NGF TOP 100 BUSINESSES IN GOLF
Michael Whan – Commissioner
Founded in 1950, the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) is the world’s leading professional golf organization for women and has a diverse and storied membership with more than 2,300 members representing more than 30 countries.
The organization has grown from its roots as a playing tour into a global nonprofit organization involved in almost every facet of the women’s game. The LPGA Tour and the LPGA Teaching and Club Professionals (T&CP) comprise the backbone of one of the longest-running women’s professional sports associations in the world. With a vision to inspire, empower, educate and entertain by showcasing the very best of women’s golf, LPGA Tour Professionals compete across the globe while the Symetra Tour, the LPGA’s official development and qualifying tour, produces a pipeline of talent ready for the world stage.
The LPGA through the LPGA Foundation is also playing a transformational role in expanding the game of golf for young women through LPGA-USGA Girls Golf and empowering the next generation of leaders through the LPGA Leadership Academy.
“The LPGA is all about growing the game of golf for women, and making sure that the best female players in the world have the best stage to showcase their skills,” said Michael Whan, who in 2010 became the LPGA’s eighth commissioner. ”I think our 67-year history speaks for itself, when it comes to creating real, meaningful growth.”
Today’s LPGA Tour features a global group of professional athletes who, in 2018, will compete in 34 official money events in 14 countries for a record $68.75 million in prize money. Of the more than 530 LPGA Tour members, approximately 220 are active competitors throughout the season. Of that group, 125 are international members representing 32 different countries.
“There is simply no better Tour opportunity in the world, when it comes to purses, global TV coverage or strength of field,” Whan says. “It’s an exciting time in women’s golf, with the best players from every corner of the globe competing against each other in virtually every event.”
Total prize money on the LPGA Tour has increased by 58% over the past six years while overall LPGA revenue during that period has soared by a staggering 88%.
Total broadcast hours on Golf Channel and network TV in the United States were a record high in 2017 at more than 415 hours, nearly double the figure from 2011. Twenty new title sponsors have been added to the LPGA Tour in the last seven years while 14 Official Marketing Partners have been acquired in just the last three years.
Whan helped re-imagine the LPGA Tour’s business model when he took over less than a decade ago, transforming the organization from one mostly focused on running tournaments and collecting dues from members into a global media property.
The LPGA’s growth under Whan’s guidance has been significant, with the tour’s total tournament prize money increasing by more than 70 percent. The numbers of sponsors have increased, particularly international, and the LPGA has a more substantial television presence. All these expanded opportunities mean a chance to grow the women’s game.
In fact, about one-third of all junior golfers now are girls, according to NGF data. It’s an encouraging sign for the LPGA, both in terms of the tour’s impact and its future.