"I’m highly caffeinated, there’s no getting around it," said Mike Whan during his media conference call on Wednesday during which he was announced as the next CEO of the United States Golf Association.
The nuclear-fueled Whan has spent the last 11 years as commissioner of the Ladies Professional Golf Association, pulling that organization out of the doldrums and away from potential calamity.
During Whan’s tenure the LPGA has increased the number of tournaments from 24 to 34 and the total purses from $41.4 million to $76.5 million. And on Wednesday, NBC announced a massive increase in televised women’s tournaments to 34 with more than 500 hours of coverage, including the Olympics, college and amateur events.
"I love this game, I love this country and I love the process of getting better," Whan said. "The USGA gives me an opportunity to do all three and leave a real mark. It’s a chance to make a real difference in a sport that’s made a difference in my life."
Whan, 56, a veteran of golf and hockey equipment companies, made his mark at the LPGA by changing the culture, opening up the decision-making process and making sure that both players and sponsors were a big part of the process. Whan led not from the top but from the middle of conversations and all the players had his cell phone number.
When USGA CEO Mike Davis announced last year that he would be leaving to go into golf architecture, the golf world’s eyes turned to Whan, who at the start of the year said he was leaving the LPGA. Players were stunned and saddened but full of praise.
USGA president Stu Francis said the ruling body of golf in America was looking for someone who "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.