Confessions of a Commissioner

By Randall MellSeptember 23, 2010, 2:30 am

LPGA Tour _newORLANDO, Fla. – Mike Whan didn’t want the LPGA commissioner’s job a year ago.

He confesses this in the clubhouse at Grand Cypress Golf Club Wednesday. He confesses it after the crowd has disappeared at the end of media day activities for the new LPGA Tour Championship scheduled to be played here Dec. 2-5.

“I probably shouldn't say this, but when I first got the call from the recruiter about the commissioner’s job, my reaction was, `I don’t think this job is for me,’” Whan says.

A year ago, Whan was living in Southern California with his wife and their three children, working as a consultant after selling Mission Itech hockey, a small hockey equipment company he helped build into the darling of the larger company that bought it. He was at home when Jed Hughes, a recruiter with the executive search firm Spencer Stuart, called him on behalf of the LPGA.

“My promise to my wife was that whatever we did next, we wouldn't have to move,” Whan said. “The other thing I promised is that we wouldn't have much travel. So, when the recruiter said, `Hey, Mike, I have this thing, and it’s perfect fit for you,’ I said it’s not a perfect fit. It was a move to Florida, to a job where you traveled just about every day. To his credit, Jed kept calling me and calling me, and he kept saying, `I think you’re the right guy for the job.’”

On Oct. 28 of last year, the LPGA’s Board of Directors approved Whan as its new commissioner.

Though Whan didn’t officially begin his new position until Jan. 1 of this year, he was on the job moments after the board’s approval, preparing for the challenge of his life.

“At first, I said to the board, `I don’t think I can do this job, because I don’t think you can be a good father and be a good commissioner,’” Whan remembers. “At least, if you can, I need to talk to somebody who’s doing it.”

Charlie Mechem, a former LPGA commissioner, convinced Whan that he could do both jobs and be an inspiration to his children while doing it. Mechem told Whan that when Whan’s children became teenagers, they would stop listening to him and start watching him. He told Whan that if he wanted his children to follow their passions, he would have to show them how. It was the idea that led Whan to take the job. He’s been showing his children and LPGA staff how to do just that ever since.

All of this was notable Wednesday because Whan is selling the LPGA’s new Tour Championship as a homecoming for his players, his LPGA staff and his own transplanted family.

Whan said it will feel like an LPGA home game because it will be played in Orlando, a city that is home to 50 LPGA players and because it will be just a short drive from the LPGA offices, where his staff will have a strong presence the entire week. Anna Nordqvist, the defending champ, has a home near Grand Cypress and plays the course a lot.

And Whan lives in nearby Lake Mary, on the northeast side of Orlando.

“This is the first press conference in my nine or 10 months on the job that I’ve been able to drive to,” Whan said. “This will be the first tournament I drive to. It will be the first tournament we are playing where I can kiss my kids good night at the end of the day.”

Whan’s showing more than his children how to pursue their passions as a parent and professional. He’s showing his players.

While Whan is a fixture at so many LPGA events, a regular in so many LPGA pro-ams, he’s nearly always home on Fridays for a full family weekend sports schedule. His oldest son, Austin, 16, is a receiver for Bishop Moore High School. His middle son, Wesley, 14, plays travel hockey. His youngest son, Connor, 13, plays baseball.

“Being a good father and a good commissioner, that’s still my biggest concern,” Whan said of juggling family and career. “I fight the battle.

“If you look for me on Friday at an LPGA tournament, I’m not there, because I’m at the Bishop Moore Friday night football games my son is playing in. Saturday mornings, you can call me, but I’m at my son’s Little League game. Two weeks from now, I’m taking my middle son to Detroit for a hockey tournament.

“I’ll work a lot of hours, but that stuff has to be off limits.”

With the LPGA gearing up to add a tournament or two next year, to equal or surpass this year's schedule despite these hard economic times, you won’t find many LPGA pros who doubt Whan’s commitment and his passion. You also won’t find many begrudging him a home game in the year’s final LPGA event.

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Miller to retire from broadcast booth in 2019

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 15, 2018, 9:14 pm

After nearly 30 years in the broadcast booth, Johnny Miller is ready to hang up his microphone.

Following a Hall of Fame playing career that included a pair of major titles, Miller has become one of the most outspoken voices in the game as lead golf analyst for NBC Sports. But at age 71 he has decided to retire from broadcasting following the 2019 Waste Management Phoenix Open.

“The call of being there for my grandkids, to teach them how to fish. I felt it was a higher calling,” Miller told “The parents are trying to make a living, and grandparents can be there like my father was with my four boys. He was there every day for them. I'm a big believer that there is a time and a season for everything.”

Miller was named lead analyst for NBC in 1990, making his broadcast debut at what was then known as the Bob Hope Desert Classic. He still remained competitive, notably winning the 1994 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am at age 46, but made an indelible mark on the next generation of Tour pros with his frank and candid assessment of the action from some of golf’s biggest events.

Miller’s broadcasting career has included 20 U.S. Opens, 14 Ryder Cups, nine Presidents Cups, three Open Championships and the 2016 Olympics. While he has teamed in the booth with Dan Hicks for the past 20 years, Miller’s previous on-air partners included Bryant Gumbel, Charlie Jones, Jim Lampley and Dick Enberg.

His farewell event will be in Phoenix Jan. 31-Feb. 3, at a tournament he won in back-to-back years in 1974-75.

“When it comes to serving golf fans with sharp insight on what is happening inside the ropes, Johnny Miller is the gold standard,” said NBC lead golf producer Tommy Roy. “It has been an honor working with him, and while it might not be Johnny’s personal style, it will be fun to send him off at one of the PGA Tour’s best parties at TPC Scottsdale.”

Miller was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1998 after a playing career that included wins at the 1973 U.S. Open at Oakmont and The Open in 1976 at Royal Birkdale. Before turning pro, he won the 1964 U.S. Junior Amateur and was low amateur at the 1966 U.S. Open at Olympic, where he tied for eighth at age 19.

Born and raised in San Francisco, Miller now lives in Utah with his wife, Linda, and annually serves as tournament host of the PGA Tour’s Safeway Open in Napa, Calif.

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Randall's Rant: Tiger vs. Phil feels like a ripoff

By Randall MellOctober 15, 2018, 7:45 pm

Usually, you have to buy something before you feel like you were ripped off.

The wonder in the marketing of Tiger vs. Phil and “The Match” is how it is making so many people feel as if they are getting ripped off before they’ve shelled out a single penny for the product.

Phil Mickelson gets credit for this miscue.

Apparently, the smartest guy in the room isn’t the smartest marketing guy.

He was a little bit like that telemarketer who teases you into thinking you’ve won a free weekend getaway, only to lead you into the discovery that there’s a shady catch, with fine print and a price tag.

There was something as slippery as snake oil in the original pitch.

In Mickelson’s eagerness to create some excitement, he hinted back during The Players in May about the possibility of a big-money, head-to-head match with Woods. A couple months later, he leaked more details, before it was ready to be fully announced.

So while there was an initial buzz over news of the Thanksgiving weekend matchup, the original pitch set up a real buzzkill when it was later announced that you were only going to get to see it live on pay-per-view.

The news landed with a thud but no price tag. We’re still waiting to see what it’s going to cost when these two meet at Shadow Creek in Las Vegas, but anything that feels even slightly inflated now is going to further dampen the original enthusiasm Mickelson created.

Without Woods or Mickelson putting up their own money, this $9 million winner-take-all event was always going to feel more like a money grab than real competition.

When we were expecting to see it on network or cable TV, we didn’t care so much. Tiger's and Phil’s hands would have felt as if they were reaching into corporate America’s pockets. Now, it feels as if they’re digging into ours.

Last week, there was more disappointing news, with the Las Vegas Review-Journal reporting that tickets won’t be sold to the public, that the match at Shadow Creek will only be open to select sponsors and VIPs.

Now there’s a larger insult to the common fan, who can’t help but feel he isn’t worthy or important enough to gain admittance.

Sorry, but that’s how news of a closed gate landed on the heels of the pay-per-view news.

“The Match” was never going to be meaningful golf in any historical sense.

This matchup was never going to rekindle the magic Tiger vs. Phil brought in their epic Duel at Doral in ’05.

The $9 million was never going to buy the legitimacy a major championship or PGA Tour Sunday clash could bring.

It was never going to be more than an exhibition, with no lingering historical significance, but that was OK as quasi silly-season fare on TV on Thanksgiving weekend (Nov. 23), the traditional weekend of the old Skins Game.

“The Match” still has a chance to be meaningful, but first and foremost as entertainment, not real competition. That’s what this was always going to be about, but now the bar is raised.

Pay per view does that.

“You get what you pay for” is an adage that doesn’t apply to free (or already-paid for) TV. It does to pay per view. Expectations go way up when you aren’t just channel surfing to a telecast. So the higher the price tag they end up putting on this showdown, the more entertaining this has to be.

If Phil brings his “A-Game” to his trash talking, and if Tiger can bring some clever repartee, this can still be fun. If the prerecorded segments wedged between shots are insightful, even meaningful in their ability to make us understand these players in ways we didn’t before, this will be worthwhile.

Ultimately, “The Match” is a success if it leaves folks who paid to see it feeling as if they weren’t as ripped off as the people who refused to pay for it. That’s the handicap a history of free golf on TV brings. Welcome to pay-per-view, Tiger and Phil.

Celia Barquin Arozamena Iowa State University athletics

Trial date set for drifter charged with killing Barquin Arozamena

By Associated PressOctober 15, 2018, 7:28 pm

AMES, Iowa – A judge has scheduled a January trial for a 22-year-old Iowa drifter charged with killing a top amateur golfer from Spain.

District Judge Bethany Currie ruled Monday that Collin Richards will stand trial Jan. 15 for first-degree murder in the death of Iowa State University student Celia Barquin Arozamena.

Richards entered a written not guilty plea Monday morning and waived his right to a speedy trial. The filing canceled an in-person arraignment hearing that had been scheduled for later Monday.

Investigators say Richards attacked Barquin on Sept. 17 while she was playing a round at a public course in Ames, near the university campus. Her body was found in a pond on the course riddled with stab wounds.

Richards faces life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted.

LeBron's son tries golf, and he might be good at everything

By Grill Room TeamOctober 15, 2018, 5:36 pm

LeBron James' son seems well on his way to a successful basketball career of his own. To wit:

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Finally got it down lol

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But with just a little work, he could pass on trying to surpass his father and try to take on Tiger and Jack, instead.

Bronny posted this video to Instagram of him in sandals whacking balls off a mat atop a deck into a large body of water, which is the golfer's definition of living your best life.

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How far, maybe 400 #happygilmore

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If you listen closely, at the end of the clip, you can just barely hear someone scream out for a marine biologist.