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Volume 25 No. 152
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LPGA Commish Wants To Improve Players' Endorsement Opportunities

Korean players like In Gee Chun have found success with sponsor placement on their shirts and hats
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan claims that “improving endorsement opportunities of all players joining the tour is high on his priority list,” according to Randall Mell of GOLFCHANNEL.com. The LPGA states that the tour’s TV household reach is up 253% since '11, while tournaments are “telecast in more than 170 countries.” Whan believes more eyeballs on women’s golf is "key to more endorsement opportunities,” though he is “frustrated opportunities haven’t surged more with the tour’s growing TV reach.” Whan said, “When an LPGA player gets her tour card and then goes out into the marketplace to figure out who’s going to be on her hat, who’s going to be on her shirt and on her bag, generally they are underwhelmed with the level of interest. I feel like we can’t talk about having truly turned the LPGA around, and about being in a great position, until we fix that part.” He added, “If a player becomes an LPGA member, becomes one of the best 200 golfers on the planet, there ought to instantly be business opportunities for her, that weren’t available before, and that’s not necessarily the case today.” Mell noted after two straight tournaments in South Korea, many LPGA players noticed “how the galleries, TV exposure and all the adulation affect the sponsorship support top Korean players receive.” Golfer Azahara Munoz: “They look like NASCAR drivers, with logos everywhere” (GOLFCHANNEL.com, 10/12).

A MODEL TO EMULATE: Golf Channel's Ron Sirak notes the support that South Korean golfers get from both fans and corporations at home is "something that needs to be emulated worldwide." Sirak: "Corporations have realized the enormous popularity the players have. They’ve jumped in there in terms of sponsorship money, endorsement money and really are supporting women's golf over there in a very, very big way." He said that kind of support is a "key component to growing the game” (“Morning Drive,” Golf Channel, 10/15).