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LPGA Commish comes to Waterloo. No one notices.

LPGA Commish Mike Whan

Or maybe it would be better said that LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan came to Waterloo to promote the tour’s new event in that city that kicks off this year and no one was told — or at least no one that wasn’t the Waterloo Record.

Yep, Whan was in Canada this week, and just hours removed from announcing his tour’s 2012 schedule (in 2012 interestingly), he was talking up the LPGA:

“What I promise you is that you’ll be awed by the talent you are watching. I can tell you that as a guy that’s been golfing my whole life,” said the 46-year-old Whan, who took over the reigns of the LPGA in January of 2010.

“You’ll be awed by two things. You’ll be awed by their performance and you’ll be awed by their willingness to engage with you. I think the one thing that separates the LPGA from most every other sport, not just golf, is you come out to watch one of our events and when you go home you feel like you’ve met one or two of our players. I don’t know another sport where you can say that.”

I might be awed by the talent, but I’m less than inspired by the promotional abilities of the tournament organizers. Whan was in town to talk up the event — or meet with organizers and cut ribbons — and what does the golf media hear? Nothing. Speaks volumes about the event’s PR strategy. I couldn’t find any other media coverage of Whan’s visit online either — though maybe some local radio or TV showed up to fill the local sports slot. I thought maybe the tournament organizers just didn’t like me — that’s possible surely? — so I asked around. No one at ScoreGolf heard about it either. In fact, no other media seemed to have been notified Whan was in Canada.

I would have thought Richard Kuypers, the tournament director and a former Golf Canada staffer, would have had a handle on promotions — but it doesn’t appear that’s not the case. On the other hand, Golf Canada struggles to get attention for the CN Canadian Women’s Open when it isn’t in Ontario, so maybe I shouldn’t be surprised.

The LPGA event in Waterloo, being held at Grey Silo, a muni with limited practice facilities and a less than fan-friendly layout, was created by Hugh Morrow of Sports Properties International, a Canadian firm. I’ve never spent any time with Morrow and until this event came up, I’d never heard of him.

Let’s hope Manulife took out some insurance in his event — and if it hasn’t, perhaps it would be prudent to do so.

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After yesterday’s post about the hiring of Ireland’s Tristan Mullally to head up the Canadian national women’s team, I had a notable golf professional call to discuss the matter. He asked me if I wanted a Canadian in the position, even if that person was the second-best candidate. When I said yes, he was slightly incredulous, though an interesting discussion ensued. He assured me the position was more than just administrative, that the person in the role had to have a good understanding of international golf and be able to work out programs with the coaches of the players. There is no reason, this person argued, that someone outside of Canada couldn’t take the job, and that the notion of a foreign individual running another nation’s team is common in other sports. I asked whether he thought it indicated there was no candidate that measured up to someone from Ireland and what that would indicate about Canada.

The one thing he mentioned was that Mullally was intent on rapidly becoming a member of the PGA of Canada, so perhaps the issue is moot anyway. Everyone I’ve spoken to about Mullally says he’s terrific and my source for the conversation said success will go a long way to dispelling the argument that we shouldn’t have hired someone from Ireland.

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

1 CommentLeave a comment

  • What was even more surprising he was on Golf Central last night and mentioned the new 2012 events leaving out Waterloo. hmmm

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