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LPGA MEDIA CONFERENCE
April 29, 2020
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, everyone, for coming. Glad you could join us. I can't believe it's been a while since we've chatted, but happy to have you.
Right now, I'll turn things over to Mike, and Mike, I can't believe it's been a month since we last had one of these chats. Feels like so much has happened. If you could talk us through the release that went out earlier today and what the Tour will expect for the rest of the year.
MIKE WHAN: Yeah, thanks, Armstrong. Hopefully the release is pretty self-explanatory, and probably not earth-shattering for most of you. When we had this conversation a month ago when we announced a mid-June start, I think we were pretty clear at the time of announcing that even the events that we had in June had backup dates, and more recently here in the last couple weeks we've moved those dates, Arkansas with Wal-Mart in Rogers, Arkansas, is moving back to late August and the KPMG with the Women's PGA is moving back to the first week of October. So we were able to essentially buy an extra month of our start without really losing any starts, if you will, or any tournament opportunities.
We did decide not to play the UL International Crown this year so that we could get in an official full field LPGA event when those are going to be pretty priceless in the back half of '20. Obviously now it gets a little harder, so I think we're going to hope for some continued improvement. I think it's the first week at least that I can remember in quarantine time of hearing some positive signs.
I had a video chat with my team in Korea yesterday that were all out for pizza and beer for the first time, no masks at a restaurant was a pretty unique experience for us because a month and a half ago, two months ago, Korea was in a pretty dark place, and now I kind of feel like we've changed places and they're starting to come back.
The season will be really busy. As long as we can pull off the schedule now we put in front of us, the season can be really busy, and I think from an opportunity perspective for our athletes and our caddies, there's still over $56 million up for grabs, and we're going to play for almost $2.7 million every time we tee it up, so that would be the highest ever average event in the LPGA history. So I'm excited about the fact that despite an awful lot of cat herding in the last eight weeks, I feel like we're at a place now where we can still provide opportunity. We can still provide worldwide television coverage, and I'm really excited about not only being able to fill all these weeks but to be able to put together a pretty strong finish when we go from Dallas to Houston to Naples in a one-two-three finish with $13 or so million on the line over three weeks, I think it's going to be a pretty exciting way for us to wrap up 2020.
As I said, we're now kind of up against the rock and the hard place where if things either can't or won't play at this point, there's really nowhere to put them. You guys can look through and see for yourself that your options are the Masters or Thanksgiving week, two really sought-after weeks in terms of what you'd want to play against as a sponsor. So we're pretty full, but we like our weeks, and I think we're proud of the fact that we're going to be able to provide some opportunities, some financial upside, and hopefully get started.
I know as soon as I released this, people sent me about gather restrictions in other parts of the world. I think the good of the bad news is I'm pretty tuned into those things and know what they're doing kind of before they're doing it, but this schedule predicts those things and builds tournaments that could still play within the restrictions that are laid out in those different markets.
But I'm not naïve enough not to think that we still need to see progress as it not only relates to the virus and the curve but as it relates to testing and our ability to make sure we can create a safe environment everywhere we play, but I think we've now bought ourselves enough time between now and then to deliver what we believe is a realistic schedule and a realistic operation plan to deliver a schedule that our athletes and our sponsors will be excited about being a part of.
THE MODERATOR: It's a great schedule, it's a full schedule, and it's one that includes all five majors, plus the CME Group TOUR Championship. I know that was incredibly important to the team. How fulfilling is it to get that done for the team and for the Tour this year?
MIKE WHAN: Well, you guys certainly know Armstrong and on your side and certainly everybody else on the call from a media side knows that we don't get the limelight of majors every week, week in and week out. So keeping those big opportunities that are career-changing for the athletes, that are game-changing for the LPGA brand and for our fans around the world to get the kind of coverage they don't really -- a lot of people have said to me, why did you choose the date for ANA that you chose. I get it; it's hot in the desert, but we chose a week where we can still deliver 28 hours of TV, and 28 hours of TV may just be next week for some tours or sports, but it isn't the case on the LPGA. So I'm excited about the fact that we have all these in.
As I said in the beginning, we know that there's going to be some fingers crossing here along the way to make sure we can execute everything that's on paper, but I think everybody that's on the paper here feels like this is doable, and I know from my team's perspective, some of which are on the phone today, we know this gives us the time to build the operation plan, not just on the LPGA but on the Symetra and LET Tours, as we really want to have when athletes come back to play.
Q. Two questions: When the Tour gets back, do you anticipate that there will be spectators in mid-July?
MIKE WHAN: So I don't think there will be a one-sized-fits-all answer for that. I'm not going to tell you that for X number of weeks or X number of events. I will tell you that most of our tournaments would prefer, for obvious reasons, to have a hometown experience, to have fans out there, to have their customers out there.
Whether or not that's doable -- what we've essentially said with each tournament is let's make a final assessment of what we can build and if you will build 45 days before we go. So for example we're going to be taking a real good look at mid-July at the 1st of June, and the reason we're doing it that way is if you make any decision about a sporting event in April, your answer is don't have it. But if you would have made it 60 days before, it would have been such a different world. We're not sure what another month from now feels like, but we know it'll be different, we just don't know how.
I would tell you like, for example, in France and in Scotland, right now the gather restrictions are still pretty tight, so we've got some plans to play fan-free events in those markets. Will we have to play those fan free? We'll decide those about mid-July, about 45 days before we would be heading to those events.
I think what you should expect is not a one-size-fits-all. You might see there's a difference right now between playing in Michigan and playing in Arkansas. There may not be that difference in another month or two, but today there are.
Some cases yes, some cases no, but none of them have made a final that's-the-way-it's-going-to-be decision today, and I've encouraged them not to.
Q. I know testing is going to be such a big key to this. Is the government helping you come by tests? How is that process working for how many you think you'll need, if everyone is going to get tested every day at an event? Do you think you'll be able to get what you need, or is that a concern?
MIKE WHAN: Yeah, so a couple questions there, and remind me at the end if I answered it, but I would tell you what the government is doing for us is getting us connected to other sports and leagues. It's embarrassing to say that it probably took that. We were pretty connected as a golf group, but knowing what's going on in hockey, what's going on in baseball, how they're thinking about things at MLS has been helpful. It's been really helpful. It's also helped us with where are you sourcing your testing; this is the group we're talking to. What's your timing to get? Is that an appropriate -- what's your -- if you're saying May 15, are you really thinking June 1?
I think sometimes when you're in one of these situations, just being in it with somebody else who's asking a lot of the same questions has been helpful for us and our team, so we've learned new sourcing opportunities, we've learned new timelines and even new approaches by talking to other leagues, not just other tours.
Yeah, testing is definitely going to be part of us coming back together. I've said that from the beginning; we're not going to get back until I believe we can create an environment that's not just safe for our athletes and our caddies but safe for our staff, safe for the people that are volunteering around our event and for the cities we enter. We obviously realize when we show up we're a pretty global group and we're coming from all over the world. I want to make sure that town feels as comfortable as I do about us coming and about us staying healthy along the way. Yeah, I would tell you that a lot of our timeline is built around our comfort level in delivering an operations plan that we think creates program safe enough for us.
That doesn't mean other people can't and won't do it faster. In fact, I know plenty of people that both can and will, that either have more resources or more ability to -- more team size and ability to go at it, but I think what we've built is a schedule that I think fits with our ability to deliver our own internal expectations.
Did I answer that?
Q. Do you think you'll be testing every day? Do you anticipate that every day athletes and caddies will be tested?
MIKE WHAN: I don't know if we'll be virus testing every day, but I think we'll be virus testing pretty regularly. There will be some testing going on every day, and at a minimum you'll probably be getting a fever scan, a thermal scan for fever with facial recognition. But how often we'll be virus testing is still to be determined, but I've told the players and the caddies, expect it to be regular at our events.
Q. Just checking on the health of your players; have you had any player contract COVID-19 or any officials or staff members? How are you guys doing?
MIKE WHAN: Heather, I'll let you chime in. I'm not aware of an existing player. Is that true, Heather?
HEATHER DALY-DONOFRIO: No, not to my knowledge. We're doing well across the board.
MIKE WHAN: I'm assuming there's a follow-up to that. We have no knowledge of a player or caddie with COVID-19 or who have had it before.
Q. Two of your first five events are going to be majors; one of them is -- before that first one you have three events; one is a 54-hole; one is a 72; one is a team event. Just curious how you guys are going to work about the challenge of qualifying, how you're changing qualifying. That would affect your next major because you go from playing -- your third event is a major and your fifth event is a major, but then you have other things, too. How are those adjustments going?
MIKE WHAN: Yeah, I would say the number one email, call and text that Heather and I and probably Vicki gets, Ackerman, who's player president, get not only today, anytime we do an update of any sort, anytime I send out anything is about priority lists and where things are going to stand.
What we've essentially said is we've got multiple scenarios, but we've essentially got three scenarios where you could have an official season. You could still have an official 2020 season, but we're calling it the hybrid, which means at the end of the year, it would be a large reshuffle but nobody loses their card, and then quite frankly if we get back and start playing in July but can't start playing regularly or worst case is we can't get started in July and we start losing chunks of the summer, we're probably staring more at a wrap-around November that would actually end in November of '21. What we've told people is to start getting into all the different gyrations that could throw into one of those three scenarios gets complicated and quite frankly is really going to depend on how many of these events we get out, especially how many of these full-field events we get out.
But I think it's fair to say that looking at our schedule today that if we have any further setbacks, at a minimum we're probably looking at a hybrid season where we would play -- we would still wrap up '20, but probably players wouldn't play their way off the Tour because we would still have it as -- almost think of it as a large reshuffle. You'd finish the year, you'd reset the priority list and you'd keep going, and we would probably have the season end in November of 2021 if it's beyond that, if we get into a full wraparound.
HEATHER DALY-DONOFRIO: And as it relates to eligibility of all of our events now that we have a more firm start date and a fuller schedule, we're taking a fresh look at all of our eligibility as it relates to field size, criteria, et cetera. Whether or not there will be changes made to any of the criteria is still to be determined, but we've shared with our players that we are taking a fresh look at those eligibility statements as well as field sizes based on daylight.
Q. Just to follow up, if it ends up being a hybrid, how does that affect Q-Series and new players coming in?
MIKE WHAN: Yeah, if we get to a hybrid situation where we don't feel like we can play enough to really put people on or off, we'd probably have the same situations with Symetra and the LET.
Q. A couple of money questions for you. What it comes down to testing, what kind of an expense is that going to be for you?
MIKE WHAN: Probably close to seven figures to get through the rest of 2020.
Q. On the boost in prize money, assuming everything goes on schedule, how does that work?
MIKE WHAN: What and prize money?
Q. How does that work, where you're talking about the average prize money of $2.7, other tournaments kicking in and helping out. I'm not sure how that works, how the model is.
MIKE WHAN: We've got a few events that can't play in '20 for whatever reason. The dates we have don't work for them or we really don't have a date for where in the country you'd have to play, and in some of those cases we've kind of worked on a deal where they're going to provide some of their prize money back in being able to step out, and we're applying that prize money to other events. Is that your question?
Q. It is, yeah. But what do they get out of it?
MIKE WHAN: Nothing.
Q. Why would they do that?
MIKE WHAN: I mean, they would probably disagree. I shouldn't say nothing; that's probably not a great headline. No, in some of the cases they're realizing that, hey, we want to play, we know you want to play, we feel bad for the situation that you're facing with from a players' perspective, or we'd really like to play but we just can't take that date, Mike, I'm sorry but that date doesn't work for where we are in the country or where we are for their own board meeting shareholder stuff or their company issues. So could we provide you guys some help. That wouldn't be the same as putting on a tournament; we're going to save a lot of money that we would normally put into a tournament, but can we provide some money back to you that you could use to provide women that are going to get a lot less in 2020.
Q. Those three events in Europe are now quite near to the restart; I was just wondering if there was a longer discussion about those just about the logistics of international travel and the situation in Europe still being quite severe in terms of lockdowns. I know the president of France made an announcement yesterday. Did you have a longer chat about those three events than the rest of the schedule?
MIKE WHAN: I'd love to tell you that chats with one tournaments are longer than another, but they all seem long to me in COVID days, but what I would tell you about all three of those events is they're pretty locked together, meaning they're all being -- they're all very supportive of playing even within the restrictions that have been outlined as recently as yesterday, so that we would have options in those three events to play without fans and to still go and play. What we've decided all three of those is we're going to decide in mid to late June the final decision and how we play, if we play each of those events.
Same thing, 45 days before, we really need to make an decision on if we play them, how we play them and what are the final versions, but I think the good news is the three are thinking similarly in the fact that if we do something at one we'll probably likely be doing the same thing at all three. I think between Scotland and France they're very similar in terms of their wanting to make sure we can keep the gathering size small and have a very small footprint on the golf course.
The good news is with where we're playing all three of those, that's much more doable than if we have playing an event in Paris or London. Troon or Evian, France, is a little easier for us if we didn't have fans to control the size of the footprint out there and really stay within gather limitations of either of those regions. But like anything, we've agreed that it could be very different in 45 days, so let's wait until mid-June, re-gather -- we've built the plans, we know how to do either of the versions, but we really don't have to make a decision on either one of those until we get to mid-June.
But I think the good news for me is whether you talk about any one of those three events, they're very supportive and real interested in figuring out a way to get them done.
Q. There was a memo from Keith Pelley sent to European Tour players a couple of weeks ago that told them that tournaments might look quite different when they restarted. He mentioned a decrease in prize money. You've been able to go the other way and increase it, but he mentioned things like courtesy cars might be a thing of the past and players' lounges might look quite different. Is that something you might have to consider with the LPGA?
MIKE WHAN: Yeah, we are excited about the fact that we've been able to kind of at least keep the purse levels solid and grow on the per-event, even though the overall amount of purse money they're playing for in 2020 is certainly not what it was when they originally started the season.
Yeah, I saw Keith's note, too. Our players probably chuckled at player lounges, realizing player lounges wasn't a normal part of their life anyway, nor is courtesy cars a given on the LPGA. But I can tell you to a player, and I'm sure the same is true in Keith's world, even though I don't talk to a lot of European Tour players, I don't think that comes as a surprise to anybody. Everybody not only expects life to be different, I would tell you with my Tour players who I talk to pretty regularly, and a lot today because we had an announcement, they hope things are going to be different. I mean, they don't want to come out to an event that's going to look like COVID-19 never happened. They want us to be cautious. They want us to protect the volunteers that are part of this. They want us to protect fans if they're going to be there and people in those marketplaces.
Anybody I've talked to, in our case we do an awful lot of host housing, like on the LPGA I would say 50 percent of the time our players are in a host house versus a hotel. We've told them that host housing is not something we're going to aggressively pursue for obvious reasons in 2020, and I think it's going to be expensive to players, but they understand that's probably a better move for everybody.
So courtesy cars and our pro-am formats are probably going to change quite a bit. Those are all things that I think not only aren't a problem, I think we've all gained perspective in COVID that right now we'd like to work, and we understand that working may not feel like it felt in February or January, but we'd like to work, and we just want to make sure that work is safe, and I think every time I can get off the phone with one of my athletes and I took down at the notes that I took during the call, at some point she's said that to me, which helps kind of keep me in perspective, as well.
I would imagine Keith's reaction wasn't negative. My player reaction hasn't been negative, either, which is we know you've got to make changes, please make the changes. And I think just like Keith probably in his note is thinking, my number one job is to make sure that the LPGA continues not just to be strong in '20 but in '21, '22, '23, and if we've got to make some tough choices in '20 to make sure the brand continues to be strong well after COVID-19, then we'll all be glad we did, and I think his athletes and my athletes would endorse those decisions.
Q. Mike, I was just wondering if you had looked -- obviously you've looked at when the PGA TOUR is starting but why you decided to start later, and I was wondering if it was because so many more of your players are currently not in the U.S., if that was a factor.
MIKE WHAN: Yeah. Two answers to your question. To be perfectly honest with you, haven't really spent a lot of time trying to assess how the PGA TOUR got to their dates or didn't get to their dates. We talk an awful lot about protocols and how we're handling it and different ways, talking through consumer issues and World Ranking issues, but in terms of what Jay's ability is play June 15th versus what Mike's is, they're so completely contingent on where we're playing, who we're playing with that we really haven't spent much time on that.
But if you ask me would I be excited if the PGA TOUR got started a month before we did, I probably would because I do think we'd learn a lot from them. If the NBA starts up weeks before the LPGA starts up, I'm sure there will be some people, and I'll take my share of abuse for why were you guys so slow, but this is one where I don't mind learning from other people that might be smarter than me who might have more resources to make sure that our plan, if it could be bolstered, is bolstered. And so I realize that maybe there was a more aggressive path that we could have taken, but I wouldn't make that decision for somebody else's league or Tour, but in our world I feel like this was the right path, and like I said, if it turns out that we're a little late to the party but being late to the party enables us and our athletes to benefit from some of the learnings from others, that would be even a lucky strike extra.
Q. Back to the purses, I was wondering if you could let us know kind of how those conversations started. I think it's really amazing that tournaments that aren't being played were giving up their money, if that was like an idea from a specific company or if it was something that you thought of. How did that all kind of come about?
MIKE WHAN: Gosh, I'd like to take credit for that. I'm pretty sure I didn't think of that, but I wish --
RICKI LASKY: I can chime in a little bit here, Mike. A lot of that was relationship driven. Everybody, our titles, were advocates of playing this year, and because of the Rubik's Cube, sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn't. They wanted to be good partners with us and for us. They didn't really want the credit of here, take our money, but they really wanted to help our membership. So it was really truly relationship driven and being good partners to the LPGA.
MIKE WHAN: That's Ricki's way of saying because Ricki was talking to them, we got that money. Had she let me be a part of the conversation, we probably wouldn't have pulled it off.
Q. Mike, this is probably one that you'll refer to Heather, but I was curious about field sizes, particularly the KPMG, which is a little later in the season, and you're going to have a major championship when it's going to get dark earlier.
MIKE WHAN: Yeah, we've sort of notified the players, expect changes in field size both more and less. Places where we can go more in the middle of the summer and we have the course size to handle it, we're going to actually expand some fields, and in some cases we are going to have to go smaller.
HD, are we smaller in KPMG?
HEATHER DALY-DONOFRIO: We are. We're looking at a field size of 132, which is really pushing it. When we get to those events where we're less daylight, we are going to push it as much as we possibly can, and then when we have more daylight, we're going to be looking at fields of 156.
And again, to Ricki's point of relationships, all of our partners have been terrific, and we've gone to them about wanting to push the envelope on field size and adding players and really pushing those daylight numbers. They've been super supportive, again, wanting to give as much opportunity as possible to our members in this asterisk year. Again, kudos to our partners in helping us give those opportunities to the players, but we'll be adjusting those field sizes as we go to give as many opportunities as possible.
MIKE WHAN: Seems like we'll have a few Saturday morning cuts. The players will hate us for it, but it's the right thing to do in this asterisk year.
Q. Mike, before I forget, just a quick thank-you to you and Armstrong and HD and Ricki and Roberta and everyone for taking time to do this for us. Deeply appreciate it. I want to go back to testing for a second. What do you know right now about what might be available in July, and could it be a situation where if there still aren't enough tests to go around for the general public it's going to look bad if you guys are using a lot of them to get done what you need to get done?
MIKE WHAN: A couple things. You did pretty good there on nicknames, I'll give you a few more. So Ricki is Goose; Roberta is Duke. That should complete the list.
Yeah, so testing, what we're really hearing is that testing could be available in large supply by the end of May, so if you kind of -- if you do what we do in COVID world, which is to say, well, that sounds good but let's just build a fee weeks out on to that, and I mean by large supply, I mean tens of millions so not a couple hundred thousand where you really get to the point where testing is pretty regularly available to anybody.
And knowing that we may not always be high on the priority list, we may not be the first one on a list, we're buying ourselves a little bit of time. As I said in the very beginning, by moving out of June and into July and simply rescheduling those two events essentially filling our year, we bought ourselves a month where I don't think we're going to be -- where I think now if you talk about end of May versus middle of July, I think we're taking ourselves out of test crisis mode.
And if we're wrong, we'll have to -- like I said, like all these other things, we're going to be in a 45-day before-you-go reassessment mode, but I think right now we've bought ourselves enough time that I think we've bought a month's worth of safety and probably sanity in terms of availability.
Heather, do you have anything to add to that?
HEATHER DALY-DONOFRIO: I think that's good. All of the experts that we're talking to and the companies that we're talking to, everything indicates that mass testing will be available in time for us in July. The news changes every day. Even there are companies that came out with at-home tests just yesterday, there was more news about at-home tests being available for people through LabCorp. Everything points to the positive that the tests will be available for us.
MIKE WHAN: If it was just testing, we would probably still be comfortable sitting on this call talking about mid-June, but when you add up all the things, we didn't need to be in mid-June to still deliver the same schedule, so we bought ourselves the time, but it wasn't testing alone that drove us to July, mostly just because we could and really not upset the apple cart in terms of starts.
Q. Do you have a medical officer for the LPGA, and were you guys involved in the White House call yesterday?
MIKE WHAN: Yeah, so Dr. Bruce Thomas is our medical director who's also the medical director of the Washington Nationals, and both he and Heather were on the call with Dr. Birx yesterday.
Q. What did you learn?
MIKE WHAN: You've got to bring that to Heather.
HEATHER DALY-DONOFRIO: Yeah, those calls have been -- they're just great forums to share resources and share knowledge, and the ability to ask questions and to share -- everybody has got the same questions and everybody is looking for the same answers, so just to be able to make the contacts and bounce some ideas and ask the questions with some of the greatest minds in the medical business is just super helpful. Again, we're using the government as a resource to share ideas and our thoughts and gain contacts more than anything to set our plans in place.
Q. But you're not going to share those ideas with us?
MIKE WHAN: She's good. We told the players that we'll give them a specific rundown of what operation is going to look like when we get a little closer. One is if we shared today's plan, I'm pretty sure it's not the plan that we're going to have in two weeks because two weeks ago would have been a different plan that we learned today. When we got into facial recognition fever scan we thought we'd hit the lottery, then we get one on of these calls and realize that we were the eighth league to figure that out. So sometimes it's helpful just to know what they're already working on and you find out their suppliers. So we told the players, prepare for a few things, but as we get closer to the restart we'll actually walk you through what to expect on-site at an LPGA event in July.
HEATHER DALY-DONOFRIO: And the nice thing about those calls, we're not experts in those areas, so just to be able to talk to the experts for our own knowledge and our own baseline of knowledge is -- and then we can take that knowledge and make our plans better, and that's really what those calls are helpful for.
Q. Mike, I wanted to ask you about pro-ams. I know how important those are to kind of the bottom line and how the engine runs. What are partners saying about pro-ams, and you alluded earlier to the footprint, like how many people can be onsite. Is there any -- does that factor in, as well, in terms of whether or not you have one, and what is that number for how many people can be onsite for say, like, in Scotland or France?
MIKE WHAN: So the answer is it really does differ by title sponsor and by tournament. For some tournaments it's a lifeblood and for some tournaments it's nice to have and if we didn't have it this year it's not the end of the world. We have to understand that for each one. For some of the ones it's really important; they're already in later in the year for all kinds of reasons. Some of the ones that are still in the summer wishes they were later in the year because they'd like that ability.
But as you know, even when you play in a pro-am today, we're not doing testing of you as a pro-am participant, we're playing in a scramble, which is the anti of social gathering. We say could all six of you stand within the same six-foot circle for the entire day, so for us just talking about what social distancing can look like in a pro-am is different, and I would tell you that some events are less concerned about a pro-am and some events are completely focused on a pro-am. Some of the events that really focused on a pro-am won't be on our schedule that we couldn't schedule later.
I think it's going to be different for each event. It's kind of like the no-fan question. I think you're going to see LPGA events with no fans and no pro-ams and you're going to see LPGA events with fans and pro-ams. It's probably going to determine mostly based on what the local government is saying to us in terms of what they're comfortable with and how comfortable we are from a testing perspective to make sure if you're going to spend six hours with somebody we know everybody is healthy.
Q. The UL Crown, what happens there with the Solheim Cup next year?
MIKE WHAN: So UL Crown is going to stay on its every-two-year rotation, so we're just not going to play it in '20 and the next time we play it will be '22.
Q. Losing nine events from the schedule this year, what's the financial impact of that?
MIKE WHAN: You know, thinking about how my team will make fun of me after this call, but it's staggering. It's a staggering financial impact year. It's not -- it doesn't take us to our knees. It doesn't put us on a death watch, but I've been very proud and I've said in many interviews, we've saved more money in the last 10 years than in the 60 years before, but it's possible in 2020 we could eat up most of the savings we saved in the last 10 years in 10 months. When we're not playing and not producing TV and as a result not delivering for international partners, it hurts players, it hurts caddies, and I can promise you it hurts the LPGA.
Yeah, it's going to be a tough financial year. There's no way around it, and it's certainly not going to be any better on the Ladies European Tour or the Symetra Tour, two Tours that we obviously, I think, without giving away any secrets, that we help subsidize and will certainly subsidize more in '20 than we thought when we walked into the year.
But both our long-term visions we didn't get involved with the Symetra Tour or the LET for a year or two or for their best years, so we're in it for the long haul.
We can afford what 2020 is going to throw at us, but we'll definitely come out of this a much leaner LPGA than we were when we walked into 2020. I mean, that's what I've said from the very beginning, and Ricki and Heather, you've heard me say this a million times, we've got to do everything we can to make 2020 a great season that we can make it, but the most important thing we have to do is make sure that we're as strong in '22 as we were in '19, because if you make all these decisions just to figure out '20 and you treat sponsors and fans and media and our athletes in a way that wouldn't want them to come back in '21 and '22, you've won nothing.
I've said this to my board, I'm probably preparing to say it to my board on our next call, we're going to make some decisions that are financially negative in '20 that you could say you don't have to make that either legally or you don't have to do that for 2020 probably, but they're all made to make sure that we're super strong again come '21, '22, '23. The only way COVID really damages the LPGA long-term is if we allow it to by only focusing on 2020.
Q. Can you share a range of what that means financially, dollar amount?
MIKE WHAN: No. I mean, I can, but it's not in my best interest.
Q. A question on how a contract works. If an event was canceled this year, does the contract just automatically extend another year? Is a year lost? Is the contract null and void?
MIKE WHAN: I would say in the overwhelming majority of cases -- there are some unique contracts, whether it's with majors or R&As and KPMGs which may be different because of other third parties involved, but I would say the overwhelming majority of our contracts is if we can't play an event because of force majeure, because of a force of nature like we're dealing with, we have the right to reschedule that event to another time that works for us and the tournament and the tournament sponsor. So in most of our cases we can reschedule them as long as it works.
Now, we could probably take the legal stance that I'm sorry, this date works for us, I know it's crappy for you as a title sponsor, but by God it works for us and contractually you're in. We don't really take that stance. I guess we could. I'm sure I've got more than a few players, caddies and board members that might wonder why we don't in those cases. Like I said, there's a great example of win the battle, lose the war. What we're trying to do is if we can reschedule in a time that works for everybody, let's do; if we can't, let's just move it to next year.
Q. In that regard, let's say you had a three-year deal with somebody who was canceled this year, it bumps through just -- it stays a three-year deal, it just moves later?
MIKE WHAN: Yeah, so if I had somebody whose contract was ending this year and we couldn't reschedule in a time frame that worked for them this year, I would ask them, hey, rather than force you into something you don't want to do, would you rather just do it in '21 and we'll make that your third year, and almost everybody in this current COVID world, what you want is choice, so if we can come to somebody and say, listen, here's the situation: What's your choice. It's so much better than pulling out clause 14(c) and reading it to somebody, which is usually the end of a relationship. So I think what we typically do is say, here's what we can do. If you don't want to do it, would you rather do it this way. We've had people choose A or B, and we just have to be open to making sure we can build a schedule around whichever they choose.
Q. One of the things we're most proud of is that in most of our events now, there is an inclusion of things like a women's leadership summit or conferences about women's leadership. And as you mentioned before, those are sorts of things that are sort of the anti-social distancing. Can you speak to that, how all that's going to be held going forward?
MIKE WHAN: Yeah, I would tell you probably the toughest part of these individual conversations have been some of these what I would call ancillary events that are really key and core to both the tournament and the supplier. One of the biggest reasons that KPMG wanted to move, they weren't totally convinced we couldn't play just fine at Aronimink in late June. Maybe you could, maybe you couldn't, we probably could still make the decision, but they really wanted to have the women's conference that goes with it on Wednesday and felt uncomfortable sending out invitations now to people saying, hey, see you in Philadelphia in June. Even if people could come, they probably wouldn't even know how to schedule it now and their company probably wouldn't let them book the ticket if they could. So by moving back to October, we give ourselves the opportunity to have that.
I would say where people have had critically important conferences and we could schedule them later, we've tried to, if they were early in the year. But I will say that in 2020, as Heather said, the year of the asterisk, we'll definitely have tournaments that don't hold some of the events that are really dear to the event, and it's too bad. Whether, and even to Beth Ann's point, in some cases that's a pro-am, in some cases that's a women's leadership or empowerment conference, in some cases it's a really cool customer VIP outing built all around the event.
Losing those probably don't mean much to a fan watching on TV or maybe even some of our players won't see that, but that's one of the things I think we're most proud of in working with these partners is they're having an asterisk year, too, not just in their business but in their LPGA partnership.
I think the good news for us, and I think you know this, those things are here to stay on the LPGA. There's virtually no doubt in five or six years there will be 10 times more of those, not 10 times less, and there will be three or four in every tournament week. What started there five or six years ago isn't going to stop. I mean, 2020 might curtail it, but it won't curtail it long-term. Ricki, anything to add there?
RICKI LASKY: No, I think you hit the nail on the head, Mike. We have such great outside-the-ropes activities, and our partners understand this is an anomaly year and we may have to forego some of those events, but we're already planning for those events to come back stronger in '21 and beyond.
Q. Just want to see if you can step back for a minute. If everything goes according to plan, you end the year with $5 and a half million purse at the U.S. Women's Open, a $5 million purse at the CME Group Tour Championship, and then in five days it's Christmas. Can I get your thoughts on that?
MIKE WHAN: Yeah, you said that like that's a negative thing. I think that's actually -- I'm pretty excited about that, actually. I think if you would have told me a month ago that we could finish with $10 and a half million of purses and finish up before Christmas, I'd be giddy. Back then, it was where are we going to find a golf course, can people do it. There's so many things to make that move, to make those moves possible. Each one of these changes, quite frankly, as Ricki can tell you, it's got 50 things tied to it that had to kind of align before we got it, but yeah, I think if we can -- to your point, fingers crossed if we can play this kind of season and then wrap up in Naples as we should wrap up in Naples but do it following a U.S. Women's Open, where there's another great example of the USGA coming to me saying we want to play in December, and I said, how are you going to play a full-field event, how about if we get another golf course, and it all started kind of going like that. Yeah, I think that's pretty exciting.
There's a lot about this schedule that still gives me heartburn and should give you and would some give some of my players heartburn. There's not enough full-field events before every major; we're still trying to keep events that are already contracted in place and maybe there's 62 players where we'd want to play 162 players. But I think if we can play this season, not only will we give financial opportunity to players that desperately need it, we'll give TV opportunity to a lot of sponsors that are hoping that we can deliver what they wanted us to deliver when the season began, and most importantly I think we're going to create a Tour that's just as strong in '21 as it was in '19, and I think if we can do those three things, then COVID was just an asterisk year with a bit of a blip, but it's not going to get in the way of what our real mission is.
THE MODERATOR: All right, with that, we'll call it a day. Thank you so much, everyone. Thanks, Mike. Appreciate having all of you out there. Stay safe, everyone, and we'll see you down the road. See you soon.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports