SBD/June 28, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

LPGA Commissioner Pleased With Growth In Asia; Wants To Keep Sunday Finish

Whan predicts a wave of players coming from Thailand in the near future
With the U.S. Women's Open taking place this weekend, Golf Channel held an LPGA state of the game roundtable discussion tackling several issues facing the league. Golf HOFer Annika Sorenstam said the influx of successful Korean golfers on the LPGA Tour and the "growth of the game in Asia" is "very impressive." LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan said, "A lot of our sponsors are based in the U.S. but have a global business as well, and so our business does the same thing." He added talent "comes in waves" from different areas around the world and "I think we'll see another wave soon," particularly from Thailand. Golfweek's Beth Ann Baldry said of the LPGA finishing events on days other than Sunday, "I just feel like it's so traditional, it's so ingrained in us ... so if they can stay on Sunday, stay on Sunday." Whan added, "We like the idea and one of the reasons we like the idea is Golf Channel and NBC have said that they'd like to get behind that and anytime we can get more interest and more exposure for our players [is good]." He continued, "The reality of it is we play tournaments, generally speaking, to make sure that we're delivering for our customer partner and if it doesn't work for the customer partner it really doesn't matter what works for Mike Whan or for Golf Channel or NBC and that's the challenge. A lot of them want to finish on the weekend in their hometown and I'm not going to change that." Of the Tour's efforts to grow the game globally, Whan said the "key is to make sure we don't just play in New York or don't just play in Toledo or don't just play in Singapore, for that matter." Whan: "We want to play in 160-plus countries every time we play so it's really about broad TV coverage. You'd be amazed at our website hits and where they come from" ("State of the Game," Golf Channel, 6/26).

CHANGE IN COURSE: In Rochester, Sal Maiorana reported the Wegmans LPGA Championship is "cutting ties after 37 years with Locust Hill Country Club, and Monroe Golf Club will host" the '14 tournament. Tournament Dir Linda Hampton said, "Our mission was to keep the major with the Wegmans name on it in 2014, and it worked out that we have a new site and a new date." LPGA officials determined that the "Donald Ross-designed layout -- despite having no water hazards -- was suitable for the tour’s premier championship." Monroe Golf Club President Steve McCluski said, "They toured the course in May and June, and they’re not going to require us to make any changes." Maiorana notes as far as "infrastructure, many decisions need to be made, and arrangements must be finalized with the Town of Pittsford, but it seems likely that all spectators will be shuttled to the course from satellite parking lots and dropped off in the main club parking lot adjacent to the 10th fairway where it is expected the LPGA merchandise tent will reside" (ROCHESTER DEMOCRAT & CHRONICLE, 6/28).
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