Women’s golf doesn’t always get the spotlight that it deserves and can sometimes be an underrated part of the sport when compared to the male game. Natalie Gulbis is one name that has managed to stand out though, and whether it’s her successful golf career or her other business ventures that have earned her fame and fortune, she’ll always be considered one of the key players in the sport.
Natalie Gulbis found her passion for golf at an early age and has been through many challenging moments throughout her career. However, she always remains an open book and strives constantly to be better, often proving that she can make a comeback even when people doubt her.
Her Early Years
Like so many professional golfers, Natalie’s obsession with the sport started when she was quite young. At four years of age, she started playing around with golf clubs and found that she had a natural talent for it, which lead to winning her very first tournament at just age seven.
Natalie went on from here to develop her skills further and continue to compete at a professional level. Her very first PGA tour as an amateur was when she was just age 14, with a handicap of 2. She attended Granite Bay High School and was the top player on the boy’s golf team which earned her a scholarship at the University of Arizona.
During her time at the school, she was a teammate of world number one Lorena Ochoa. However, after just one season there she moved on and left college to become professional. In 2001, she entered the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament in Florida and tied for third, earning her a card for the 2002 season and the start of a promising career.
Establishing Her Golfing Career
During her sixth season on tour, Gulbis finally won her very first tournament. From there, she ended up on the LPGA money list in sixth place thanks to over $1 million in earnings for the year and cemented herself as a serious name in the world of golf.
After her first tournament win, she managed to stay as a top 10 golfer in ladies’ championships, including a consecutive four wins that solidified her status during the 2005 LPGA Championships and the 206 Kraft Nabisco Championship.
Her very first professional win was during the 2007 Evian Masters in France which earned her a massive prize of $450,000. The win was a result of a playoff with Jeong Jang, where Gulbis managed a two-putt birdie and scored the final victory. In addition to these solo wins, she also played on the US Solheim Cup winning team in 2005, 2007, and 2009.
Physical Setbacks and the Fear of Retirement
Natalie suffered the kind of blow that most sports stars have nightmares about: a back injury. During 2008, she had her very first surgery to treat bulging discs in her back which was affecting her play. From there, she experienced many different surgeries and recovery periods which meant she was out of the game for quite a bit.
Gulbis has claimed she took a lot of inspiration from fellow golfer Tiger Woods, as he’s also had his fair share of back problems and injuries. However, Natalie’s back problems got so severe that she was close to calling retirement on her career and instead focusing on the other passions and interests that she had.
Thankfully, this hasn’t been necessary and she’s managed to work through the multitude of recovery periods to emerge successful and healthy. Having had a spinal fusion and a third discectomy, she’s now working on winning another tournament being spurred by her motivation for competition.
Female golfers always tend to attract more attention to their personal lives than their male counterparts and Natalie is no different. The pro golfer is married to Josh Rodarmel who played football for Yale and also started a Power Balance hologram bracelet brand.
Prior to this relationship, it was rumored that Natalie was romantically involved with pro golfer Dustin Johnson. Johnson himself has denied the affair ever occurred but Gulbis had spoken about it in a few interviews. Having two such high profile golfers involved in a relationship is bound to attract attention, so it’s no wonder everyone was so curious for further details.
Gulbis has also made it publically known that she wishes to start a family, however, has been unlucky falling pregnant. For now, she seems focused on her career and there are also rumors that she plans to run as a Republican congresswoman in Nevada in the coming term. As a public supporter of President Donald Trump and his party, there may be some truth to these alleged plans.
Celebrity and Media
Although many golfers and sports stars live their lives quite publically, Natale Gulbis seems to take this to a new level. The golf pro has a number of endorsements and activities going on which began with her very first magazine shoot in 2004, in men’s magazine FHM.
In 2004, she also released a calendar which featured some bikini shots, and it was subsequently banned from being sold at the 2005 US Women’s Open as the LGPA deemed it inappropriate. She featured more in FHM, writing an advice column for some time, as well as appearing in various print media publications.
Natalie also had her own reality TV show on The Golf Channel, The Natalie Gulbis Show, which followed her around and gave a glimpse of her everyday life as a golf champion. However, the show didn’t last as long as she had hoped, and so she went on to other TV appearances.
Some other notable cameos she’s had include the second season of Celebrity Apprentice alongside Donald Trump, an episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and a showcase on The Price is Right. Natalie Gulbis is by far one of the most publicized golfers in the country, and all of these appearances plus her winning through golf has earned her an estimated net worth of $4 million.
Fun Facts About Natalie Gulbis
Natalie lives her life quite openly thanks to her TV show, various appearances across media, and being a high profile sports star. However, there are some things you might not know about the Latvian American golfing champion.
- Natalie made a deal with herself that if she ever won a tournament she’d buy herself a sports car. However, she never ended up doing it because she turned her home garage into a gym instead.
- Practice is very important to Natalie and on a regular week, she’ll spend four hours a day getting it done. When she’s on a tournament though, she will commit to at least eight hours a day of practice to make sure she’s playing her best.
- Natalie has played a round of golf with Tiger Woods before which she found inspiring. She also played around with now President Donald Trump after appearing on Celebrity Apprentice.
- She likes to gamble now and then and has even been known to make bets on the golf course for things like dinner, drinks, or small amounts of cash.
- Gulbis is not afraid to ask other famous people for their autographs, especially sports stars that she admires. She’s so far collected autographs from stars like Bubba Watson, Greg Norman, Jerry Rice, and Dan Marino.
- Natalie has admitted that a few fans have offered her marriage proposals over the course of her career. However, nobody has ever offered up a ring to go with them, nor has she taken any of them seriously.
- She moved to Vegas to be closer to her trainer and coach Butch Harmon but has stayed because she loves the food, casinos, and shows that are always on offer.
A Leading Force in Women’s Golf
Natalie Gulbis has been playing professional golf since she was 17 years old and began hitting balls at just four years of age, showing no signs of slowing down now. Although she’s made it clear that she’d love to put her focus on starting a family, there’s no denying that golf will always be her passion.
Gulbis has managed to create a personal golf style that sets her apart from the rest of the crowd, and has a number of wins under her belt so far she can be proud of. Even though she experienced some setbacks in her career, it’s obvious that the top female golfer will never put an end to competing in her favorite sport.
Featured Image: CC0 BY-AS 2.0 by Keith Allison via Wikimedia Commons