cheap adidas running shoes ‘Crazy ideas’ at heart of commissioner’s rise
The LPGA commissioner walks back and forth on the CP Canadian Women’s Open driving range at London Hunt and Country Club, chatting to the players in between swings.
may be the sponsor of the Yankees but they’re not texting (Derek) Jeter or having conversations about his hits that night, the former golf and hockey equipment executive said. young kids out here get that. There’s nothing the matter with our product. We have young, social players and, when you’re here (at the course), you’re getting to know them.
interaction. started his own interaction with golf when he was 10, as a caddie back home in Naperville, Ill.
dad would drop me off to do the loop twice and say you have to have 40 bucks in your pocket when you go home, he said with a laugh.
From there, he was to the grounds crew.
first summer, I was the bunker boy, pulling weeds and edging, he said, if you survive, then you get to do riding mowers. I did that into college. I love the game, and have from a young age. So walking the range and talking to players is the best part of the job.
a chance to relax and be a golfer for a second. got into the golf gear biz by working with Wilson, then was hired by TaylorMade to run their North American operations. They were bought out by adidas. Around that time, he hooked up with Bob Naegele, the then owner of the Minnesota Wild NHL team.
owned a roller hockey company in California called Mission Hockey, Whan said. was struggling and he asked if I could help turn it around. Once we did, we got into the ice business and bought Itech and a company that had the patent on neck protection sewed into undershirts.
realized the future of neckguards would be sewn into the shirts and sold the business in 2008 (the same year the Ontario Hockey League made neckguards mandatory). had no plan to stay in sports. But with the LPGA was looking for a new commissioner four years ago, a trusted source told him he ought to take a swing.
He went to New York to meet the selection committee, which included a handful of players. There were a lot of challenges to overcome.
were looking for help and I love going to places where the need for change is pretty high because the push back is pretty low, Whan said. got a lot of crazy ideas and they’re not all good, but I felt it would be fun to move the needle with the LPGA. schedule with three or four events in a row, followed by an off week, started.
looked at the history and that’s the way the top players operate no one plays 44 weeks, he said. at 33 events and if we had 40, I tell the players two years from now, we’d be back to 35.
I had seven weeks in a row, they’d play four weeks and take one off, anyway. year, the tour went from four major tournaments to five. That was, in a word, unorthodox.
thing golf is full of is historians, Whan said. you would’ve asked me before becoming commissioner, how do you feel about five majors, I would’ve said I don’t like it. But then you see your role is to give these women the greatest global stage. We only have (maximum attention) five, six times a year, so another major gives us one more opportunity for people to care. Whan signed on, he was asked about the Korean players’ influence on the tour a source of controversy for about a decade in virtually every interview. He said he hasn’t heard it for the past three years.
said it all along and people thought I was nuts we’re going to be a small version of the Olympics in a few years, meaning a local event in somebody’s hometown with players from all over the world and 170 countries watching it on TV, he said. a lot like the companies that sponsor us. We’re based in a country, have a hometown, but we have customers all over the world and it’s important to showcase our brand that way. London’s turn this week.
you get on a plane and wonder what you’ll see, but I’ve never worried about this event, he said. Canada gets it and treats it like the premier event it is. We have a lot of good things going on between the ropes right now. The seventh, Michelle Wie, is injured.