The cover of this month’s issue of Golf Digest features LPGA tour golfer Lexi Thompson wearing a—golf towel? Cut up shirt? Weird scarf?—and not much else. It’s the “Fitness & Power Issue,” which I guess has something to do with side boob.

This is silly! If there are Golf Digest subscribers out there who are really that hard up for a glance at the outer portion of a woman’s breast, they can go on the internet, or just read Sports Illustrated. This cover didn’t just come out of nowhere, though. It tracks perfectly with how Golf Digest has been treating its female cover models for the last few years.

Last year, the magazine put together a helpful archive of women that have been on the cover since 1969. Up until 2008, there was nothing too scandalous about the way any of the women were dressed or presented. Here’s Lorena Ochoa on the cover in 2008:

After that, the magazine went five years without putting another woman on the cover. In 2013, it put Holly Sonders, who is not a professional golfer but worked for the Golf Channel at the time, on this cover:


My favorite thing about this cover is Golf Digest’s explanation for how it came to be:

Holly Sonders might have been an unlikely selection for our cover when you consider she hasn’t played a single round on the LPGA Tour. But she was an accomplished college golfer at Michigan State, and she’s earned a sizable following as a host on Golf Channel. Moreover, Sonders, who adheres to a strict workout regimen, was an appropriate cover model for our “Get Fit!” package.

For sure, man.

After Sonders’s appearance, the magazine put three more women on the cover before Lexi Thompson.


There was Kate Upton:

Paulina Gretzky:


And Michelle Wie:

What’s to be gleaned from this? Probably just that every sports magazine, harrowed by the constant downward trend of print subscriptions, can always go looking for a Hail Mary in the shape of someone’s breasts.