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Volume 26 No. 232
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BODs Approve Whan's LPGA-LET Merger Proposal, LET Gets Final Say

LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan is "proposing a pathway to help players make their way" from the Ladies European Tour to the LPGA, but "access, in the beginning, would be limited to the LPGA's Q-Series, the final stage of the tour's Q-School," according to Randall Mell of GOLFCHANNEL.com. Whan last weekend flew to Spain in a bid to "close the deal" on the LPGA-LET merger. The LPGA and LET BODs have each "agreed to pursue a partnership, but the final say rests with LET players." Whan: "It's literally a 50-50 joint venture that we're proposing. Six members of a board from our side and six members of a board from their side. And all proceeds stay in Europe" (GOLFCHANNEL.com, 11/22). Whan said, "I want to make sure the European Tour players know that this is not some American growth strategy. I'm not expecting to make money at the LET." Whan said that the LPGA's mission is to "provide women the opportunity to pursue their dreams in the game of golf." In his pitch to the LPGA board, Whan said that he does not "see a boundary or a fence around that statement." GOLFWEEK's Beth Ann Nichols noted Whan compared the LET's "thin schedule" to what the LPGA looked like in '09, "shortly before he took over." Nichols: "In other words, it's dire." The LET had 28 tournaments in '08 and dropped to 15 events in '17 (GOLFWEEK.com, 11/22).

CLOSING THE GAPGOLFCHANNEL.com's Mell wrote now that Whan has "rebuilt the tour schedule, he's focused on continuing to build more lucrative financial opportunities for his players." Whan believes prize money and endorsement deals will "continue to grow as TV exposure grows." Whan: "Pay gap is going to close in women's golf, just like it's going to close in women's sports. It's not going to close because some ad agency comes up with a spreadsheet. ... That's not how social movements happen. It's going to happen because a couple people step up and say, 'You know what? This is the right thing to do. I can afford to do it, and by God, I'm going to do it.' And I think we're going to see the same thing happen in golf" (GOLFCHANNEL.com, 11/22).

BUILDING A PLATFORM: SPORTS BUSINESS JOURNAL's John Lombardo writes with 10 years of tenure and a track record of success under his belt, Whan remains "committed to the LPGA as he heads into his second decade with that property." Whan signals to the "increase in women's leadership conferences that are now a main staple attached to many tour events," and he is "proud of the growth of junior girls golf as the tour helps develop future generations of players." In the '19 season, 20 of the tour's 32 events had a women's conference tied to them. Whan last week confirmed that he has signed a long-term extension with the LPGA, which is "good news to veteran LPGA players, who say they don't want to see a change any time soon." Player Brittany Lincicome said of Whan, "The players who have been around long enough know how good of a leader he is. We think he is great and we hope he sticks around for a very long time" (SPORTS BUSINESS JOURNAL, 11/25 issue).