How does the LPGA today compare to 2010?
The word I come up with is “rising.” I’ve started a lot of sales presentations with the guy on the
other side of the table going, “Gee, are you guys OK?” That hasn’t happened in a year and a half,
and generally speaking it’s just the opposite now. The guy will say, “Hey, I hear good things. It’s
pretty cool that you are going to China.”
The LPGA schedule fell to 23 events in 2011, and it is now back to 28. What has been your sales pitch?
The more I learned to put the attention on the players and on the experience, the better I’ve
done. The problem with sports sponsorship is that it’s hard to make sense in a boardroom. The
smartest thing I do is get prospective sponsors to experience it—play in a pro-am, sit on the
18th green, come into the TV tower. Our product delivers.
How important is it to have some founding members (e.g. Marilynn Smith and Louise Suggs) around?
We as an organization got away from that. Over the course of 50 or 60 years, we stopped paying
attention to the foundation that got us there. One of the things I am personally proud of is that
[awareness] is alive in the organization again. The “think like a founder” philosophy is alive and well.
Given the three pro wins by 15-year-old Lydia Ko, including one on the LPGA, where do you stand on
the minimum-age rule?
There is a constitutional age of 18 for members, then we have “commissioner’s discretion.” I can
make a decision we think is in the best interest of the organization and the player. Among the
struggles for me has been the inconsistency in petitions for an exception to the age rule. I see
petitions that are a paragraph long and hand-written by a player to literally 72 pages with color
attachments that was clearly written by a lawyer.
We are going to [specify] petition requirements. Obviously, I want to see your playing accomplishments, but I also want to understand your education and what your educational plans are.
I’m going to ask for an essay that addresses key things: How will becoming an LPGA member
benefit you? How will it benefit the LPGA? I want to know why you want to be on the LPGA if we
are not your home tour.