SBD/Issue 200/Leagues & Governing Bodies

LPGA Players Reportedly Seek Bivens' Resignation As Commissioner

Bivens Reportedly Has Been Sent A
Letter Asking For Her Resignation
The letter sent to the LPGA BOD last week by a group of top women golfers calls for Commissioner Carolyn Bivens' resignation and an "establishment of new leadership," according to a player who received a copy of the letter cited by Beth Ann Baldry of GOLFWEEK. The players in the letter stated that "all of the tour's problems can't be blamed on a poor economy and expressed a desire to rebuild relationships with longtime sponsors." The players "in favor of Bivens' resignation attached their names to the note," though it was "uncertain late Monday how many players support the resignation." LPGA Chief Communications Officer David Higdon confirmed that the BOD, of which Bivens is a member, "has seen the letter." Baldry reports the move is the "latest blow to a tour that has lost seven tournaments since 2007, including three staged in Hawaii," while six more events are sponsorless. Contracts have "expired for the Jamie Farr and Wegmans LPGA, two long-standing events," and Wegmans Tournament Dir Linda Hampton said that the two parties are "nowhere near making a decision about" the event's future. The future of the Jamie Farr event "also remains uncertain." Golfer Katherine Hull said, "We're getting to the point where we don't know who to believe, which is hard. When tournaments that have been very loyal to us start withdrawing, that's really a red flag to me." Baldry noted Bivens has "two years remaining on her contract" (GOLFWEEK.com, 7/6). GOLF WORLD's Ron Sirak wrote, "At issue are added costs imposed on tournaments by Bivens' Vision 2010 business plan that have caused several sponsors to pull support from the tour" (GOLFDIGEST.com, 7/6).

LPGA STATEMENT: Higdon in a statement to THE DAILY said, “This is an important week for the players and the LPGA, and we’re focused first and foremost on the U.S. Open. The LPGA players, staff and Board all care deeply about our Tour, and we’re all working hard to achieve the same long-term objective to grow our Tour. It’s not in the best interest of women’s golf to openly discuss internal matters, but you can rest assured that the LPGA and its Board of Directors considers any topic raised by the players seriously since we are a player organization. There are always differences of opinion on business matters, and as they arise, we resolve them as best we can in order to further the business of the LPGA" (THE DAILY).

LONG TIME COMING: In California, Larry Bohannan writes if there are "any surprises in the sudden call" for Bivens' resignation it is that the call "came from top players, rather than from a united front of individual tournament sponsors and officials." Another surprise is that it "has taken so long for someone to call for Bivens' resignation," as from the start of her tenure Bivens "seemed to be fighting a losing battle." Bivens "seems to have lost the support of the players," and if the players "did send a letter to the LPGA board asking for Bivens' resignation, there is nothing for her to do but resign." The commissioner "serves the players, not the other way around." Bohannan notes a "growing school of thought is that some sponsors aren't just cutting back on expenses during a recession," rather they are "leaving the LPGA due to Bivens' policies, but using the economy as a legitimate smokescreen" (Palm Springs DESERT SUN, 7/7). FANHOUSE.com's Will Brinson wrote, "Right now, it appears -- bad economy be damned -- that Bivens is not good at her job. ... If the players are calling for Bivens to retire, she's clearly doing something wrong." The situation is "beyond distressing" for the LPGA (FANHOUSE.com, 7/6).

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