Bivens Out As LPGA Commissioner

Several sources, including Golf Digest and the New York Times are reporting that Carolyn Bivens is out as LPGA Commissioner. Official word will apparently come early next week.

From the NYT:

Amid mounting criticism over her leadership of the L.P.G.A. Tour, Commissioner Carolyn Bivens has decided to step down after the United States Women’s Open, according to a person with knowledge of the situation and multiple published reports.

Under Carolyn Bivens, the tour has lost seven events since 2007.

Bivens, 56, originally planned to fight efforts to force her out through the L.P.G.A. board of directors, according to the individual, but she changed her mind when presented with a letter requesting her resignation signed by 15 tour stars, including Lorena Ochoa, Cristie Kerr, Paula Creamer and Se Ri Pak.

The person spoke anonymously because he was not authorized to publicly address the sensitive personnel matter. He said the board was conducting “informal discussions” with individuals in the industry to gauge their interest in replacing Bivens.

From Golf Digest:

Carolyn Bivens’ tumultuous four-year run as LPGA commissioner will end early next week, multiple sources tell, the tipping point coming when the Board of Directors received a letter from some of the tour’s top players calling for her resignation. Official word is expected after this week’s U.S. Women’s Open at Saucon Valley Country Club.

“The letter was a death sentence,” one source within the LPGA told “No confidence by the players is a dagger in her heart,” said a second source, this one involved in tournament ownership.

Not all were opposed to Bivens, however. Several articles, including the Golf Digest piece, mention Bivens supporters who say that the Tour’s problems are not her fault.

Maybe not, but the president of anything has to take the blame when things don’t go right. The current recession wasn’t George Bush’s fault, but he has been saddled with the blame.

The real question is who will take the job as Bivens’ successor. Mentioned in several stories are Donna Orender, the W.N.B.A. commissioner; Hall of Fame golfers Nancy Lopez and Judy Rankin; and Cindy Davis, the president of Nike Golf. In a little bit of hometown hopefulness, the St. Augustine Record says that Orender is the top contender The article is worth reading, if only for her background. On paper, Orenders seems like a perfect fit—especially since she has a golf background that Bivens seemed to lack.

But on the other hand, I don’t know who would really WANT the LPGA job. It seems a thankless one, underpaid by sports standards, and possibly doomed to failure. As with General Motors, the LPGA’s future may depend on it becoming smaller. In order to get the number of events back to reasonable levels (there currently are only TEN signed for next year), the Tour may have to return to its barnstorming roots and accept some sub-million dollar purses.

On the positive side, this move probably means the survival of the Jamie Farr in Toledo. It may also hopefully mean the revival of the Corning Classic in New York. They were’nt big enough for Bivens; may be her successor will see it in a different light.

3 thoughts on “Bivens Out As LPGA Commissioner”

  1. Carolyn Bivens downfall seems to be that she believed in the players and their worth, wanting health care, childcare, bigger purses, better television coverage, and the players are back-stabbing and short-sighted. Rome wasn’t built in a day and Bivens was working on a number of new sponsors and tournaments for next year. What do 15 players know about running the LPGA? They need to concentrate on their golf game and win a few tournaments instead of looking to blame someone who is dedicated to improving their situation. Carolyn Bivens has a strong management and media background and these women have done a true disservice to the LPGA by ousting her. Good luck Carolyn!

  2. If that’s the case, then Bivens’ main fault may be a lack of communication with her primary audience—the players who, ultimately, are her employer. Rather than telling them a month ago that they were down to ten tournaments, she should have said we have fifteen prospects lined up, or somesuch.

    But even with that, she still can be criticized for her mishandling of the press—and the inexcusable error with the English only issue.

  3. These are the same players who were rallying around Bivens and singing her praises earlier this year when the Golf Channel and a Korean cable tv signed huge contracts with the LPGA (the largest in LPGA history). Oh how quickly we forget.


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