The Untold Truth Of Holly Sonders

Holly Sonders. If you're a fan of professional golf, there's a strong chance you know that name. After all, it belongs to one of the sport's most recognizable television personalities. And the path Sonders took in life is like something out of a movie. According to her Fox Sports bio, Sonders won her first golf tournament at the age of seven. She eventually received a scholarship from Michigan State University and went on to win more tournaments on their golf team, bringing home a Big Ten Conference championship in 2007. 

Sonders graduated with a degree in journalism in 2009, and, two years later, she married her two passions by becoming a co-host on the Golf Channel's morning talk show Morning Drive. So, is her golf game still there? "I play from the reds now, but if I would tee it up from like 6,400 to 6,500 yards, I'd be about a 3- or 4-handicap," Sonders told Golf Digest in 2013. Free Nicki Swift tip: We wouldn't recommend playing her with your rent money

But what else do we know about the artist formerly known as Holly Niederkohr? Hop in the cart, and let's tee up the untold truth of Holly Sonders.

Holly Sonders is dating a certain football star

In January 2019, Holly Sonders confirmed to her fans that she was dating Arizona Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury. "Couldn't be any prouder of this one," she wrote on Instagram in response to news of Kingsbury's Cardinals gig, adding two heart emojis. "Truly the best human being I know. Congratulations K. Let's. Go." She followed it up on Twitter, writing, "The desert just got a whole lot hotter. Congratulations @KliffKingsbury, so proud of you." She continued, "He's the best. And we are a little past the crush part."

News that Sonders and Kingsbury were in a relationship came after a whirlwind couple of months for the football celeb. In November 2018, Texas Tech let Kliff Kingsbury go from his position as their head football coach, who'd maintained a 35-40 record over six seasons. However, early that December, he landed the coveted offensive coordinator position for the college football powerhouse USC Trojans, as reported by ESPN. But Kingsbury didn't stick with that gig for long, as, a little over a month later, he became the head coach of the NFL's Arizona Cardinals. He landed himself a huge job and secured a new romance? Did Kingsbury find a genie's lamp sometime during the holiday season?

Say 'sectional qualifying' three times fast

A lot of interesting things can happen on live television. A person can destroy their careermake things painfully uncomfortable, or, in Holly Sonders' case, make things hilariously awkward with a Freudian slip. During the FS1 2018 U.S. Open preview show, Sonders said "sexual qualifying" instead of "sectional qualifying," but she managed to keep her composure. To their credit, her two co-hosts, Shane Bacon and Brad Faxon, pretended they didn't hear it, or they were frozen in second-hand embarrassment.

Responding to a tweet containing a clip of the awkward slip-up, Sonders replied, "Live tv! It's been a long week!" When a Twitter user correctly pointed out that it happened on Monday, Sonder clarified, "We were in Alabama for a week before this at the us women's and then flew straight to Charlotte to do this SECTIONAL qualifying show!"

Sonders then continued to poke fun at herself on Twitter. "SECTIONAL qualifying is complete! 'Sexual' qualifying isn't a thing...and I didn't have the time to make a joke about my mistake as we needed to get off the air 60 sec later. If Brad and Shane had even cracked a smile we wouldn't have made it through the segment," she wrote. "And if it were [an] actual thing," she added, "it would air at a very different time on a very different network!"

Holly Sonders got divorced in 2016

Holly Sonders was previously married to sports television and radio host Erik Kuselias, but the couple split sometime in 2016. Per Deadspin, the pair reportedly started an affair when they co-hosted Morning Drive while Kuselias was still married to his first wife.

Although Sonders hasn't spoken publicly about her decision to divorce Kuselias, her comments on Twitter lead us to believe the reasons behind the dissolution of their marriage were less than ideal. In response to a fan who called Kuselias his "hero" on one of her posts, Sonders curtly replied, "I filed for divorce over a year ago...we have not been together in a very long time. Thanks."

The reason for their split is unclear, but Deadline reported that, during Kuselias' time at ESPN, multiple sources labeled him "the biggest d*****bag in the place," and he reportedly cheated on his first wife with his colleague Stephania Bell. He was also allegedly drunk during a Monday Night Football party and told a female ESPN employee, "I would like to f**k you." Take from that what you will. 

She's friends with Donald Trump

On July 4, 2014, Holly Sonders, dressed in an American flag bathing suit, participated in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. And who did she nominate? Her "good friend Donald Trump." About two weeks before The Apprentice alum announced his candidacy for President of the United States at Trump Tower in Manhattan on June 16, 2015, Sonders posted a photo of herself with the future commander-in-chief, and the two were all smiles. 

"Looking through pictures from 2014...And I can say I genuinely enjoy my time with @realdonaldtrump," the Instagram caption read. "Great office visit in NYC. I think he's a very smart man (everyone has haters)."

"Everyone has haters?" We guess that's one way to say it. At the time of this writing, Sonders has 343,000 Instagram followers, but this post only has a little over 1,000 likes. That's quite the ratio. Not to mention, the comments section is, well, a dumpster fire.

Holly Sonders is a 'most beautiful women in golf' pro

"Introducing @Holly_Sonders, one of the Most Beautiful Women in Golf for 2017! #MBW2K17," Golf.com announced on Twitter. We're not sure if "introducing" is the right word here, though, because 2017 marked Holly Sonders' fourth consecutive appearance on the list. In response to the title, Sonders tweeted, "Thank you again for including me in this years edition! Humbled."

In 2015, the photo shoot for golf's Most Beautiful Women took place at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J. "Love these boots! Big thx to @golf_com @SInow @realDonaldTrump and the folks at Trump Bedminster. Beautiful venue," she tweeted out with a picture from the shoot. Ah, Sonders and Trump's friendship makes sense now. They both like golf.

Her debut at Fox Sports was a 'disaster'

After about three years at the Golf Channel, Holly Sonders jumped ship to join Fox Sports in 2014. A year before, Fox Sports had struck a 12-year-deal for the rights to broadcast the U.S. Open starting in 2015, so adding a golf pro like Sonders to their coverage team seemed like a win. But the whole situation turned out to be "a disaster," according to The Washington Post. Fox Sports' debut into golf was savaged by critics due to "amateur" technical problems and uninformed announcers (via The New York Times).

The Washington Post called Sonders' interviewing skills into question after "an awkward post-interview hug with Phil Mickelson" and a two-question interview with Jordan Spieth, in which she "asked him whether he had packed an outfit in case there was a Monday playoff." Spieth replied that his sponsor, Under Armour, had him covered. Sonders fired back against the criticism on Twitter, writing, "And for those of u hating on my interview w/ Jordan..It's appropriate to end with a smile. He's the US Open champ! Lighten up folks."

Her performance was allegedly so awful that the network reassigned Sonders to cover the NFL two months later, as USA Today's For the Win reported. Yikes.

Holly Sonders had a cameo on New Girl

While still serving as a Fox Sports golf analyst, Holly Sonders landed a cameo on an episode of New Girl, a comedy featuring actress Zooey Deschanel that aired on the Fox network, in 2015. "Had so much fun filming on the set of @NewGirlonFox," Sonders tweeted in February 2015. The episode aired that April, "just in time for Masters week," as Sonders later posted on social media. Fox Sports' official Twitter account joined in on the hype, as well, tweeting, "Don't miss our very own @holly_sonders on tonight's episode of @NewGirlonFOX at 9/8c!"

So, just what was Sonders' episode of New Girl about? Yep, you guessed it — golf! Well, kind of. The episode, called "Par 5," involved Deschanel's character, Jessica Day, participating in a charity golf tournament. Sonders played herself and reported on Day's abhorrent golfing skills (via Netflix). "I've never seen so many strokes taken on a single hole in all my life," she said. "This has got to be some kind of record."

Her move to the NFL sidelines sparked outrage

After her reassignment to the NFL, Holly Sonders said in a statement per Golf Week, "I look forward to continuing my relationship with Fox Sports as I transition into a studio role and am excited about the opportunities ahead of me."

But these opportunities might not have been ideal for everybody. To make way for Sonders, Fox Sports reportedly bumped veteran NFL sideline reporters Laura Okmin and Jennifer Hale, according to Sports Illustrated. During an episode of HBO's Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel dealing with the sexism and ageism that female sports reporters face, Okmin addressed the situation but didn't mention Sonders by name. To correspondent Jon Frankel (via Sporting News), she shared that she was taken off games so that a younger reporter with less experience "could have an opportunity." 

Noting that she felt "horrible," Okmin said, "I worked very hard for this job. I knew this was coming. I knew the shelf life of being a woman on television and in this business. And all of a sudden, I think I was thrown by it."

Fox Sports dropped Holly Sonders (again)

Three years after Fox Sports dropped her as a golf analyst, the network removed Holly Sonders from its golf telecasts all together. Golfweek first reported the news in October 2018, including a statement by the channel that read, "Holly is a valued member of the Fox Sports family, and we're thrilled to continue working with her."

"I'm incredibly proud to have been a part of Fox Sports' USGA coverage," Sonders said of the decision. "The entire golf team has become like family, and I learned a lot working alongside them. I look forward to continuing my relationship with Fox Sports as I transition into a studio role and am excited about the opportunities ahead of me." 

In an interview with the publication the following March, Sonders claimed the golf coverage "at Fox just didn't turn out to be what we thought it would be," because they were unable to secure enough PGA Tour rights. As of this writing, it remains unclear what Sonders' specific role at Fox Sports is. According to her network bio, the reporter's only 2019 highlight is that she "regularly appears as a guest host on FS1's daily studio shows, including Undisputed and The Herd."