LPGA names Michael Whan as new commissioner

Written by: Tony Korologos | Thursday, October 29th, 2009
Categories: LPGA TourPro Golf

The LPGA has named Michael Whan as their new commissioner. Whan was previously an executive VP for TaylorMade-Adidas and president CEO of Mission-Itech Hockey.

I’m not the biggest LPGA fan in the world. In fact I haven’t watched an LPGA tournament since Annika Sorenstam retired. I’m not sure naming anyone as commissioner can help their cause all that much with today’s economy.

The rest of the news release is below:

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., October 28, 2009 – Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Board of Directors Chairman Dawn Hudson announced today that the LPGA Board has named Michael Whan the LPGA’s new Commissioner. Whan, most recently President and Chief Executive Officer of Mission-Itech Hockey, has a personal and professional background in golf, including serving as Executive Vice President and General Manager (North American Region) for Taylormade-adidas Golf.

The appointment follows an extensive three-month international search led by an LPGA Search Committee comprised of LPGA Board player members Juli Inkster and Helen Alfredsson along with fellow LPGA Board members Bill Morton and Leslie Greis, who chaired the Committee.

“We established very strict criteria for the position of Commissioner and Mike impressed us not only with his background and intellect but also his passion for golf,” Hudson said. “I commend the Search Committee for their exhaustive work and commitment, and we look forward to the months and years ahead with Mike as our Commissioner. We also owe a great debt of gratitude to Acting Commissioner Marty Evans. Her success over the past three months during a potentially difficult transition period not only allowed the Search Committee time to conduct a thorough search but also has provided our new Commissioner with positive momentum and a revitalized platform upon which to grow the LPGA in the sports and business marketplace.”

Evans will work with Whan during a transition period before he officially assumes the Commissioner helm in January 2010. Both Whan and Evans will attend the LPGA Tour Championship Presented by Rolex the week of November 16 in Houston, where a player meeting will be held and the 2010 LPGA season schedule will be released.

“The LPGA is a resurging, resilient association, and Mike will be a leader around which the wonderful LPGA staff and all of our stakeholders-players, fans, sponsors, TV partners, tournament owners and others-will rally,” Evans said. “Mike will enjoy working within the reenergized climate of collaboration that we’ve all worked so hard to create this season. I’m looking forward to working closely with him during the transition period as we celebrate the close of a tremendous season and look forward to the LPGA’s 60th year in 2010.”

“It is rare to work for an organization that combines all the passions in your life, but with the LPGA, I feel I’ve been presented with the unique opportunity to do just that,” Whan said. “First, this is an association surrounded by passionate, value-driven people. Second, I’m energized by brand building and the work involved in marketing and growing a sport. Third, I simply love the game of golf-both the life lessons it teaches and the friendships it helps create.”

Whan, 44, started his business career at the Procter & Gamble Company in 1987, rising within the ranks as a brand assistant, Brand Manager and eventually Director of Marketing, Oral Care, before branching out to follow his passion for sports. In 1994-95, he served as a Vice President and General Manager at the Wilson Sporting Goods Company responsible for all aspects of the golf ball and glove business. He also managed the marketing department, two manufacturing facilities and the Research & Development division.

At the TaylorMade Golf Company, Whan started as Vice President Marketing and over the course of his four-year tenure was promoted to Vice President, Sales and Marketing and eventually EVP/General Manager-North America for Taylormade-adidas Golf. In his role as General Manager, Whan’s business unit represented more than 70 percent of the company’s worldwide sales and profit.

“Mike possesses substantial leadership experience in golf and sports, the ability to build consensus in complex organizations and a proven track record of building brands,” Greis said. “Equally important, his passion for golf is palpable, having grown up playing golf with his father and friends. Mike was the kid hanging around the golf courses, cutting the greens and caddying to earn extra money. He’s a great fit for the LPGA on both a professional and personal level.”

Whan served as President/Chief Marketing Officer for Britesmile, Inc., from 1999-2002, before returning to sports at Mission Hockey, a hockey equipment company. During his seven-year tenure in the hockey business, he restructured and redefined the company, then acquired Itech Sports to create Mission-Itech Hockey. When Whan finalized the sale of Mission-Itech Hockey late last year, it commanded market share leadership in nine product categories, sales in more than 30 countries and had more than 50 percent of the National Hockey League (NHL) players using the brands.

“We interviewed a number of great candidates, but Mike really stood out as someone with integrity, honesty and a life-long passion for the sport,” Alfredsson said. “He will bring a lot of energy and enthusiasm to the LPGA at a critical time for our association.” Added Inkster: “Mike clearly demonstrated a desire to make sure that the LPGA remains the best women’s sports organization in the world. He has the whole package of what we were looking for, and he’ll do what’s needed to make sure that we’re successful.”

Whan will serve as the LPGA’s eighth Commissioner. He and his wife, Meg, and his three children, Austin (15), Wesley (13) and Connor (12), currently live in California and will relocate to Florida, home of the LPGA Headquarters, next year.

The LPGA Board of Directors consists of player members Alfredsson, Inkster, Michelle Ellis, Sherri Steinhauer, Pat Hurst, Christina Kim and Stacy Prammanasudh; Patti Benson, national president of the LPGA Teaching & Club Professionals; and independent directors Hudson, Greis, Morton, Bill Susetka and Nancy Wiese.

About the Ladies Professional Golf Association
The LPGA was founded in 1950 and today boasts a membership comprised of world-class LPGA Tour professionals and more than 1,300 dedicated Teaching and Club Professionals (T&CP). Players on the LPGA Tour, who represent more than 25 countries, compete globally showcasing the very best of women’s professional golf. LPGA T&CP members directly impact the growth of the game through teaching, coaching and management positions, and oversee programs aimed at increasing the involvement of women, girls and youth in golf. The LPGA’s Vision is to inspire, empower, educate and entertain by showcasing the best golf professionals in the world. Its Mission is to be a leader in the world of sports, to promote economic empowerment for all members, and to serve as role models on and off the course. The LPGA is headquartered in Daytona Beach, Fla. For more information on the LPGA, log on to www.LPGA.com.

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