LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan is 10 years into the job and 'I'm not done'
LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan, with a letter addressed to the golf community that read like a battle cry, announced that though he's been in the job for a decade and achieved a lot, there's much left for him to accomplish. "I'm not done," Whan wrote in the wake of an announcement that he had received a long-term contract extention.
The status of the tour in 2010 when Whan took over as commissioner was far from what it is now.
"Since 2010, we’ve experienced more than 50 percent increase in tournaments, more than 80 percent increase in purse levels, over 100 percent increase in TV coverage and a season-long race to the biggest individual payday in women’s golf," Whan wrote on the LPGA's website. "The Symetra Tour has grown its schedule and purses even more over a shorter period of time."
The commissioner's job obviously revolves around the LPGA but extends to other tours and parts of the game, the Symetra Tour, LPGA teaching professionals, LPGA-USGA Girls Golf, among others. Of those organizations, some of the largest growth under Whan's leadership has been in girl's golf.
"We’ve already gone from 20 percent of youth golfers being female to 36 percent in 10 years," Whan wrote. "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."
Whan already is the longest-running LPGA commissioner, and his tone is not one of someone who's planning on leaving the position any time soon. With the success that he's had, it's not surprising that the response to his decision has been met favorably.
In an emotional moment when Carlota Ciganda received the $1 million bonus for winning the season-long AON Risk Reward challenge, she tearfully thanked AON for its investment in women's golf and thanked Whan as well, knowing how important his role has been in getting more money for the players.
"I've been on tour now for eight years so I cannot thank enough Mike Whan," Ciganda said.
Whan's announcement comes during the LPGA's season-ending event, the CME Group Tour Championship. It's an event that makes it easy to feel good about the state of the women's game. Ciganda's $1 million award isn't the only huge paycheck that's going to be given out this week: The winner of the tournament will receive $1.5 million, the largest winner's check ever in women's golf.
Though proud of the accomplishments made, Whan still sees the need for more growth in the women's game. It's what has him coming back for more.
"One of the things I’ve learned from the past 10 years is I like being the underdog. I like it when others bet against us," Whan wrote. "I like the fact that some people think we’re satisfied with our progress . . . when the truth is, we’re just getting started!"