New LPGA commissioner Michael Whan made a large impression on Tournament Owners Association members in his first meeting with them Thursday morning at the Rancho Bernardo Inn at San Diego.
He did so by giving out his cell phone number and e-mail address to TOA members at the end of his 20-minute speech.
It was a profound act in front of a membership that felt communication was a problem under the tour’s previous regime.
TOA members were also impressed that Whan flew cross country Wednesday night to be with them after being introduced as the LPGA’s eighth commissioner in a morning news conference in New York City. He joined about 50 tournament owners and title sponsors for breakfast Thursday morning, hopping from table to table before speaking to the entire membership.
“Very engaging, very nice,” said Gail Graham, president of the TOA. “He’s a very unpretentious man who fit in smoothly with everyone here. He gave us insight into who he is and what his passions are. I think what struck people most is that he came with no grandiose promises, but he came with a real willingness to work together for our collective success.”
Graham said Whan reiterated what he told media in his introduction, that his aim beginning the job will be to listen, learn and then lead.
“We were thrilled he could be here,” Graham said. “It was really a great gesture.”
Graham said what TOA members probably want most from Whan is meaningful communication. That's why his offering up his cell phone number and e-mail address meant so much.
“There will always be issues and challenges, but if you don’t talk about them, they will never be resolved,” Graham said. “I think this was a huge step to effective communication.”
Whan also impressed TOA members by telling them he always empties his inbox at the end of each day.
“But he told us to give him a few days to get his feet on the ground before e-mailing him,” Graham said.