The real housewives of … the PGA Tour?
If a certain group of Tour pro wives can make it happen, a reality show based on their lives of golf watching, spa hopping and fundraising could be coming to a flat screen near you. Heck, you might even catch the ladies posing in swimwear, as they did during a recent photo shoot.
“We’re the bad girls, I don’t know what else to say,” Liz Estes, Bob’s wife and one of the women pursuing the show, said half-jokingly in a phone interview.
Joining Estes in her quest for reality-TV stardom are Melissa Weber Jones, wife of Matt Jones and a former Miss Idaho, and Alli MacKenzie, Will’s wife and a model who has been featured in a pictorial in the men’s magazine FHM. (Leot Chen, Vaughn Taylor’s fiancÃ©e, and Erin Walker, Jimmy’s wife, who writes a blog about traveling on Tour, also partook in the photo shoot, but they said they have no interest in appearing on a reality show.)
The women have partnered with a Los Angeles marketing firm, Reverb Collective, and in its first major play to generate some buzz, Reverb has released some edgy photos of the girls.
“We were so careful not to do anything that would be offensive to anybody,” Alli MacKenzie says of the shoot. “We got a bunch of old Sports Illustrated swimsuit issues and looked at athletes and athletes’ wives in them and made sure we didn’t do anything that was more provocative than what they did.”
Liz Estes, an aspiring pop musician, is hopeful that the PR push will work and that the show will find a home given that production companies have shown interest in her and the other wives in the past. “We were approached by the guys who did Pawn Stars,” Estes says of the History Channel show about pawnbrokers. “We talked to them three times, but they never called us back. And then this guy from VH1 asked me to put a show together with the other girls, and I’m like, ‘Well, I’m not putting it together.’ ”
If a show materializes it would be golf’s answer to Bravo’s popular Real Housewives series, “but with a cool twist,” says Amir Amiri, Reverb’s chief executive officer. Amiri believes the time is ripe for a program about Tour wives given the swell of attention the Tiger Woods scandal brought to the personal lives of pro golfers.
“We’ve talked to a lot of [television] bigwigs, and they’re all interested,” Amiri says. “I definitely think this could work out.”
MacKenzie has experienced firsthand the public’s piqued interest in the lives of golfers and their wives. When flying to Tour stops she says the first question she used to get from fellow passengers was whether she had ever met Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson. “And now it’s like, ‘Oh, did you know Tiger’s wife?’ ” MacKenzie says. “‘Did you know any of that was going on? What’s the inside scoop?’ That’s always their first question.”
This wouldn’t be the first reality show about golf; the Golf Channel produced a show that chronicled the life of John Daly and is currently airing another program that follows a homeless golfer who is trying to play on the Champions Tour. But a show about the wives would be the first of its kind to explore the social scene on Tour, which both Estes and MacKenzie say they found difficult to break into as Tour newcomers.
“During my first year I hid in my car because I was so horrified of walking into the clubhouse and player dining,” Estes says. “Everyone was so cliquey.”
“It’s like a traveling high school,” MacKenzie adds. “There are 150 or so guys and 150 or so girls, plus the caddies, plus the girls who aren’t supposed to be out there.”
Estes, who has been married to Bob for three years, says her husband is conservative and “completely opposite” from her, but that he is OK with her posing in provocative attire and chasing a reality show. MacKenzie says she also has husband Will’s full support and that Will, one of the Tour’s more colorful members, has actually been approached on multiple occasions to do a reality show of his own.
How a program about the wives would be received by the other Tour wives and the Tour itself is less clear. But it’s a safe bet the cheesecake snaps of Estes & Co. will raise eyebrows out on Tour, just as sexy photos of several LPGA pros, dubbed the 'Wilhelmina 7,' drew attention on the ladies’ circuit in 2008.
For her part, Estes isn’t worried about any backlash from her peers. “The girls who like me, like me,” she says. “And the ones who don’t, don’t. I really don’t care about negative comments.”
Who knows, one of these days you might just get to judge Estes and the rest of the wives for yourself.
Check your local listings.