That's how it looks to me.
In what appears to be a desperate attempt to reel in readers, a story appeared last week on TIME.com with the titillating title, "Lady Golfers for Rent: Escort Service for Duffers?" They say a good title is an important part of link baiting, and this lascivious lure certainly seems to fit that bill.
The blatant link baiting however, doesn't bother me... as long as a story is well written, accurate and engaging I have no problem with a couple of calculated keywords in its title. However, when the story underneath the title is poorly researched, exploitative and bordering on the slanderous, I take issue. And that's what it comes down to with the TIME article. In the TIME piece, Sean Gregory, writes about Play Golf Designs, the Las Vegas-based company of former Futures Tour player Nisha Sadekar.
PGD offers custom golf event planning and entertainment services to nonprofits, charities, corporations, and private groups. They act as a full service golf travel agency, booking the perfect accommodations, reserving the tee times you want at the courses you choose, and securing tickets to the most sought after Las Vegas shows.
You'd hardly know this from reading Mr. Gregory's article though, because he chose to focus on PGD's golf entertainment services, and proceeded to sex up the story so as to leave readers with the impression that something naughty and nefarious was going on.
In fact, Play Golf Designs works with a team of golfers, each with professional golf tour experience. These PGD Professionals will conduct golf clinics or animate team building exercises... they'll challenge your group to a closest-to-the-pin or power driving competition. This is the type of Golf Entertainment PGD offers. Their PGD Professionals are some of the best players in the world, each having played on the LPGA Tour, Ladies European Tour or Futures Tour. These are damn good golfers. Each one is also a beautiful woman and that, I feel, is where Sean Gregory found the fodder for his post. He, like many, realizes that where the male dominated world of golf meets glamorous feminine beauty is a very buzzworthy intersection.
Barely touching upon the golf expertise of the PGD golfers, Mr. Gregory preferred instead to fill his post with references to "buddies during a bachelor party", "substantial fees" and (my favorite) "shorts shorter than a tap-in putt".
I happen to know Nisha Sadekar. I've written about her as a fellow golf blogger and I speak to her quite regularly. We've also met on a couple of occasions in New York. She's the consummate professional and extremely dedicated to her business. She's also passionate about golf, as are the women she works with. And, they all have tremendous respect for the LPGA players. Nisha told me that what bothered her most about Sean Gregory's story was that by pulling her quotes out of context he had presented her as dismissive towards Lorena Ochoa, a player she clearly admires.
Mr. Gregory didn't attend a Play Golf Designs event nor apparently did he speak to anyone who has attended one. Had he done so... like I did... I don't think his story would have had the same lugubrious edge. Ryan Ballengee, writing on his popular and respected golf blog, Waggle Room, called the TIME piece "an extremely unfortunate example of lazy journalism and corporate hypocrisy".
We all know that journalism is in a state of crisis right now; facing declining readership and falling ad sales. I tend to think the sensationalism in this article was simply an attempt by Mr. Gregory... and/or TIME... to counteract that trend. However, the disregard he shown for Nisha Sadekar and the business she's spent years building, was careless and unprofessional.
"Golf Meets Glamour" Photograph: © Golf Girl Media