bullying, regardless of her beauty. And Spiranac has continued to steamroll her critics as a result.
Caught in a Hammer and Hard Place
Probably one of Paige’s hardest challenges has been to be taken seriously when she argues for women’s treatment in sports versus just being treated as eyepieces for male interest. Her arguments and position constantly gets contrasted with her own posing on Instagram in tight clothes and bathing suits. Yet Paige continues to keep pushing.
Further, Paige has moved proactively into the anti-bullying arena. Spiranac regularly uses her fame and visibility to emphasize better behavior and a resistance to bullying. In all the major golfing magazines Paige has continued to hammer on shutting down anonymous digital bullying as well as abuse she suffered. In 2017, Paige became the official face of the anti-bullying organization, Cybersmile.
Focusing on Kids
Paige now also spends a lot of time with schools and grade level children nationally, lecturing and providing workshops to help kids learn how to deal with their own challenges. Spiranac channels her childhood history with health and bullying to relate to the kids she works with, most importantly showing them they can succeed like her regardless of what they are dealing with right now. And, per Paige, this part of her work has become the most important chapter in her story.
What Tomorrow Brings
With a wedding to Tinoco and a new family life now in play, one would think that Paige has achieved an amazing amount of achievements and it’s time to relax. Everyone continues to ask whether she will continue to keep pursuing bigger and bigger titles on the Masters circuit or if she’s achieved enough.
A Little Bit of Humility
Time is catching up with Paige. She’s no longer the young buck fresh on the scene, and she acknowledges that she may very well not reach higher levels in golf than what she has done already. But Paige continues to look for ways to push golf among young women and girls, crafting a path for the next generation to move through easier. In that respect, Spiranac hopes her story and life motivates a new group of girls to do more because golf deserves it and so does sports.
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