Friday, December 26, 2014

The Wild Pre-Golf Channel Career of Lauren Thompson

Today, Lauren Thompson is a respected presenter for the Golf Channel, professional and polished. In her private life, she is, presumably, wildly happy, a wife and, as of recently, a new mother. She has it all.

But before all that, Thompson was a college student who needed to pay the bills, then a broadcasting aspirant seeking camera time to hone her craft. In those days, Thompson went by the name Lauren Brooke and worked in modeling (bikini and lingerie, among others), commercial and music video acting, and professional wrestling.

If you only know Lauren Thompson from her excellent work on the Golf Channel, then you've probably never met Lauren Brooke:

Lauren Brooke was the stage name Thompson employed as a model. In the photo above, she is working as a "booth babe" during a Las Vegas convention in 2008.

From the same general time period, here's a (low-quality copy) of a TV commercial Thompson did for an "adult" party line:

But it was lingerie and bikini modeling - sometimes just-barely-there lingerie and bikinis - that "Lauren Brooke" was known for across the Internet before she became famous for other reasons. As early as 2004, Thompson, as Lauren Brooke, began showing up on "laddie" type websites in photo sets such as this:

One of those sites was called Soopermodels.com, which offered an online girlie publication called Stare Magazine. It is now defunct, but lives on through the wonders of the Wayback Machine. From August of 2005 through May of 2007, Thompson - as Lauren Brooke - did 17 pictorials for Stare Magazine. A couple representative screenshots:

In 2006, Thompson was named to something called the USA National Bikini Team by ... well, by somebody. Here, here's a video that proves it:

All the risque (but never nude) modeling eventually got Thompson noticed. She started getting small bit acting or commercial work, such as the party line ad above, and such as this Jason Aldean music video:

Did you spot her? She shows up multiple times in a cowboy hat, crop top and denim miniskirt.

All the while, Thompson was using the name "Lauren Brooke." Why? Well, for a very good reason: She was hoping Mom wouldn't notice! In the following clip, Lauren explains that Mom found out what she was doing anyway, but that she was doing it for a very good reason: putting herself through college.

That video was shot just as Thompson was getting her break with the Golf Channel. But in-between the bikini modeling and the Golf Channel came something else: professional wresting. No, Lauren Thompson never wrestled herself. But she got valuable broadcast experience as an interviewer on Total Nonstop Action (TNA) Wrestling telecasts.

Before she joined Golf Channel, Thompson had her own website at theofficiallaurenbrooke.com. It's gone now, except (again) for pages saved on the Internet Archive and accessible through the Wayback Machine. On that site, Lauren touted herself as a "host - spokesmodel - voiceover" artist. On the homepage she wrote:

I was born and raised in Orlando, Florida and have been modeling for the past 7 years. I have an extensive resume in trade shows, commercials, voice-over and print work in the modeling industry, as well as pride myself in professionalism, punctuality and ability.

I am a very lively, upbeat and optimistic woman who isn't afraid to challenge myself or approach new endeavors. I would love to work with you!

A screenshot of theofficiallaurnebrooke.com homepage:

Some of the highlights from Lauren's resume, posted on that website in 2010:

Modeling & Acting
Modeling Abilities: Lifestyle, Runway, Swimsuit, Petite, Character
Acting Abilities: Commercial/TV, Film, Model, TV host & Infomercials

Special Skills, Training & Previous Roles
Skills: Accents, Bowling, Cheerleading, Computer skills, Dancing, Hiking, Horseback riding, Kick Boxing, Roller blading, Running, Snorkeling, Snow skiing, Swimming
Training: Auditioning, Commercial, Voice over

Current, Ongoing Contracts:
College Sports Minute on Hulu.com (host, weekly)
Golf Channel's "TOP TEN" (host, Golf Channel: Tuesdays @ 9pm)
Longwood Lincoln Mercury (Spokesmodel, Monthly commercial and radio spots)
TNA Wrestling (Backstage Interviewer: Thursdays @ 9pm)

So Thompson was already quite busy on the TV/video front by 2010, but had given up the lingerie/bikini modeling by that point. (A note on her website at the time says, "Also, please note that I will not do any nudity, thongs, etc.") She was well on her way, having landed her first Golf Channel gig as host of Top Ten.

We've barely scratched the surface of pre-Golf Channel Lauren Thompson photos that are out there on the web. Search Google - both the main search and the image search - for Lauren Brooke or Lauren Thompson if you want to discover much more. Happy hunting.

See also:

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Booty Patrol: Paula Creamer's Belfie

What's a "belfie"? It's a "butt selfie." When someone chooses to show off the ol' caboose. And if there's one thing you can say about the ol' Flogger here, it's that I like me some Paula Creamer booty. So I'm only too happy to share the belfie that she shared on Instagram:

More Paula Creamer bikini pics

That Time Fidel Castro and Che Guevara Played Golf

News recently broke that the United States is re-opening diplomatic relations with Cuba, the Communist-controlled island nation 90 miles from Florida with which the U.S. has had adversarial relations for more than 50 years. Many who heard the news thought of the realpolitik implications. I thought of golf.

Hey, do you remember that time revolutionaries Fidel Castro and Che Guevara played golf? Here they are, those crazy scamps, playing golf in their combat boots and fatigues:

What's going on here? Shouldn't communist revolutionaries detest an upper-class, capitalist-infested game like golf? Yes, and they did (although Che had played before growing up in Argentina).

Cuba once had a fair share of golf courses. In the pre-Castro days Cuba was ruled by right-wing dictator Fulgencio Batista. Batista liked America's money, and American tourists loved Cuba's beaches and its Mob-run casinos and fancy hotels. Cuba was a Caribbean getaway. Money changed hands liberally, both ways (just not into the hands of many ordinary Cubans).

But within a few years after Castro seized power in 1959 and replaced the right-wing dictatorship with a left-wing dictatorship, he kicked out the Mob and also legitimate American businesses. And he began plowing under those symbols of capitalist decadence called golf courses. Soon, only nine holes of golf was left in Cuba (other golf courses were returned to agrarian uses - think sugar cane.)

Historian Michael Beschloss provides the timing of the Castro-Che golf photos and a hint at what was going on:

A few years back CNN wrote this:

Castro himself once recalled that he had been mocking Eisenhower, but gave no specifics of the date.

"One day, Che and I went to play golf. He had been a caddie once to earn some money in his spare time; I, on the other hand, knew absolutely nothing about this expensive sport," he said in quotes published on Cuba's Television Camaguey Web site in 2007.

"The United States government had already decreed the suspension and the redistribution of Cuba's sugar quota, after the Revolution had passed the Agrarian Reform Law. The golf game was a photo opportunity. The real purpose was to make fun of Eisenhower."

CNN says that Che Guevara shot 127 that day and Fidel Castro came in at 150. (Maybe this is why Castro eventually shunted his old friend aside and Che died a pathetic death in Bolivia.) Given his terrible putting form, it's surprising Che had any history with the game:

In recent years, an aging Castro, in poor health, has turned over many of the day-to-day duties of dressing up in costumes and bellowing Marxist rhetoric - that is so 1982 - to his brother. And Brother Castro has liberalized a few things here and there, including allowing some golf course construction. A 2013 article in The Economist explains why:

... the main reason for the sudden enthusiasm for pitching and putting is a need to attract more tourists. The island pulled in 2.8m visitors last year, far fewer than the 4.6m who flocked to the Dominican Republic, its smaller neighbour.

... The $350m Carbonera Club, to be developed by Esencia, a British firm, is the first project to get the go-ahead; another course is expected to be complete by the end of the year. A 1,300-berth marina, the largest in the Caribbean, is to be built in Varadero.

A true opening of the Cuban economy and liberalizing of the country's policies will probably have to wait for the death of the Castros. But I would be willing to bet that 25 years from now Cuba will be one the premiere golf destinations in the Caribbean, and American golfers and tourists will against be flocking there.

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Saturday, December 13, 2014

Tiger Woods Gun Play: Remember This Photo?

Remember the time Tiger Woods played with guns while visiting Navy SEALs? Tiger took weaponry onto a shooting range in San Diego during a 2006 visit. Here's the pic:

Oooooo, I'm scared! Tiger looks kinda badass there. But I guess looking badass isn't too hard when you're holding a handgun and a shell casing is flying. If this photo were taken today, I imagine we'd see Dan Jenkins' photo on those targets. Here's the actual cutline that goes with the photo:

San Diego (May 31, 2006) - Professional Golfer Tiger Woods squeezes off a round from a handgun during training at a shooting range outside San Diego. Navy SEAL instructors assigned to Naval Special Warfare Center at Coronado taught Woods basic marksmanship skills during a recent visit. U.S Navy photo by Chief Journalist Deborah Carson

A few months earlier Tiger Woods was also in San Diego hanging out with Navy SEALs (remember what Hank Haney wrote about Tiger's SEALs obsession?):

And the cutline:

an Diego (Jan. 27, 2006) - Pro golfer Tiger Woods views a static display of various SEAL weaponry. Tiger was in San Diego for the Buick Invitational Golf Tournament and spent the afternoon learning about the Special Operations Community. U.S. Navy photo by Cmdr. Jeffrey Bender

(You can enlarge the photos by clicking on them.)

Friday, December 12, 2014

Jason Palmer Is the European Tour Golfer Who Chips One-Handed

Notice anything unusual about the image above? Right: The guy who is chipping is using only hand on that chip shot. His name is Jason Palmer, and he's a member of the European Tour in 2015. Here's the short video clip from which that screengrab was taken:

The shot in the video was recorded during a Challenge Tour tournament in 2014. That's the feeder tour into the European Tour (the Web.com Tour of Europe), and that's where Palmer played in 2014. He's a third-year pro who always struggled around the greens, then switched to one-handed chipping and hasn't looked back - even when fans and other golfers looked at him kinda funny for doing it.

And why should Palmer be concerned about those funny looks? Since switching to one-handed chipping during tournament play, he won his first Challenge Tour tournament, finished eighth on the money list and won promotion to the European Tour!

There's nothing unusual about hitting chip shots one-handed during practice sessions or warming up before a round. Many, many pro golfers do that, and even some recreational golfers. For example, here is Miguel Angel Jimenez warming up around the green with one-handed chip shots (while talking on his cellphone!)

But Jason Palmer is the first in memory who has taken this practice method onto the course during tour events.

Here are two videos in which Palmer discusses the technique and demonstrates it more fully:

Search YouTube for "one-handed chipping" and you'll find many videos of golf instructors recommending practicing chip shots one-handed. For example, this one:

Monday, December 8, 2014

Another Little Kid Throwing a Tantrum After Missing a Putt

A few days ago we showed you the video that is only now making the rounds in the rest of the golf world: the adorable little kid (toddler, really) who just can't deal after missing a short putt.

But guess what? Lots of little kids throw tantrums after missing putts! Throwing tantrums is part of being a little kid. This youngster is so angry about missing his putt he tries to hurl the golf ball at the cameraman:

That doesn't get him any satisfaction, so he picks up that stupid ball, walks it over to the edge of the green and hurls it into the rough!

You go kid! Show that golf ball who's boss! Watch the video:

Later, the kid bashes his putter over his head in frustration:

Oh, wait, that was Woody Austin at the 1997 Verizon Heritage. Sorry kid, my bad.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Are Martin Kaymer and Kirsty Gallacher Dating?

Is Martin Kaymer dating Kirsty Gallacher? That's the rumor du jour, and if it's true all I can say is: He sure knows how to pick 'em.

Kirsty is the British television presenter and model who is the cousin of European Tour (and Ryder Cup) golfer Stephen Gallacher, and the daughter of British golf royalty Bernard Gallacher. Allegedly, it is Stephen Gallacher who set her up with Martin.

You might remember that for several years Kaymer - now a 2-time major championship winner - was dating onetime Big Break cast member Allison Micheletti, who is now Allison Modano after marrying hockey legend Mike Modano. And Allison was quite the catch for Martin back then.

The reports of a Kaymer-Gallacher romance all come from London media, which is notorious for trafficking in rumor and half-truths. (Kind of like golf blogs!) The cougarlicious Kirsty is 38 years old and recently divorced from rugby star Paul Sampson. Kaymer is 29.

The Daily Mail, citing the The Sun tabloid, recently wrote:

Gallacher, who split from Sampson in August, has reportedly been on two dates with Kaymer after being introduced to the golfer, who is known as the 'Ice Man', by her cousin Stephen.

Stephen Gallacher, who is also a professional golfer, brought the pair together during the Ryder Cup in November.

The duo 'reportedly hit it off' straight away but are not yet officially an item. A source told The Sun: 'Kirsty has had a really tough year with the breakdown of her marriage. She is going through a difficult time with her divorce.

'Now hopefully she has found something to make her smile again. She is single for the first time in 14 years and she is allowed to have some fun.

'There is plenty of flirting going on and they are clearly very fond of each other.'

Not exactly confirmation of a Kaymer-Kirsty coupling, especially considering the source, but I hope it's true. He gets to date a smokin' hot cougar, and she gets to have fun with a fit younger man.

But Kirsty, just so you know, I'm available too!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

We All Know the Feeling: Little Kid's Tantrum After Missing Short Putt

We've all been there, kid.

This little guy misses a short putt with his plastic golf club and ball, and he just ... can't ... take it!

Note to kid: Missing short putts will always feel like this! But you'll learn how to keep the feeling under wraps. Just part of golf. (But once this kid gets a little older, he'll understand he could have just blamed it all on those punched and sanded greens.)

Boy, imagine if Lexi Thompson had reacted this way when she missed a 1-inch putt earlier this year.

Want more? Here's another adorable little kid throwing a tantrum after missing a putt.

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