LET star Sophie Sandolo gives new meaning to 'Skins' and sets off Europe vs. US Calendar Challenge!By AFT Rome Bureau Chief Lynne Guini - March 6, 2005
MILAN, ITALY. 28 year old French-born Italian Sophie Sandolo has broken new ground in golf's burgeoning glamour calendar market with a collection of semi-nude poses that are sure to spur fierce transatlantic rivalry with her American conterpart, Natalie Gulbis.
Not just a pretty face, Sophie has been on Tour for five years, and in her 70 tournaments to date has managed six top ten finishes (including a second place in the 2003 Spanish Open) and 14 top twenties. She most recently finished 34th in the ANZ Ladies Masters in Australia at the end of Feburary.
If the performances of Sophie and Natalie on the golf course leave little to choose between them (Sophie was 44th in the 2004 Ladies European Tour Order of Merit, while Natalie was 42nd on the LPGA 2004 Money List), their calendars can now do the talking.
"Golf needs more visibility, glamour and a new image," explained Sophie, who will be donating part of the revenue from sales of her calendar towards the relief effort for victims of the recent tsunami in South-East Asia.
"I've tried to bring my small contribution and hopefully open new doors which could bring more notoriety to the sport I play and I love so much. For that reason I've accepted the proposal to pose for a sexy calendar," added Sophie, a Marketing graduate from UCLA. "Women's golf needs both great players who are charming, fun and intriguing. We need to enrich the game of golf with a pinch of glamour and the elegance typical of the womanly grace.
"My first sexy calendar is intended to represent my love for golf, my desire for freedom and a touch of coquetry and I'm instinctively attracted by fashion, elegance and glamour."
Readers who followed our earlier report about the calendar boom will not be surprised to learn that the appearance of Sophie's calendar has caught the imagination of some of golf's most innovative marketeers.
Joseph King (pictured left), Chairman and Chief Executive of Gobra Innovative Sports Equipment, has announced his company's sponsorship of the Gobra Cup, a biennial calendar version of the Europe vs. US Solheim Cup for women professionals, which will be contested for the first time in 2006. "By sponsoring this new event, we hope to get substantial exposure both for women's golf and for the Gobra brand," he told AnyoneForTee.
"As befits a company which made its name in sporting foundation garments, and whose proud motto is 'Supporting Women's Golf for Twenty Years', the Gobra Cup will come in several versions," explained Mr King.
"There will be the A-Cup for 'All-clothed calendars', the B-Cup for 'Barely-clothed calendars', the C-Cup for the 'Cheekiest calendar' and, of course, the D-Cup for most 'Daring calendar' of all. We'll be putting some flesh on the plans in the coming months, but we expect competition of the highest level between Europe and the United States, with Sophie and Natalie hot favourites to be picked as the two playing Captains."
"Women's golf needs a new image," said Sophie (above and right). "There are great players on the Tour and we need the media to notice us. If the calendar helps put out the message that women's golf is worth watching then that would be fantastic."
"It will be good fun and women's golf needs to show more glamour," said Natalie (left). "There are a lot of good-looking young players in the game. I think it's good to show another side rather than us just playing golf."
But is there a danger that glamour will take too much away from the real meaning of golf, we asked? Natalie was absolutely clear. "You've got to perform on the course. The looks, the image — none of that matters if you can't back it up with strong play. That's why I work so hard. I realize that as a golfer, I'm a business. I'm the product. And I wouldn't want any of the attention and the merchandising if I played bad."
Once again, Sophie was in full agreement with her arch rival. "It's nice to be known for looking good - but I want to prove myself on the golf course too," she said.
Good luck to both teams and may the best girls win!