NGF TOP 100 BUSINESSES IN GOLF
Michael Whan – Commissioner
The Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) is the world’s leading professional golf organization for women, founded in 1950 and growing from its roots as a playing tour into a nonprofit organization involved in every facet of golf.
The LPGA Tour and the LPGA Teaching and Club Professionals (T&CP) comprise the backbone of what has become the world’s leading women’s professional sports organization.
The LPGA Tour is the top women’s tour, with 33 official events across 11 countries and a record $75.1 million in prize money in 2020. 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.
“As I enter my second decade as commissioner, we find ourselves in a new phase of the LPGA Tour. We’ve grown, but now we must flourish,” said LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan, who took over in 2010. “We talk a lot about the next generation, but we will lift this generation. I know a lot of our fans understand the difference we are making for women’s golf in America, but they might be surprised to know about the impact our Tour is having all around the globe.”
In addition to the professionals who play on tour, there are over 1,700 LPGA Teaching and Club Professional (T&CP) members, a group that’s dedicated to the advancement of golf through teaching, managing golf facilities and coaching.
Additionally, the LPGA Foundation was established in 1991 to empower, inspire and transform the lives of girls and young women through the game of golf.
Its main goals include developing and maintaining junior golf and scholarship programs, and conducting research and developing educational activities related to golf instruction. The LPGA Foundation helps expand the game of golf for young women through LPGA-USGA Girls Golf and empowers the next generation of leaders through the LPGA Leadership Academy.
Total prize money on the LPGA Tour has increased by more than 66% over the past eight years while overall LPGA revenue during that period has almost doubled.
Total broadcast hours on Golf Channel and network TV in the U.S. will exceed 500, a record high and more than twice the figure from 2011. The LPGA Tour will be televised in more than 175 countries and in more than 500 million households.
As LPGA players compete on the worldwide stage, its official development and qualifying tour — The Symetra Tour, will include at least 20 events for players on the official qualifying tour. Since Symetra’s inaugural sponsorship year in 2012, the Symetra Tour has grown from 16 tournaments and $1.7 million in prize money to a record $4 million awarded over the course of 23 tournaments in 2019.
Whan helped re-imagine the LPGA Tour’s business model when he took over 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 and TV coverage almost doubling. The numbers of sponsors have increased as well, particularly internationally. All these expanded opportunities mean a chance to grow the women’s game, as there’s no better tour opportunity when it comes to purses, global TV coverage, strength of field, or tournaments that span the globe.
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, and it makes sense why Whan recently received a new long-term contract.