The LPGA Commissioner is well on the way to destroying the tour she was appointed to run. Here is the latest news.
CHARLESTON, S.C. – A $2.6 million LPGA event will be staged here next year, a week following the Senior PGA Championship at Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course.
The event, the Ginn Tribute hosted by Annika Sorenstam, will be held May 31-June 3 at the RiverTowne Country Club in nearby Mount Pleasant.
“It’s exciting news. It’s a great event coming up on our schedule,” Sorenstam told The (Charleston) Post and Courier. “We’ll try to attract the best players and really make it a special event.”
The purse for the tournament, which will be televised by NBC, is one of the richest payoffs of any LPGA event.
Isn’t this wonderful news? A new tournament with a big purse? Not if you read this.
New dates may have the ShopRite Classic and LPGA heading to court
By Ron Sirak
Golf World July 14, 2006
There is more turbulence on the LPGA Tour between its administration and tournament sponsors. This week’s dilemma: Will a new sponsor with deep pockets double its presence on the tour? Will the rookie commissioner turn her back on an event that has been loyal to women’s golf for 21 years and give its spot on the schedule to the rich new kid on the block? And will the spurned event strike back by taking legal action against the LPGA, further complicating what has already been an awkward transition in leadership? The answers, mostly, are “yes.”
According to sources familiar with the situation, the LPGA will announce next week a new event in South Carolina and sponsored by Ginn Clubs & Resorts, which debuted as a sponsor this year with a $2.5 million stop in Orlando. That’s the good news. The problem is the date discussed with the new tournament is the week before the McDonald’s LPGA Championship–a spot currently occupied by the ShopRite LPGA Classic, won this year by Seon Hwa Lee (pictured). Larry Harrison, general chairman of the Atlantic City event since its inception in 1986, says he’ll sue if his date is given away.
“We have a letter from the previous administration guaranteeing us that date in ’07 and ’08,” Harrison told Golf World. “Our lawyers think we have a very strong position. We told [the LPGA] if they announce this date we will pursue legal action.”
Harrison says he was supposed to meet with LPGA commissioner Carolyn Bivens last week in Philadelphia, but she was unable to attend because of airline problems. The tour’s chief legal officer, Libba Galloway, and its VP for business affairs, Mike Nichols, did make the meeting. Asked how the get-together went, Harrison said: “Not very well.” Bivens also missed the HSBC Women’s World Match Play last week which, like the ShopRite, is held in New Jersey.
According to Harrison, the ShopRite has given $12 million to charity since 1986–$1.8 million last year–and was offered three alternative dates by the LPGA: The week opposite the men’s U.S. Open; the week of July 4th; and the week between tournaments in California and Mexico. None of those dates are acceptable to Harrison.
“We went up against the men’s Open once before and it was a total disaster,” he said. “No gallery, no press.” July 4th weekend on the Jersey shore would be impossible because of the lack of reasonable hotel room rates for the players or casinos for the two parties during the event. “And what kind of field would I get if we were between stops in California and Mexico?” Harrison asked.
So the LPGA has antagonized a long-time sponsor, gotten themselves in a potential lawsuit they can very well lose and probably scared other tournament sponsors. And what for? Bivens seems to be sending a message you’re only as good as your last tournament. This is suicidal for a tour with money problems, decaying tournament scheduling and sponsor retention problems.
Then throw in the media credentials debacle from last spring, staff turnover and dissent at the LPGA HQ, and the LPGA Championship television rights controversy, little good news is coming out of Daytona Beach and several disasters are looming.
Michelle Wie could do wonders for the tour once she becomes a member. But will there be an LPGA for Michelle to star on? The message is clear, Carolyn Bivens has to go or the LPGA is sunk.
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