Wednesday, January 12

VIDEO: Commish Mike Whan Introduces LPGA Founders Cup

I CAN TELL THAT LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan is a marketing guy. I don’t mean that in a bad way. It’s a good thing, actually. The commish is a good pitch man, just what these challenging economic times call for—especially for the ladies tour.

In the video, Whan introduces the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup, an inaugural event that pays tribute to the 13 women who founded the LPGA Tour. The tournament will be played on March 18-20 in Phoenix, the new season’s first LPGA stop in the United States. There are a total of 25 events on the 2011 schedule. A dozen are overseas.

I like the concept of the founders tournament. Whan sells it well. The part that’s stirred debate is the charity aspect of the event. The entire $1.3 million purse will go to the LPGA Foundation and the LPGA-USGA Girls Golf program. In other words, the ladies will play for free. Apparently, they will receive money for travel and other tournament-related expenses, such as lodging, meals and paying their caddies.

This might be a bad idea, as some have suggested. You shouldn’t give away the product, the argument goes. It devalues the ladies game.

But, like a true marketing guy, Whan is willing to try something new, to test it, and see how it works. Whether or not it works, you always learn from doing a marketing experiment. I don’t think it will do harm to the women’s game.

The ladies need events and domestic title sponsors. This adds one to the schedule. They’ve always played for less money. At this one tournament, they’ll take it to the extreme.

−The Armchair Golfer

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