Mike Whan, the current commissioner of the LPGA, has decided to relinquish his position as the tour’s head in 2021, he announced in a letter released Wednesday morning.
Whan’s letter, addressed to his “LPGA Family,” comes after an 11-year term as the LPGA’s leader, and details numerous reasons why he’s leaving his post. Among them are his belief that the tour is in great financial standing despite a trying 2020 amid a global pandemic. You can read the entire letter here.
“I’m honored that you allowed me to lead us, speak for us, and build the most talented staff and strongest tour in LPGA history,” Whan said. “And, while the role of Commissioner is to be the voice of our Association, you – our members and staff – are the LPGA’s heart and soul (and always will be).”
Like most commissioners in pro sports, the past 12 months have represented a difficult period of Whan’s commissionership. The LPGA Tour was among the first sports leagues to consider the impact of the coronavirus, as it canceled multiple events in Asia weeks before the NBA, MLB and PGA Tour were forced to shut down their seasons.
Whan will likely be remembered most for what followed. On March 12, as the PGA Tour waffled on hosting the Players Championship, Whan tweeted to sponsors of LPGA Tour players:
“To all sponsors who endorse @LPGA athletes. PLEASE consider disregarding # of events they play or how many times they are televised in ‘20! I know they want to play, but we are keeping them (and others) safe. Please don’t penalize them for my decisions!! Respectfully, Mike”
It came during the very early days of the pandemic hitting America, when the Masters was still scheduled for April and cases were only being diagnosed in a handful of states. Whan’s message was applauded far and wide. Along with PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan, Whan would later be added to an advisory group by President Trump.
It remains unclear when a new LPGA Tour commissioner will be announced, but Whan clarified that he intends to remain in the position until the Board of Directors has chosen and prepared his replacement.