SBD/May 31, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Commissioner Sees Improvement In LPGA As Tournament Contracts Come Up For Renewal

Whan said the LPGA is "on the upswing" with increased viewership, new events
LPGA Commissioner Michael Whan hopes the tour’s schedule “will continue to improve in 2013," although with a large number of tournaments in the final year of their contracts, the tour "must remain diligent in retaining them,” according to Joe Juliano of the PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER. Whan said, “I’m not sure I’d ever get to say things are going well. But we’re definitely on the upswing. We’re coming off a strong year. Viewership is way up, 40 percent over last year. We’ve added $7 million in purses and five new events, four of which were in North America.” Juliano noted the LPGA has “developed a good record of organizing new tournaments and retaining older ones.” Eight of the nine tournaments whose contracts ran out in ’11 “were renewed.” Whan said, “But 27 tournaments is not the right place for the LPGA to be, and I get that. We’re not where we need to be yet.” Juliano noted the players are “feeling the energy of the LPGA’s recovery and credit Whan ... for his passion and insight.” Because of his experience representing potential sponsors, Whan “knows what executives like.” Before every tournament, “each contestant receives a two-page fact sheet that includes a profile of the event’s sponsor and other pertinent information.” Whan said, “At the start, it doesn’t say, ‘Who’s the title sponsor?’ It says, ‘Who’s writing the check this week?’ We have pictures of the guys you need to thank during the week. Here are the guys. Here are their backgrounds. If players want to tweet, here are suggested tweets” (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 5/29).

LOOKING TO MAKE A CONNECTION: The LPGA is putting players’ Twitter handles on caddies' bibs during the Wegmans LPGA Championship next week, and Golf Channel’s Gary Williams said it was an effort “to make the players more accessible, more personable, humanizing them.” Former LPGAer Annika Sorenstam said, “I welcome the idea. I think it's just fine to do that. It's a great way to communicate, a great way to follow your fans. The ladies are really doing a good job on the Twitter account. Why not? Maybe get the fans to follow them more” ("Morning Drive," Golf Channel, 5/31).
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