News & Opinion

USGA introduces Mike Whan as CEO

Mike Whan
Mike Whan, who recently announced his resignation as LPGA commissioner, will become the CEO of the USGA this summer.

After rescuing LPGA as commissioner, Whan replaces longtime head Mike Davis at governing body for golf in U.S. and Mexico

Mike Whan, who announced his pending resignation as LPGA commissioner last month, didn’t take long to land his next position in golf.

Whan was introduced Wednesday as the CEO of the U.S. Golf Association, effective at an undetermined date this summer, according to a USGA news release. He replaces Mike Davis, who announced last year that he would resign in 2021 after three decades with the organization so that he could focus on course design and construction.

“Mike Whan is a proven, successful and transformative leader, not only in the golf industry but throughout his entire career,” USGA president Stu Francis, who oversaw the CEO search process, said in a statement. “He has shown a unique ability to understand how the environment is changing in global golf and how to quickly and thoughtfully adapt an organization to meet those changes. Importantly, Mike is already a trusted peer for so many key stakeholders in the industry, and his existing relationships will not only help the USGA, but will also help advance the game.”

Whan, who turned 56 on Feb. 10, recently completed his 11th year as the head of the LPGA, taking an organization that was on the brink of economic collapse in 2010 and elevating its profile in worldwide sports. Under his successor, Carolyn Bivens, the LPGA suffered a decline in sponsorship and a disastrous “English only” policy that she tried to enforce amid rising dominance from South Korean players. Bivens was forced by a player revolt to resign in late 2009.

Whan took control of the LPGA in 2010, immediately gained the confidence of the tour’s players and steadily rebuilt tournament sponsorship. This year, the LPGA will play 34 tournaments for a record $76.45 million in prize money after the 2020 schedule was decimated because of a four-month shutdown amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Whan also oversaw an agreement with the Ladies European Tour that led to the LET’s recent announcement of a record 27-event, $23 million-plus schedule for 2021.

The USGA, a nonprofit organization that was founded in 1894, is based in Liberty Corner, N.J. The USGA serves as the governing body for golf in the U.S. and Mexico.

“As someone who grew up loving this game, I have always had huge respect for the USGA and its role in leading our sport,” Whan said in a statement released by the USGA. “The game has given me so much throughout my life, both personally and professionally. I know I have a lot to learn, but I’m truly excited about this role, as it gives me the opportunity to not only give back to the game, but to also work hard to leave it stronger.”   

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