Mike Whan’s Contract Renewed With LPGA
Mike Whan, who has guided the LPGA for the past ten years, has signed a “long-term contract extension” with the organization.
The LPGA was frankly struggling when Whan took over, having lost seven tournaments under Commissioner Carolyn Bivens. Players were in revolt.
Under Whan the LPGA has seen a 50% increase in tournaments, an 80% increase in purse levels and a 100S% increase in television coverage. The Symetra Tour also has grown. Nineteen of the 33 official events on the 2020 schedule were not on the LPGA tour ten years ago.
What impresses me most about Whan, however, is that his vision doesn’t stop with the LPGA TOUR. He sees the LPGA as the leader for all women in golf — be they juniors or pros.
Here’s an excerpt from Whan’s letter to the LPGA
Imagine a future where half the people who play golf are women. How can we be satisfied with anything less? I know we won’t change the demographics overnight, but if we continue to focus on the “future of the game” (those under 18), we will change how golf looks in 2035! We’ve already gone from 20% of youth golfers being female to 36% in 10 years. I think 50-50 participation is not only achievable, but inevitable in junior golf. If we stay focused on LPGA-USGA Girls Golf and continue to partner with others who can fuel this momentum, we will change the face of our game forever.
Most golfers never forget the special people who started them on their golf journey and helped them along the way. By increasing the number of female teachers, coaches and other professionals in the game, we’ll make sure more of those special people are women. Female professionals need to be impacting the next generation of players at all levels and in all corners of the globe. Our teaching division, much like our Tour, needs to lead that global expansion.
As we continue to connect with women of all ages and playing abilities, the LPGA has the opportunity – and the responsibility – to be the voice for women in golf. Women represent the largest untapped potential for our game to double in size. We need to take our leadership role seriously and protect and pursue growth opportunities that may not happen without our involvement. It’s not OK to simply play golf or be an LPGA member. Both individually and as a group, we must be relentless in finding ways to make this game better and more inviting to half the world’s population.
EQUALITY MUST BE MORE THAN A VALUE STATEMENT
If a company’s stated values are to provide equal opportunities for women to advance and succeed, why wouldn’t their marketing/sponsorship dollars reflect that? How is it that nearly every company claims equal opportunity is a cornerstone of their business, but 95% of all corporate sports sponsorship dollars are spent on male sports? There is no doubt we’re at a tipping point and more executives, shareholders and investors are questioning whether their corporate values are reflected in every aspect of their company, including marketing and sponsorship decisions. Increased corporate support translates into more opportunities for women in golf and more opportunities for female athletes to be seen as role models of confidence, ability and accomplishment.
As you know, we have some incredible partners that “walk the talk” on women’s issues and have lifted the LPGA to new heights. Let’s always give them the recognition and respect they deserve, as they are the real reason the LPGA is in such a strong position heading into 2020!
Whan is arguing something that I have long argued on this blog. Women are half (actually slightly over half) the population, but only 20% of the golfers. If the golf industry can get women’s participation to just 40%, that would erase all of the losses the game has suffered over the last couple of decades. Golf would grow at rates hitherto undreamed of.
I hope — for golf’s sake — that Whan is able to achieve his vision.