In the midst of a few years that haven’t yielded the most positive results for Natalie Gulbis on the links, she has only one focus for the remainder of the 2012 season. Golf.
Although a well-known name in the sports realm, Gublis has struggled in recent year with her health and finding a swing that best suits her game and those troubles have left her outside the leaderboard many times in the last five years. She battled major back injuries for several years that resulted in laser spine surgery in 2010 and she was derailed from a promising track after capturing her career-first win at the 2007 Evian Masters.
Since that victory, Gulbis has tallied only six top-10 finishes including a tie for ninth at the 2008 RICOH Women’s British Open, tie for seventh at the MICHELOB ULTRA Open at Kingsmill and tie for 10th at the SBS Open at Turtle Bay in 2009. Still this year has provided a resurgence of sorts for Gublis, who has tallied three top-10s in 15 events this season—a tie for eighth at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, a tie for ninth at the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic and a tie for fourth at the Evian Masters Presented by Societe Generale.
“I’ve really struggled with my golf game,” Gulbis said of her last five seasons. “There is a lot I have to work on. The positive is that I’m healthy and I have the opportunity to continue to work on my golf game.”
Although it’s been an uphill battle for the 10-year veteran on Tour, Gulbis counts these feats as little blessings. She was reminded of the rush of being in contention as she climbed the leaderboard last month in France to capture her first top-5 finish since the 2007 ADT Championship.
“It’s bittersweet because I played well at Evian but you know every week is a new week,” Gulbis says of being in the leaderboard. “I played horrible last week. The game has a way of humbling you fast. I have a lot to work on in my golf game. There’s not a lot of time to really rest on anything that happened good, maybe at the end of the season but I just really need to focus on getting my golf game back.”
But no matter what her performance is on the links, Gulbis always remains a fan favorite on the LPGA Tour. With more than 120,000 followers on Twitter and a sizable gallery every week, Gulbis appreciates the support from her fans.
“I love having fans and the fans have always been really good to me,” Gulbis said. “Even when I struggled it’s nice to know that people are out there cheering for you. I’m just very, very fortunate. I got very lucky with that.”
Off the course, Gulbis takes to the spotlight in the media world. In 2005, she made her television debut with her own reality TV show featured on the Golf Channel, followed by an appearance on Celebrity Apprentice in 2009. She has also been seen in several magazines over the years with her most recent gig in the 2012 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.
“Being on the LPGA has absolutely enabled me to do things outside of the game,” Gulibs said. “I had a lot of fun having a show on the Golf Channel. Thanks to Taylor Made and Adidas, they got me into the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition. It was nice to get the response from fans.”
The game of golf has not only afforded Gulbis the opportunity to be in the public eye, but also the ability to morph her celebrity status on and off the course into a platform for supporting many charities, including her own foundation and Boys and Girls Club.
“It’s just a joy,” Gulbis says of her charities. “It’s one of my favorite parts about being a professional. The ability to be associated with these different charities and foundations, whether it’s mine or other players, and find a way to give back and use the game of golf to give back.”