The National: Spiranac - "I was more naive when I first spoke out against cyber-bullying"

Often described as a golfer’s best friend on the first tee, a course starter is responsible for controlling the pace of the game by directing players to the tee at the right time, providing information regarding the course and calming frayed nerves, if any. The role is generally reserved for formally dressed, silver-haired men. This year, however, players will be introduced to fans and sent on their way by Paige Spiranac, the first-ever woman starter at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic tournament, which launched in 1989.

The American, who made her professional golfing debut at the 2015 Omega Dubai Ladies Master at the Majlis course in Emirates Golf Club, says: “It’s nice to be back for the Omega Dubai Desert Classic for my third year, and such an honour to be the official starter for the men’s tournament. They’ve just given me the list of all the names I need to call out. I was looking over that and stressing out a bit because I wanted to pronounce everyone’s names properly, especially since people mess up my last name quite often, so I know how it feels,” she adds with a laugh.

“I just want to do a good job, be respectful and make sure I start them off well. It’s also the first time that they’ve offered the role of the starter to a female. The decision is definitely a recognition of the growing role of women in the sport, which is great because they are trying to make the game younger and more appealing, and get more people interested.”

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