Al Lunsford of Links chatted with Mike Whan on his way out of the LPGA Commissionership and into the USGA CEO job, where he says his immediate priority is to learn the rules and ask questions.
But his response to a question about the biggest obstacle to LPGA Tour popularity is a good reminder about what his successor faces:
I’ve always struggled with, “You just don’t deliver the viewership of the others.” Well, they’re paid to be on network TV 35 weeks a year; we write a check six times a year to be on network TV. If you asked me to run a 100-yard dash but I have to start 170 yards back, I don’t expect to win many races. We’ve closed the gap—virtually 12 years of viewership increases in the U.S. and around the world—but we’ve still never been given an equal playing field. It’s hard to engage with athletes you don’t see very much.
His comment about the LPGA having to pay to get on networks has been made before, but it’s still fascinating to hear given the recent gender equity talk.
Also noteworthy: Whan essentially says being on the Golf Channel means the tour is not seen very much. Psst…Mike, they host all of your new job’s events. Be nice!