Mike Whan spent 11 years rebuilding the LPGA Tour to be strong enough to survive a pandemic. His next job is to keep the USGA at the forefront of golf in rapidly changing times.
The USGA announced Wednesday it has hired Whan as its next CEO, making him the eighth top executive in its 127-year history.
USGA President Stu Francis said the ruling body of golf in America wanted a leader who was well-versed in golf and loved the game, along with someone with a business perspective that “allowed you to think about where is golf is going, where is the USGA going and how do we position ourselves the best?”
“We kept coming back to the perfect person as Mike Whan,” he said.
Whan announced in January that he was leaving as LPGA commissioner. It was a surprising decision coming off a year in which the LPGA Tour, without guaranteed TV contracts, shut down for nearly five months and managed to play 16 tournaments and four majors. That was followed by a 34-tournament schedule this year with record prize money.
He replaces Mike Davis, who is leaving this year to start a golf architecture firm. Whan is expected to start his new job sometime this summer.
Whan, 56, began his career in marketing for Proctor & Gamble before leaving for management jobs at Wilson Golf and then TaylorMade. After eight years as CEO of equipment company Mission Hockey, he was hired as commissioner of an LPGA Tour that was losing tournaments.
During his 11 years, tournaments increased from 24 to 34, and total prize money increased from $41.4 million to $76.5 million.