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Natalie Gulbis has gone from bikinis to power suits on "Celebrity Apprentice."
Natalie Gulbis has gone from bikinis to power suits on "Celebrity Apprentice." (Courtesy of nataliegulbis.com)

On 'Celebrity Apprentice' reality show, Natalie Gulbis shows the importance of being seen

William K. WolfrumBy William K. Wolfrum,

A longstanding problem for the PGA and LPGA Tours has been how to give their golfers more media exposure. Because while Tiger Woods enjoys the type of fame that comes with being a once-in-a-generation player, most male and female golfers struggle to break through on the big stage.

Even when the PGA Tour or LPGA get behind their players, it seems poorly done. Remember the "Those guys are good" commercials the PGA Tour ran? It was a clever campaign - except for the fact that the commercials always seemed to run during golf tournaments. So it may have been good marketing, but it was good marketing aimed at consumers who had likely already bought the product.

But in 2009, a familiar name may have stumbled upon a way to give golfers the higher profiles they deserve. Yes, once again, Natalie Gulbis shall lead them.

For those of you unawares, Gulbis has spent the start of the 2009 LPGA Tour in Manhattan, as part of the cast of Donald Trump's deliciously good reality show "Celebrity Apprentice." For Gulbis, this has been a fantastic career decision, as an entirely new fan base gets to know her and her sport.

Of course, it would probably help if Gulbis didn't actively try to lose every week, but we'll get to that later. Because the fact is Gulbis has put her face and form out there for all to see, and more nakedly than she did during her years as a bikini model.

"Celebrity Apprentice" breaks down its contestants. Hell, two weeks ago the show devolved into an intervention, as former NBA star Dennis Rodman finished his run of drinking through every event.

Now, before I get ahead of myself, let me explain "Celebrity Apprentice" to the non-viewer: Basically, Donald Trump swaggers around like a master of the universe (never once explaining how he managed to make a casino go bankrupt) and gives his cast of celebrities interesting challenges. The celebrities - which include the likes of Jesse James, Joan Rivers, Clint Black and Joan Rivers' daughter - are broken up into teams and try to win the challenge, thus winning money for their charity.

Examples of challenges include running a hotel or selling cupcakes to the highest bidders. It's just utterly fantastic stuff that really shows off the social ineptness of celebrities. Except for James, who may just well be the coolest human on the planet.

But back to Gulbis. One would figure that her experience doing a reality show (I believe it was called "Hey, I'm Natalie Gulbis! Look at Meeeeee!") would give her a leg up in the competition. But over the course of six episodes, Gulbis has been a train wreck for the most part.

In nearly every episode, Gulbis does something that helps the opposing team. She's burned cupcakes. She mocked an outfit she had to wear in front of executives. She rolled her eyes to a couple hotel guests who were annoying her. And when teams were forced to make "viral" videos for a clothes detergent, she laughed heartily and applauded the opposing team's effort.

Still, Gulbis, who is playing for the Boys & Girls Club, has survived. And she's survived to the point that she actually impressed Trump by telling him she'd gladly skip golf tournaments to stay on the show. Yes, Natalie Gulbis knows where her bread is buttered, and there's more butter to harvest with Trump than the LPGA.

Regardless, Gulbis' decision to be on "Celebrity Apprentice" was an inspired one. She's making new fans and/or enemies. She's playing a different game in front of different viewers, and no matter how she ends up doing, she's bringing in new fans for herself and for the LPGA.

So I'm here to say that I applaud Natalie Gulbis and her ability to stay in the public eye while off the golf course. In fact, this reality-show schtick could be a way to give golfers an entirely new level of fame. Personally, I say the PGA Tour needs to see if it can get Sergio Garcia or Phil Mickelson on "Survivor." Or "The Amazing Race." Or "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy." Or whatever. They just need to get out there and show the American public some reality. Because Gulbis has once again shown the way and proven the importance of being seen.

William K. Wolfrum keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation. You can follow him on Twitter @Wolfrum.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • WIlliam Wolfrum

    Frank Collins wrote on: Apr 27, 2009

    Nice Toupe!