expectations. I was blessed with some gifts,
but patience wasn’t one of them. I may say to
people there is a three-year turnaround, but
what I’m thinking in my head is there is a six-month turnaround plan. I hate even saying
this out loud, but it’s a fact: We are in a weird
economic time and I have to tell my people
to stop using that as an excuse. Everybody
is in a weird economic time. You’ve got to
find a way. Having a business commit to a
long-term plan with the LPGA or any other
sports entity is not a phone call or a visit. It is
multiple phone calls, multiple visits, couple of
trips to board meetings, a couple of presentations, get ‘em out to events. And we’re in a
one- to two-year sales cycle. So I would say
the toughest part of the job is realizing that
it’s a slower process; it’s a longer sales cycle.
first 100 days just trying to listen and learn as
much as I could. Knowing that patience isn’t
my strength, I almost have to build things
that force me to be patient. One of them is
don’t walk into a situation and assume you
have the answer in the first 100 days. I think I
have the answer in 10 days; I just find out 90
days later that half of the answers are wrong,
but you are just not sure which half.
Korean LPGA star Hee Kyeong Seo, with commissioner Whan, won the LPGA Kia Classic earlier this year to earn
status on the Tour in 2011. The 24-year-old beauty’s nickname in Korea is “Supermodel of the Fairways.”
GGP;So the biggest frustration is...?
MW;The biggest frustration is, right now, the list
of companies that are planning to have an
event; want to have an event; know where
they want to have it; know what size purse
they’re going to have; know what they’re going to do with TV; and are just waiting.
And the reason they are waiting is that
between 20 and 35 percent of their marketing budget is frozen. If we had eight companies sitting here, six of them have a major
chunk of their marketing budget frozen.
Doesn’t mean they have turned them back;
doesn’t mean they’re not going to spend
them. It just means they are holding and
there is no way to get through that. It is the
anxiety of not knowing the future. And we
are an easy hold.
ing budgets? What needs to happen for the
ice chunks to start breaking up a little bit?
MW;I would have told you back in June or July
that the thaw was in process. In this job, you
really feel closer to the pulse of the economy
than I ever have before. I’ve never really
been a Wall Street Journal reader cover to
cover, but in this job I feel like I get it
every time I pick up the phone. And in June
or July we were in – I wouldn’t necessarily
quite say “go mode” – but they were talking about spending money again and talking
about what they are going to do with the now
re-appropriated budgets, and then about
August and September, everybody started
hitting the freeze button again.
What we need to have happen, I’m not
sure. It seems like when I started this job
most of my calls to corporate sponsors,
whether they were current or prospective
sponsors, started with, “You guys okay?”
kind of a concern for the LPGA. I’m glad that
they cared but it’s always strange to start a
conversation with, “Are you limping?” From
the LPGA perspective, the best thing that
has happened in 2010 is that we don’t get
those questions anymore. The best part is
we’re not in some sort of spiral. We’re not at
any kind of risk.
GGP;Will you announce your 2011 schedule soon?
MW;I think so. I remember sitting in Houston last
year, and I was the new commissioner but
wasn’t in the job yet. I knew I had a meeting
the next morning to talk about a 2010 tournament, so I thought we were announcing the
schedule as if it’s done, and then later, at
Christmas, I announced the Sybase Match Play
Championship. So I said to my group the same
thing: We’ve got at least three tournaments we
are still working on for 2011. Whether we will
go 0 for 3, 1 for 3 or 3 for 3, I have no idea.
GGP;How important is grasping “global” for the
MW;If you and I went to our website right now,
I promise you we are getting as many hits
from Japan, Korea, China, Taiwan and Australia as we are getting from the U.S. I have
said to all the girls, just like every business
I’ve ever been a part of, going global is a
little like going into a cave. You want to get to
the other end because that’s where you are
going, but the cave can be scary and dark
until you start seeing light. And over the last
couple of years, we’ve gone into the cave.
We’re going to make mistakes, we’re
going to be embarrassed, we’re going to say
things the wrong way, but the end result is A