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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014

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In Sports

Model and disc golfer Holly Finley hits the fairway on her off days.

In Sports

Finley has modeled for designers like Oscar de la Renta, Calvin Klein, Jil Sander, Donna Karen and Louis Vuitton.

In Sports

"I see myself as so many different characters I sometimes don't even recognize myself," said Finley.

In Sports

Finley hopes to extend her success and become a disc golf world champion.

Model of efficiency: From the runway to the fairway


(page 2)


"I went to the mall one Sunday after going to church with my grandmother," Finley began. "My hair was all curled and I was dressed up and a woman stopped me and said 'Have you ever thought about being a model?' She told me her daughter was a model and was in a magazine. I just happened to look at that magazine right before I came to the mall and tore out an insert because it had a cute girl with a sunhat, thinking maybe I could find a sunhat like it.

"That girl was her daughter ... this means something."

It meant Finley had a whirlwind future, latching on with a manager then branching out to create her unique look and brand, even if the finished product produces a look that is sometimes somewhat unrecognizable.

"I see myself as so many different characters I sometimes don't even recognize myself," said Finley. "I'll see the finished product and say 'Wow, that girl looks great ... oh my gosh, that's me!'

"It's just amazing with all the technology they have these days, sometimes it's just beyond belief what they can do with an image."

Posing for the camera has been Finley's full-time employment for the past nine years and counting. She treats her vocation like her vacation away from it all on the disc golf course, acute to the idea she has only begun to scratch the surface in both.

"It's very challenging because it's a very tight-knit, strange industry," said Finley, who's image has also been splashed in the pages of Glamour magazine. "Just to be able to break inside of it is a massive feat of its own. And then to actually be successful, more than just making pocket change, those two things alone are just amazing and very rewarding in so many ways."

Two gratifying ventures that perhaps never would have occurred if Finley didn't follow her heart and instincts. It's only fitting that she intertwined the two somehow to keep the mojo flow intact, so having a fashion sense even when she tackles a disc golf course is an essential trademark part of her game.

"I have a thing going where I like to wear red Chanel lipstick every time I play in a tournament ... I really feel like it has contributed to my success," laughed Finley. "I do try to make my own fashion trend and add a little style."

Even Finley can't contain chuckling at herself. But she won't stray from ensuring her success, even if it means retaining her superstitions.

"I have to admit, there were times I was losing in the first round and I just decided, 'What can I do to lift my spirits?' and as a girl, when you feel pretty it makes you play better," said Finley.

If she nabs the attention because of her brightly colored socks, lipstick or hair, so be it. Finley's mission isn't just to be the best in the sport, but to help change the image perceived by curious and judgmental onlookers.

"One thing about this sport that leads to the lack of respect is that most of our golfers don't look professional," said Finley. "I've heard people say we look scruffy and dirty, and some players come out with whatever shirt on the floor they can find and jeans they've been painting and mowing the grass in. But that's the thing about disc golfers; we come from all walks of life."

Holly Finley's adoptive home in Wisconsin is the perfect setting for fulfilling all of her dreams in both walks of her life. While the two activities have little in common, one doesn't function without the other. And the open windows of opportunity to be a peak performer on both stages do have a ticking clock limit Finley is keenly aware of.

"As far as the universe goes giving me this opportunity, there is a small window that is very much wide open for me right now," said Finley. "I'm getting a lot of sponsor offers and professionals willing to spend time with me and share their knowledge of the game. A lot of people don't get this opportunity and I recognize that and I'm feeling very lucky for all the things that have happened to me. I'm trying to take advantage of it all while it's here.

"I know you have to act on things while they are around because it is a window and eventually it will close. Right now I've been handed the torch to play disc golf and it's burning strong inside of me. I know at some point I'm going to hand it off to someone else, but right now it's mine, I've got it, and I'm going to run with it!"

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