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November 20, 2015
THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon. Great to have you here with us at the CME group Tour Championship. This is always something we do each and every year. This is the state of the Tour address, if you will. Normally, we focus heavily on the LPGA only, but this year we're going to do something just a little bit. Different because of the synergy of both tours and the importance of the Symetra Tour to the LPGA, we're going to talk LPGA and we're going to talk Symetra Tour and I've the commissioner, Mike Whan from the LPGA and the Chief Business Officer Mike Nicols, so we're calling this Mike and Mike in the afternoon, if that works for you all. We're not paying you like that.
We'll take some questions in just a little bit. We're going to go through the schedule in 2016, basically for each Tour, talk about some of the highlights in 2015 and some of the goals and the vision a that each of these gentlemen have for 2016. We will also then have a bit of news as well, something on the side that we think is pretty exciting and we want to share with you here today at the CME group Tour Championship. So with that, and I know we have handed out the release to everybody and the schedule, you've got that for both tours to kind of follow along as we go. We'll also have some slides and some overviews. I want to start with this: Because we're going to go Symetra Tour first, Mike Whan, and I would like to ask you, about the quote unquote assignment that you gave Mike Nicols just a few years back and really what your vision was for the Tour that he now runs so well for us.
MIKE WHAN: Well, if you know Mike, you know pretty quickly that you don't give Mike objectives he comes back and tells you objectives. So I don't know if I'll have this exactly right, but Mike came back to me and said we're going to play, he wrote on my board, play... more, bigger, better. And I said that sounds great. What's that mean. He says, we're going to play more tournaments. Which he knew was going to be music to my ears. He said we're going to play better venues. And we're going to play for more money.
And I said how long do I have to wait. And he said, let's build a three year plan to get the Symetra Tour to where you want to be. So more, bigger, better has been in my head since I started and, honestly, the objectives were never, I don't think we ever detailed it more than that, because I know Mike, once he had it in his head, I just had to stay out of his way. Occasionally fund him, and he had occasionally fund me, too.
But that's really how it started is he went out there, really got to know the players, got to know the sponsors, and I think a lot of that came back from player meetings, but at the end of the day we wanted to play enough to identify the 10 best players, we wanted to make sure that this felt more like LPGA venues and excitement and we wanted to make sure that over the long‑term ‑‑ and we're not there yet but we're certainly on our way‑‑ we can create a Tour that's a little bit more sustainable. That you don't have to finish in the top three to pay for the expenses for the year. And we'll be the first to commit that we're not there yet but we sure like the curve that we're on to making this a sustainable Tour to make your way on to the LPGA Tour.
THE MODERATOR: Before we get, Mike Nicols, before we get to kind of a snapshot of some of the success stories in 2015, respond to that, the thought that you've had as you've kind of gone through this navigating your way around the country to build this Tour.
MIKE NICOLS: The first thing that I realized when I went to Mike was really my first Symetra Tour event was the first one I had after Mike had given me the assignment, was I realized that the best asset that he we ultimately have as we do on the LPGA Tour is the players. On the Symetra Tour we don't have the benefit of TV we don't have the benefit of these players yet being names. That it has to be the customer experience that we provide to the, to our sponsors partners, the fans, the kids who come out. So, I realized that if we were going to grow the Tour, the players had to be on board, fortunately the players have been on board and so the success we have as much as we have got a great team behind us, the players have to buy into what we're doing. We have asked a lot of them and I think the fruits of ‑‑ they're enjoying the fruits of their labor as to what they have helped us accomplish.
THE MODERATOR: Let's take a look at some of the competitive highlights and some of the things that you're excited about from the year that's been accomplished. I know we have had some of your star graduates here this week, observing and hanging out. But run through some of these things here that everybody can take a look at.
MIKE NICOLS: Well I think that we're very proud, I know we're very proud of the 10 young ladies that we're graduating to the Tour. We have got a great story in Annie Park, she wins the NCAA championship this spring, turns professional, wins three of the 12 Symetra Tour events that she plays in to become Player of the Year in half the season essentially.
THE MODERATOR: I think she's ready.
MIKE NICOLS: Yeah, exactly. And then but the other reason that the Symetra Tour exists we always talk about identifying the next stars but there's times where LPGA players run into some sort of speed bump in their career and Vicky Hurst got bit by the injury bug, tried to play through it and all that. So we provide players like Vicky the opportunity to come back, she won two times and she will be back on the LPGA Tour. So, that's exciting. But I think the real big thing that we have seen with the Symetra Tour is we have grown the schedule as it's just become that much more competitive. The fact that we had 10 young ladies this year who won tournaments, but at the end of the day didn't make it in the top‑10, that really speaks for how competitive the Symetra Tour has become. We have two of our players who are graduates who are going to be in the Olympics. That's just based on the Rolex points they're getting on the Symetra Tour, so it's great, we love the class and I would also like to recognize one of our graduates right over there, Casey Grice. And Casey actually has‑‑
THE MODERATOR: Wait until the applause dies down now.
MIKE NICOLS: So, Casey actually has one of my favorite stories ironically as I mentioned we had 10 players who won and didn't make it, Casey actually didn't win, but finished in the top‑10, which I'm sure is something a she would rather I not have said, but it shows the level of consistence she brought week in and week out to be able to make it to the Tour.
But my favorite story about Casey in particular is really of perseverance. Last year at Q‑School she was in a playoff for the last spot to get on to the LPGA Tour and she went in a 10 hole playoff, actually the playoff went 11 holes, she was there for 10 of those holes and missed out on getting her card by a birdie anywhere along that stretch. But to have that sort of perseverance to come back and commit to the Symetra Tour really shows what kind of young lady she is. She's been a tremendous ambassador to the Tour and that's what makes this the end of the Symetra Tour season so bitter sweet is these are the types of players our top‑10 players are the ones that we rely on for the media, for hospitality, all the things that are so important to grow the Tour and to see these players go on, it's bitter sweet. But the LPGA will be better for having them.
THE MODERATOR: Apparently fully sponsored too now by that look in the back. Well done. Mike Whan, the road to the LPGA is what we talk about. Each and every week on that Tour and that's the big picture story for all the players. The road to the big Tour. It's important you talk about it a lot to have a great pipeline. Not only that though, you want players who are going to get to the next level and you and Mike talk about this a lot, having the ability to succeed at the next level. Getting there is one thing, but having the confidence to succeed is another. He brought up the Olympic aspect they're gaining a lot of experience. Can you talk about the importance of success at the next level.
MIKE WHAN: Well, the big thing that I think has changed in the last few years together with Mike and Heather who have really spear headed this is we did 90 percent of our rookie orientation and player development at the LPGA four years ago. And today we do 90 percent of that at the Symetra Tour. And I know if you're sitting there going, well, duh, but we weren't in the well duh stage four years ago. We were waiting for them to get there. We were doing media training, nutrition and fitness, hiring and firing caddies, all the stuff that young pros are trying to figure out was happening in their first six months on Tour. Which any person here in the media whose traveled with us realizes the first six months on Tour is surrounded by a lot of other stuff. So now what happens on Tour is more of a pod system and a player interaction and peer proposition where you actually have a mentor or mentors to go through. But what happens down at the Symetra Tour level is pretty special. And we have learned pretty quickly that us standing up in front of Symetra Tour players talking about things doesn't work. So bringing Annika and her team to lead some of those development things, having current and former players come back and teach them about how to manage a pro‑am, we love to teach them how to manage a pro‑am but everybody starts checking their phone. So I think what happens now at the Symetra Tour is by the time they make it, their readiness level is significantly different. And I think because our rules officials go between each one, so our course setups are now between each one the, because we're upgrading the venues that we play, the difference between coming from the Symetra Tour to the LPGA is fundamentally different than four years ago.
THE MODERATOR: No question about that. So we looked at 2015, let's look ahead to 2016 and talk about some of your goals and key focus points. A lot to look forward to, Mike.
MIKE NICOLS: Yeah, it's already been announced, but we're fortunate that Symetra Tour has signed on to be the sponsor through 2021. Which will mark a 10 year relationship with them for that whole period. And what's really significant about that, if you haven't read about it is that during that time they have committed a pool of money that we're going to use to help subsidize the purses. Because the one thing, as Mike alluded to at the beginning is we have got to find a way to increase purses and we went to Symetra and said, hey can you help us do this. So we have created a system that for every dollar a tournament races its purse, Symetra will match that for a dollar.
So we continue to see the highest total and average purses that we have in the history of the Tour. It's growing tremendously. The number of events, we the one step that I like is three years ago we had one tournament with a purse of 150 thousand dollars and that was the biggest tournament of the year. Now we have 10 tournaments that are 150 or more. So we have definitely got away to go, but the whole goal for us in doing this is to try to continue to attract the top players. When Mike and I talk about what we want the Symetra Tour to be, in two weeks there's going to be Q‑School and we're going to finish the Q‑School and at that time there's going to be 20 ladies who make it on to the LPGA Tour and there's going to be a number of ladies who don't make it and our goal is that the 20 ladies or the ladies after those 20 who don't make it, see the Symetra Tour as this is the place where I'm going to stay and play. I'm not going to go home to Europe or Asia or whatever the case might be. So, that's ultimately our goal of where we're getting to wanting to be.
Then, the other big announcement for today is that we have partnered with the Evian championship where by the top two finishers at our event in Battle Creek are going to have an all expense paid trip to play in the Evian championship next year. So, again creating more connectivity between the Symetra Tour and LPGA Tours, we're very grateful for this opportunity, it will actually play during the week of the UL International Crown, so there will be LPGA Tour players in the field of that event who may not have qualified for Evian and obviously aren't in the Crown. So we have got an exciting year ahead and the Tour continues to grow and hopefully will continue to attract top talent.
THE MODERATOR: Mike, I want you to comment on that because that's a pretty amazing opportunity for those players.
MIKE WHAN: Yeah, I mean, I'm a smart enough guy to know when you got the right people in place to stay out of the way. Mike knows we meet once a year. But I would say based on last night's award ceremony, if you're interested in the gold rush idea, it's clear that that's available the name is available. Because Terry clearly isn't coming around any time soon, so feel free to take that idea.
THE MODERATOR: Any final comments from you, Mr.Nicols?
MIKE NICOLS: No, just again, I just want to wish Casey and our other graduates the best. It's been a fun year and it's really fun to come back to the Tour Championship and look at the leaderboard and see some of the players who actually graduated from the Symetra Tour before my time. So Jennifer Song and Gerina Pillar, In‑Bee Park. A lot of players on that leaderboard right now who‑‑ Kim Kaufman, Jane Marie Green that played on our Tour. So it's exciting to come here and see they're having success.
THE MODERATOR: That's the goal. When they make that leap at LPGA International into that pool, they know that they're getting into a big pool of superstars out here. But they are having that success. So congratulations to you.
Mike Whan, any final comments for Mike? Does he have another assignment by the way before he leaves.
MIKE WHAN: Next year you need to be in the underwater selfie. We learned that term this year. So if you're a real leader, you got to get in there, baby.
MIKE NICOLS: Exactly. I look forward to being down there with you.
THE MODERATOR: Mike Nicols. Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: Mike will be available back there if anybody wants to talk to him when we're all done. We're going to focus ahead right now and talk about the LPGA. Mike, obviously you're not one to hide your enthusiasm. There's a lot to be proud of right now since 2010 when you came on board.
MIKE WHAN: It will probably shock some people in the room that I actually wrote this slide. Most of these guys, you probably think that you fixed it, you probably gave it some grammar help. Yeah, I need grammar help, but this actually came from a handwritten note I wrote on Sunday before driving down here, which is, we're all Type A overachievers, you're probably not succeeding in business if you're not.
So my wife always says to me, why do you spend five years working on something and five minutes celebrating it. Which is true, because you sort of move on to what you don't have. But when I look back, we had a goal of rebuilding the LPGA schedule, you guys can write whatever you want to write, whether or not you think we have rebuilt the schedule, but when we started in 2010 we talked about 32 to 34 events. We talked about maintaining an off season, kind of whether the players like it or not, their commissioner needs an off season, so we're going to have an off season. And then we wanted to play strategically and have some breaks along the season, have some breaks along Asia, take off big weeks where it doesn't make sense. Olympics is making 2016 a little more crowded than a typical LPGA schedule in the middle of the summer, but it's a great problem to have when you have to get condensed because you're about to play in the Olympics for the first time in a hundred years.
I talked a lot at the end of last year at the end of last year, I think it was Randall that said, what's the focus, I think it was in the hallway at Golf Channel, he said, what's the focus of the next year?
I said, we got make our big events bigger. We got to put some stability behind a couple of our Majors. We got to make sure we keep expanding the exposure that comes with that. We know ‑‑ I think everybody in this room knows that the LPGA doesn't get 34 moments that are broadly covered. We get six or seven moments.
So we got to make sure those moments we have are bigger and better. There was a lot of concern about the future of the KNC, the Kraft Nabisco, with the obvious change in sponsorship. So I'm excited about what happened with ANA, I'm excited that ANA has come on board and are really bridging us back to what that thing's all about. You're going to see a consistent purse increase over the next five years in that event.
You're going to see a consistent commitment to that, to how we build around that golf course.
And you're really going to see, starting in 2016, a consistent commitment by ANA to make the whole week bigger and better and more exciting.
At this time last year I couldn't tell you all the details about the partnership with the PGA of America, but partnered with the PGA of America, partnering with NBC and bringing KPMG together was all about making big events bigger and taking an event that had a 60 plus year history and getting it six hours of network TV, raising its purse by a million and a quarter, making sure that that event felt big from the first time we launched it. And I think anybody who was at Westchester would agree.
It's this event, making this event feel bigger and bigger and I think, I mean, you usually have this state of the Tour right after the Rolex award reception, so it's hard for me not to be kind of bursting with pride, but I love that night, I love this week, I love what Terry Duffy has helped us build down here, which is build some really, a real ribbon around the whole season and just like he does every year in the bar after the thing, he challenged me to about seven things we need to do to make this bigger and better.
And I love that, because he does it right before the off season, at least I don't have to hop on a plane and fly somewhere else.
We have been committed to better TV since we started. And when I say better TV I don't mean better than the Golf Channel, I mean we started with the Golf Channel, we wanted to be better with and for them. When I started we had 200 hours on the Golf Channel, now we got 400 plus. When I started we had 60 percent of our time was taped delayed, now it's 92 percent live. We wanted to make the commitment to make sure that our television was global, not just a regional coverage and I think everybody knows what we have got in there.
I think this next bullet point that I wrote, which is celebrate golf's global Tour. I said this in the first player meeting, actually what I said is, we're a world Tour... get over it. That's what the slide said in the player meeting.
Because I think at the time we were struggling with whether or not being a world Tour was going to be better or worse. I know a lot of you who write about us were struggling whether or not our world Tour was going to be better or worse. I could tell by some of the questions I got in my first press conference back in New York.
But the reality of it is we're on the other side of going global. Going global is like going into a tunnel, it gets dark in the beginning and every instinct in your mind says turn around, because you're reaching out, you can't see the other side, but when you come out of the other side of the tunnel you realize you should have gone into the tunnel a long time ago.
And now we have got this borderless thing going on in women's golf where young girls are coming from all over the world, they're competing here, we're putting on hometown events and letting the world watch, we're trying to create small Olympics every week.
And I hope we continue to let our members lead. At the end of the day, the thing I'm most ‑‑ the reason I really took the job, to be honest with you, is, on the selection Committee when they were looking for the commissioner, there was four players and two retired players.
When I went into my first board meeting there was seven players in the room.
And so there's not a players union. We don't have a contract. We don't talk about the five year negotiation period. The LPGA players sit on the board. The LPGA players are part of the decision of the commissioner. The LPGA players are on your communication team, on Heather's Player Advisory Group, on Vicky's Player Development Program. So, our leadership is a constant bounce back and forth with the players. I know that sounds like a great, you know, like a kind of bullet point that a commissioner would say, but I would tell you it's true.
I know who I work for and seven of those people hit a ball on weekly basis.
And then I already talked about connecting the season. And that was a big deal to us a couple years ago, to make sure that the whole season fits together. Now with the Race to the Globe that's exactly what happens.
THE MODERATOR: So you didn't know this was coming and I didn't build a slide for you or adjust one, but in the essence of fair and balanced, if these are the things you're most proud of, what's been your biggest challenge? What's the one thing that perhaps has kept you sleepless at times.
MIKE WHAN: Well, I mean, I would love to tell you it's one thing. But, I mean, I'll give you a few things. We, I don't like the back half of our season really after August with generally limited field events. I don't really want to go to full field events in Asia, that's not my preference to have 55 people kind of running around Beijing and then try to gather everybody up on Monday to go together.
But I really hope that over the time we can build some more full field events, some more domestic events to go right into the fall. I think that would be helpful both for us.
And for players, I don't want players to feel like they have to get their way into the top 75 or 80 and if they can't by August 31st, it's over.
I think I've made it pretty clear, I mean, I probably should stop doing this, because this ends up haunting me, but I made it pretty clear that I want to be on more network weekends than we're on. We have had a nice increase over the last five or six years, but patience is not a skill I was born with and so I really wish it was more than it is. And I really think that ‑‑ the reason for that isn't because I don't like Golf Channel coverage, I love Golf Channel coverage, I feel like to be a better partner for many them, we need to show or Tour off to the casual fan more often.
I'm so sick of doing radio and TV interviews where somebody says, I went to my first LPGA event in four years last week and it was unbelievable. And it's that, you know, I would like people to ‑‑ I love the unbelievable part. The, I haven't seen it in a while thing is shame on us.
So I think network TV enables us to step outside some time of just the golf vernacular and be a sports story.
And I'm excited that events like this that can and will take it to that next level ‑‑ we're even talking to a couple more than are on your schedule right now, about doing it as early as '16.
But I like the fact that we're on six or seven weekends next year.
So the schedule, the schedule keeps me awake, and the last piece I would say is our girls golf program. I'm super excited that we have gone from 5,000 girls to 50,000 girls. But I just left the foundation meeting for lunch time and I'm going back afterwards and we're having questions about, can we confidently say we're going to get to 100,000 girls a year, because I feel like the only foundation thing I've ever been involved in that actually translates to numbers ‑‑ when I look at the National Golf Foundation numbers and see 180,000 more girls under the age of 16, I'm enthused to say that, let's not get patient and comfortable at 50,000 here, let's figure out what it takes to double it.
THE MODERATOR: I'll salute you for your honesty and your vision. I'll also salute the transcriptionist. Good luck with getting all that stuff down on the transcript.
And while we move on to the next slide let's start focusing on 2016 specifically and I know.
MIKE WHAN: Do they have the 2016?
THE MODERATOR: They do have that.
MIKE WHAN: Okay.
THE MODERATOR: Here is a ‑‑ hold on. Let's see if we have got this.
MIKE WHAN: Testing your technical skills.
THE MODERATOR: Okay, so let me put it all on there.
MIKE WHAN: Is this already in their release?
THE MODERATOR: They have got copies of this information.
MIKE WHAN: All right. I made this comment a couple years ago to my team, which is, it would be nice at some year in the future if the schedule announcement wasn't so much drama. Because when I find out ‑‑ when the PGA TOUR announces their schedule, sometimes it's just an e‑mail. And it's because people know that the schedule is going to be strong and stable and there's not a whole lot of change.
And I feel like we're coming over a hill. Like for the last few years you've been walking in here, and so have I, to be talking about so much different. And I'm really excited to say that there's not a lot different. Yes, we added Ann Arbor and we're returning to China, but generally speaking our schedule is what our schedule was.
And so what's really changing is higher purses, in small increments, but playing for more total money. Having a little bit more network time. Continuing to shift from less three day events and more four day events and continue to see just a little bit better TV year after year. I hope my next five years, knock on wood, on Tour and with schedule releases are more like this. It's stability with growth as opposed to dramatic, dramatic swings. I know we had some dramatic things we need to dead to address over the last six years, but I feel like some of those, some of those pillars are in the ground. I mean, the numbers I think kind of speak for themselves. I can't help myself, I got to show you versus 2011, because my first time standing on a stage introducing a schedule was 2011. I was in the audience when we announced the 2010 schedule, but it was a much more comfortable feeling because somebody else was announcing it and if felt like it was their problem, not mine. But a week later it became my problem. But in 2011 we introduced 23 official events versus 33 now. We talked about 40 million dollars versus 63 million dollars I don't talk a lot about three day events versus four day events, but going from 17 to 31 matters to meaning everybody in the room, including every player on the Tour, thought that I was going to grow the schedule by just going global, as one player said, we're going to be nomadic, or we're going to play a lot of events, and I believe in our North American base and so we have added a lot more events in North America than we have added overseas and most of you know we could have probably had a lot more overseas events if that would have been our goal.
So, I hope that you would view this schedule as where we view it as, it's pretty nice to have a year where we renewed everybody that needed to be renewed, lost nobody, added a couple events and at the end of the day hopefully the LPGA's a little more predictable than we have been the last five or six years. We have probably been called a lot of things in six years, predictable probably wasn't one of them and so I'm hoping that we become a little bit more in the predictability stage. And I think that you're seeing the beginning of kind of how we want to build up the schedule. We like the number and now it's about having the events we have to make them a little better.
THE MODERATOR: We'll take some questions in just a few moments. Let me now look at what, you know, you never sit still, you never focus on what's been in the past, you're moving forward. So let's take a look at, if we could, at what is still needed in your mind. Now I know you've mentioned a couple of these things already through discussion here, but let's focus on some of these things that you believe might be the most important on this.
MIKE WHAN: Well, I mean you guys can look at our schedule and realize if you're No. 111 or 112 on our Money List, the season's not deep in the back half. I've said to players many times, I haven't solved that and I don't know what the time line is, but I want to continue to work on that. Consistent network, regular network exposure, I think I've beaten that. Purse growth to insure a sustainable life on Tour is, when you spend the first four or five years of your, of the team's life on this Tour, all about new events, you really, you know, it's all about adding to the schedule, not about making the schedule we have stronger. And I think in the last 12 to 18 months, we have been a lot more about the events we have. And that's why I think when you look at our schedule, you'll see a lot of small incremental purse increases. It's not about finding six events to have purse increases now, it's really about making sure the events we have are bigger and stronger. And I think we're going to help them, just like Mike's doing on the Symetra Tour, to make sure that people can continue to grow this. I want to make sure that if you're one of the ‑‑ if you're the 90th best female golfer in the world, that should be a sustainable living.
I get on the Symetra Tour that we might not be able to deliver a Tour where everybody can make money and have it be a great career. But I think if you ‑‑ I think if there's only 85 players in the world better than you, it shouldn't be, you shouldn't be taking loans out from your parents and that's something that we have got to work on.
The one thing I'll give you as kind of a heads up in the future is we are, we are looking at pathways to the LPGA in the future. We believe in the Symetra Tour. We believe in the Symetra Tour vision. We also have an age old question of, if you finish 105 on the LPGA Money List, are you better or worse than somebody who finished 4th in Q‑School? Are you better or worse than somebody who finished 10th in the Symetra Tour? And we make those decisions internally with some strategic dialog. I would like to get to the point in the not too distant future where those decisions are being made on the golf course. That's probably all I should say about that without Heather slapping me.
THE MODERATOR: We'll take some questions. Just raise your hand. I'm assuming we might have a microphone in the back. Does that schedule look about right to you, by the way?
THE MODERATOR: Okay. Good.
MIKE WHAN: I just glad that you got to go first.
Q. I'm just curious about adding the Olympics to the schedule, how the challenges you face with those two weeks being in August and the condensed schedule.
MIKE WHAN: Yeah, unfortunately for us, the challenge became three weeks. Because two weeks before the Olympics start, we're in the British, women's British Open, and nobody loves to play after that week, for obvious reasons. Players got to get back and then when people looked at that date, because I tried to sell that date to a lot of people and they said, well when's the Olympics start? It starts on Friday. The actual Olympics, I mean the men's golf doesn't start until later. So, if I play that weekend, I'm up against Olympic activity and a lot of NBC Golf Channel people are down in Rio, so a lot of people have said, I don't like the week after the British and the week before. A lot of people didn't really want to play during the men's Olympics, for obvious reasons, and I think NBC Golf Channel will be around that in a big way. And I didn't really want to play our Tour during the women's Olympics because I don't know how many LPGA players will go to the Olympics, but it will be a pretty significant number. And I felt like playing an official event while, fill in the numbers, players don't move on the official Money List, well they can play for their home country, seemed wrong. So, what we thought was going to be a two week break turned into a three week' break. And that really created this 11 or is it 11 or 12, J.P. in a row? 11 in a row run in the summertime. And, so that's not perfect. I wish I could have addressed that, but that's really became ‑‑ I would have put people in those weeks, but at the end of the day I'm never going to make a sponsor play on a week they don't want to play.
THE MODERATOR: Did you have a follow‑up?
THE MODERATOR: So let's go from golf week to Golf Digest. Ron Sirak. Congratulations on your Media Excellence Award last night.
Q. Thank you.
MIKE WHAN: Wait until the applause calms down. It's almost‑‑
Q. It's almost a standing ovation.
(They should retire the award now.)
THE MODERATOR: Retire the award.
Q. Or retire me.
MIKE WHAN: I've been on sort of the Ron Sirak Award Tour, it feels like the last year.
THE MODERATOR: Likewise.
MIKE WHAN: When I started I thought I was on the Annika Tour now I'm on the Ron Sirak Tour. I'm going to get T‑shirts.
Q. Is the conversation about more TV coverage on the weekend something that will continue into the season? Will you be looking to add network coverage for events that are already on the schedule?
MIKE WHAN: Yes. I had a conversation with a tournament yesterday about it that's not on the schedule. But we're looking at ‑‑ for either a tournament just wanting to take it up a notch ‑‑ he wants to do a follow‑up ‑‑ or who wants to take it up a notch or for tournaments that, because of other things that are going on in the season they find that maybe the coverage they, they're getting, like in this case, we moved to network just because we wanted to make sure we finished the season live. And we would have been tape delayed otherwise.
Q. It seemed the networks must be noticing that the ratings are going up. That it's improved on Golf Channel and they must realize that this is a product on the rise. Is that, are you finding that's true when you talk to them?
MIKE WHAN: I don't know. Meaning because I'm not the one talking to them, so it may not ‑‑ I would have to ask Brian or John about the specific answer. I know the interest in the LPGA is at a different level today than it was then for sure. I imagine that a lot of that is driven by that. I also think that there's, I think there's some, there's some comfort in the fact that when we're asking 10 years ago you were going to be the second tournament on network TV, you know, now when you're asking it, like when we just added UL International Crown to network TV, three of the four weeks were on network TV in that month. So it's a different animal when you know there's going to be some build‑up and there's some regularity. Then we're going to shoot in on NBC or CBS or ABC one time and then there's no other network follow‑up in the weeks before or after it. So I think that helps a lot, knowing that there's going to be some regularity.
Q. Mike, you know exactly what my question is going to be. The ANA.
MIKE WHAN: I didn't say if you had a daughter last night, did I?
Q. Continues to be the week before the Masters. Is there any way of at least moving up the coverage on Sunday so there is an earlier ending, just for your information, I missed my flight this year because I am trying to cover both the playoff and Easter Sunday traffic conspired against me. It's become an untenable situation for print reporters, so you're facing the situation where you have the legacy Major and no national print people can realistically cover it.
MIKE WHAN: Yeah, that's a fair question. If we had a charter flight that went from Palm Springs to Augusta, would you be on it.
Q. You keep promising that.
MIKE WHAN: Would you do it?
MIKE WHAN: Okay. Bottom line is, we have looked at moving it. If you move it to the week after, we're in the Palm Springs temperatures that are concerning and wind storm things that get into play. And you can talk we even talked about finishing earlier, but the reality of it is a really great Wednesday is never as good as a really bad Sunday, from a total viewership perspective. And it is a great TV week option for us. Nothing against PGA TOUR, but it tend to be at not highly participated in terms of the rankings and Golf Channel can give us just a ton of coverage around that week. So, being that we now have a sponsor who is in the airline business, I'll take a closer look at charter than I could have when I was telling you about in the past. Previously a charter would have cost me money, now I think I have a friend.
I know a guy.
Q. While that three week Olympic break is an ideal, have you been able to foresee or what do you hope that maybe the Olympics could do for the LPGA?
MIKE WHAN: Nice branding there, Randall. You're fully covered there, buddy. I've said this. What I really hope happens with the LPGA is greater audience sees women's golf than ever before and that we give them a place to go afterwards. Because in most Olympics, if you love what you see, if you love women's gymnastics, that's great. And four years from now you'll watch it again. If you like mogul ski racing you might like it, but you might get to see it one more time a year or swimming. And so a lot of Olympic sports you sort of get it, you like it, and it's gone. It's really gone.
In our case, if you like what you see in women's golf, if you're somebody who hasn't followed women's golf before and you enjoy it, we're going to be on the Canadian Women's Open the week after that and Manulife the week after that. We're going to give you applies to go, with coverage all around the world and in most cases from a TV perspective. So my hope is, it's ‑‑ my hope is that it's the network, it's the network bent of mine on steroids. I mean I'm hoping that the network thing shows us to a much more casual fan that brings you back. I'm hoping that the Olympic thing is networks times five in terms of I just didn't know. I think even the we're going to even have some media coverage and some telecasters down there that might stumble into our female athletes and be shocked with how great and how different we are. Because that's a pretty common theme for us. And then give them, give them a place to go. The next week and the week after that. Four weeks after the Olympics we'll be playing at a Major at Evian. So, I just hope we get a lift of interest that actually has, that has a venue follow‑up. A lot of, a lot of Olympic sports get a lift, but kayaking can't follow it up with an event the next week.
Q. First of all, two questions, if I may.
MIKE WHAN: I like how fast you talk Tim.
Q. A lot going on.
MIKE WHAN: You and I can talk. It's all about keeping the transcriptionist busy. I see the diet Mountain Dew, I see why.
THE MODERATOR: Coffee first, of course.
MIKE WHAN: Okay. Good.
THE MODERATOR: Safety first.
Q. China still being TBD, but on the schedule of course with what happened this year, is there any real level of concern that this could repeat itself again?
MIKE WHAN: Well, I mean I don't think anybody here doesn't have a little bit of understanding of China and we're waiting for some kind of official Chinese government words on courses and what's going to be the official government word on places, but I have zero concern that we'll play that week. I mean I can tell you the purse, the field size, how many China and LPGA players are going to be in it and LPGA players are going to be in it, but I can't announce the venue until we get a little bit of coverage and we get some of this government thing behind us. Which was supposed to be in June, then in July, then in November. So, we're just kind of waiting to make sure that that falls, that that unfolds, but contractual and that kind of stuff, nonissue.
Q. Secondly, is there hope for 2017 and beyond, New York, New England, that region? Is there hope of getting in there at all?
MIKE WHAN: New York, yes, I'll be honest with you and if we're working on something in New England, it hasn't made it to me. We might be. But I, that, a lot of times they don't bring it to me so I don't screw it up or tell you and really mess it up. Because they know I would. So, I don't know of a project over in New England but I know of a couple going on in New York.
Q. Good news on Mexico as well.
MIKE WHAN: Absolutely.
Q. Going back there next year.
MIKE WHAN: Yes.
Q. Mike, Michelle Wie has an identity and an aura with the casual golf fan that most of the players out here really don't. She's had a tough year with injuries and illness. How much is the Tour enhanced when she is contending more regularly?
MIKE WHAN: There's no doubt that she carries a big Q score. I mean we saw it in Pinehurst. When she plays there's an interest and the media follow is great. And quite frankly, the interesting thing about some of our players is that that's not an American phenomenon. Her gallery in Malaysia and Korea and Taiwan is just as impressive.
But I think that the good news for us is, and it's probably just because of the significantly greater amount of coverage for us, I would tell you that what felt like maybe the Paula and Michelle show, when I started in 2010, in terms of just huge gallery sizes, that's really expanded. I mean I see that for Lydia, I see that for Stacy, I definitely see that for Lexie. I see that for So Yeon Ryu, I mean there's we used to have a couple of stars that sort of broke out of the regular telecast I think that couple of star number is pretty significant now. And I think when Lexie is leading the ANA or Brittany is leading the ANA or Stacy's making a run, we see a lot of the same kind of lift that used to be only a few players in the past.
Q. If I may just follow‑up. Lydia Ko has emerged and done what she's done on your watch. What is her impact been and what will it be in the future, given she's only 18?
MIKE WHAN: I love you say on my watch, like I had something to do with that. So that's good. Let's write that down.
I don't know how to describe what Lydia Ko is doing. I mean you know sometimes when you're watching history and you sort of tell yourself, I'm watching history, but I don't, I don't really grasp it when I'm standing in the range talking to her. And if you play a practice round with her or pro‑am you grasp it even less. Because she doesn't seem to be caught up in it at all. In fact, I was saying to Kraig last night. I love sitting next to Lydia on the shuttle bus, because the one thing that's a guarantee is you're not talking about golf. She just keeps it all in perspective. Her round was over two hours ago and she's not talking to you about her round from two hours ago, which is good for me, because I can't really hang in that conversation.
But I think when you think about right now last night thinking on the stage Lydia and Inbee standing up there, those are two classy women. I mean they like each other and they want to beat each other. You never hear a negative comment about the other and I mean, it's just ‑‑ I don't know, everyone says, is Lydia going to bring you a real young audience in? I said I think she will bring us a really young audience, but I don't know a 50‑year‑old who wasn't impressed with watching Lydia. And when you hear her talk she's got the old soul thing going. It's really impressive. And she's really respectful of history.
So, it's funny, when I started back in the 2010 and 2011, we're all talking about Yani was rewriting the record book. And then we started talking about Stacy and Inbee rewriting the record book. And now we're talking about Lydia. So every time I think I know who the next one is and we're going to go on this 10 year run, there's another next one. And when I see what Sei Young Kim did and what Lexie did this year, I mean those two are clearly knocking on the door of entering the sort of top three thing and the Rolex arranging just keeps getting closer and closer. So, it wouldn't surprise me at all if we're talking about the, if we're talking about Lexie and Sei Young next year in an incredible 2016 record setting year they're having. It's just, the competition we had this ‑‑ we had this conversation, I had this conversation with a couple of players back at the Solheim Cup in Germany, and they all said the same thing, I mean, the competition to win on the LPGA Tour, to break through and have a win on the LPGA Tour is like it's never been. The field is so deep. As one senior player said to me, I used to feel like I walked on the Tour and there was 50 players that could win. And she said, now I walk on Tour and I look down the range and I think everybody on this range could win. And she said, it didn't feel like that 10 years ago. And it's deep and it's young. So it's an interesting time.
THE MODERATOR: And all that only makes Stacy, Inbee, and Lydia better or more competitive. Time for a couple of more questions before we move on. Now everybody's raising their hand. We're going to start with Ron. We'll take three questions. I'll go Ron, I'll go to the back of the room and then I'll go up here in the front. And that will be it.
Q. With 34 events, is it safe to say now that that prize money and more TV exposure is the highest priority, rather than adding more tournaments?
MIKE WHAN: Yes. And I would just add to that, and expanded playing opportunities. You could still stay within 34 events and have a few more events that are full field versus limited field and along that, but I mean I don't have that pipeline that's pushing limited out of the way for full field, but I would love to have that problem in a year or two.
Q. A lot of this, you're talking a lot about the television ratings and purses, I was walking with Stacy's dad the other day, and he says, how can we get people to come in person, how can I help you, local radio, whatever, to communicate how great this quality of this product is, how great this show is. You know what I mean?
MIKE WHAN: Yeah, I mean ‑‑
Q. At the gate, the people that actually come to the tournament in person.
MIKE WHAN: Yeah, the most important thing we can do is what we're think we're just starting to do now, which is build stability. I mean when you look at an event that was in Rochester a long time or Portland a long time or Toledo a long time, you don't have that question, right? And so I look at some PGA TOUR events and go, gosh that's a lot of people out there. And then let's say and then they're in the 47th playing of the, you know, fill in the blank. I'm thinking 47th playing? That's, there's some jealousy that comes out for me on that. So I think the first thing we need to do is build some stability and roots in our schedule, so that when we're delivering ourselves to a market, we're not always saying, this is our second or third year in the Naples market. We have been in the market consistently for 15, 20 years. And I think that's the most important thing we can do is that.
The second thing, obviously, is continue to build the exposure we have here. It's one of the reasons I like network too, if a more casual fan stumbles into the fact we're even in the region, as opposed to you probably have to be a Golf Channel subscriber, you got to go to a Golf Channel channel to find us and that guy we're probably getting or that guy we're probably already getting to the event. So, I know it's probably opposite, you say well we just got to do a lot more advertising exposure. I would say, from looking at our own LPGA, we don't do anymore advertising in Portland than we do in, you know, full in the blank. We have just been in Portland 43 years. And the 43 year difference is significant.
Q. If you don't talk about golf on shuttle bus rides with Lydia, what do you guys talk about?
MIKE WHAN: That's a great question. Food, I guess probably driven by me.
THE MODERATOR: Shopping.
MIKE WHAN: No, she doesn't really ‑‑ to me, she doesn't ‑‑ they look at my fashion sense they don't talk shopping with me.
But they will talk about movies they watch. I mean if she's sitting there with Danielle Kang, they're talking about Netflix and where they're going on Wednesday, where they do laundry. I find it just fun to ‑‑ to me it's relaxing sometimes to be on a shuttle bus with players that are clearly living and not just living the 69 they shot or 68 or 72. They're having fun together and it keeps it fresh.
I've said this many times, it's weird how many times we go to the Rolex awards reception and then we do an interview of these players afterwards and we say, what's your goal and I remember Yani saying, my goal is to have more fun on the golf course. And Inbee's been saying for three years, I just really want to enjoy myself out there. And Lydia would say, come on, I don't need to ‑‑ I just want to make sure I'm hitting good shots and enjoying myself. And I can't relate to that in golf because I can't enjoy myself that much in golf. But I can bring some of that into my work world, which is just try to enjoy it a little bit more along the run and don't spend all your time on the stuff you don't have, because I don't think our top players grind that much over what's not happening. That certainly bothers them and they work on it. But they don't let it drive them like their commissioner probably does.
Q. Can I ask a follow, because Lydia was on the record earlier this year saying she kind of went through that lull of four, five tournaments where she felt like she was just going through the motions and it took being paired with Jessica, I think, in Arkansas in the final round to kind of get rejuvenated. At any point have you ever seen Lydia looking like she is not having fun out here?
MIKE WHAN: I haven't. But as most of you cover us know, I'm rarely at a tournament on Friday. So I'm usually a Tuesday to Thursday guy. Most players are convinced that I don't like golf, because you're like, why do you leave when we start playing? So, no, I mean, I probably watch more of Lydia on TV than I watch Lydia up front in terms of actually playing the game. But I don't know well enough ‑‑ I'm usually working the range on Tuesday and Wednesday. And everybody's pretty fresh on Tuesday and Wednesday. I usually don't walk the range on Sunday, for obvious reasons.
THE MODERATOR: Question up here and I'm pretty confident this won't be the last time we hear from you over the next 20 minutes. Randall Mell.
Q. UL International Crown questions, Mike, just, one, what happened at rich harvest farms, where's that situation and what do you see as the up side to that event?
MIKE WHAN: Well, we're going to play in Chicago, same time, same purse, network TV on the weekends. We'll announce that week? I walked in today and said, can I tell them where we're playing UL International Crown? And they all said, don't say, don't say. But we'll announce that in the next four or five days.
Q. The up side to that event?
MIKE WHAN: Well, I mean I told you guys this when we launched the event. I mean, this is, this is a statement you can put an asterisk next to and say Mike's an idiot, but I believe this will be one of the best female golf showcases in the world. It's just going to continue to build.
I think that I love the format. I mean you guys may not, and that's okay, that's all right. I love the fact you can only play your way in as a country. There's no way to ‑‑ there's no selection Committee. We're not getting together in a room and deciding, you know, this year we're going to bring in Taipei and not China. Next year we'll bring in China and not Germany. You get in because of how you play. I think there's nothing more exciting than watching players play for country and flag anthem and paint their face and I love the fact that there's no rest of the world, there's no wild card, there's no sponsor invite. It's a true action you got to play your way in, you good shots to play for your country, and I ‑‑ the coolest thing for me is it mattered. When I was on the range at Caves Valley and Carlota said, she say, I've never shook this much on the range. She was shaking. And I said, Carlota, it's not the, it's not the U.S. Women's Open. She goes, but they play our anthem when we walk on to the first tee. And I remember talking to John afterwards and saying, I think we're on to something. I mean, they really, it mattered, it was important. They had fun. And I think long‑term it's, I think that together with Solheim will be the shining spectacle moments for probably a greater audience gets to gets to see us. I think that it's ‑‑ I think long‑term, I hope to show that to the IOC and to the IGF, too, and say this kind of team format stuff can be fun, if we find the right way to balance it in the Olympics, because there's nothing like it.
THE MODERATOR: As it grows also don't you expect that it would grow golf in the various countries that might not be strong enough right now to participate in the UL International Crown? In other words New Zealand to step up in the youth department.
MIKE WHAN: Yeah, I think the good news for all of us is the Olympics is causing that in a lot of parts of the world. I mean the desire to be in what they call podium sports and to have women's golf represent your country has created golf programs, especially for young women all around the world that didn't exist just three or four years ago and so I think the international crown, like the Olympics, would be another chance for your country to showcase itself. When we, after Chicago and we go to Korea in 2018, I mean, some of you have been to our Korea event, I mean it's, I can't imagine what the International Crown's going to feel like in Korea. But it's going to be ‑‑ it's going to be huge and I think a chance to introduce this to some other golfing countries will be a fun opportunity, too.
THE MODERATOR: All right. I'm sure you'll be available for a couple things after this, but things look great, quite promising. Thank you very much for your comments. You're never a commissioner who sits still, all they we do have you glued to that chair right now. Some exciting news that we want to announce right now. We have two extra chairs here that we'll fill up here in just a second. But this is a look ahead and it's not just a look ahead to 2016, we have already done that. We're actually going to look ahead to 2017 and announce some news right here on this stage this week that we're pretty excited about and I'm going to let you do that, commissioner.
MIKE WHAN: Hit me. Does anybody have an idea where we might be going?
THE MODERATOR: Now does anybody have an idea of where we might be going? Oh. Terrible throw.
MIKE WHAN: I will do anything for a photo in New York Times.
THE MODERATOR: Everybody pulls out the cameras now. Yes. Social media lives.
MIKE WHAN: This is a boy born and raised in Chicago, so can you Major how many of my hometown buddies are hating this photo right now.
So summer of 2017, we're going to start the united LPGA classic. The Oneida Tribe is joined with the LPGA, 17,000 tribe members in Wisconsin. We're going to play at Thornberry Creek at Oneida. We're going to showcase the official golf course of the Green Bay Packers, a/k/a, Cheeseheads. And we'll play a two million dollar purse, full field event, and it's the biggest partnership the LPGA has ever done with a tribal nation and we're excited to include Oneida Nation as part of the LPGA family. It is rare for me to sit here and talk about the 2016 schedule and introduce a 2017 event. But the good news about the Oneida Nation is there's 17,000 of them. The bad news is we were afraid it wasn't going to make it, because we're all too excited and we're starting to hear people back in Green Bay ask, is it true. So we said, we better just say it before the announcement of it is over.
So, I'm excited to include the Oneida Nation as part of the LPGA family and really excited about summer 2017. I'm going to actually play the pro‑am in a Cheesehead.
THE MODERATOR: I'm just enjoying sitting here watching you talk with that thing on your head.
Okay. I said we had ‑‑ are you going to do the leap, too? Do you think you could do that.
MIKE WHAN: I can't do the leap, but I can do the Heisman pose. The leap requires vertical.
THE MODERATOR: That's true. That's true. All right. So let's fill up these chairs I want to introduce some special guests to take part in this. Here, Randall, will you hold that. I don't need that anymore. Want to give a nice round of a place for the two folks that are here from the Green Bay area. Welcome Janice Skenandore‑Hirth from the Oneida Golf Enterprise Corporation. Thank you very much for being here. And also Josh Doxtator, the general manager from Thornberry Creek at Oneida. Josh, thank you very much for being here as well. Did you two ever think you would be sitting next to a commissioner that would wear a Cheesehead?
JANICE SKENANDORE‑HIRTH: Never.
THE MODERATOR: A piece of cheese on his head, it's very nice. I'm sorry, Janice first question to you and obviously congratulations. This is exciting for the LPGA, I know it's exciting for you, and we have been I've been trying to keep you hidden from this press room. We have got a lot of very savvy folks here and so I didn't want you walking around with logos and all the other stuff, so hopefully we have done pretty well. Who is the Oneida Nation? Help us.
JANICE SKENANDORE‑HIRTH: The Oneida Nation is a sovereign nation, like one of 581 that are in the UnitedStates, and we are very proud as commissioner Mike has said, we have over 17,000 members. I am old enough to remember on our reservation when we had no running water and we had outdoor toilets. My grandparents, my parents, were punished at historically for not, for speaking English. But today I can tell you where we are. The Oneida Tribe has definitely grown. They have grown and historically we are also very proud of our athletes from history as some of the first members of the Green Bay Packers were from the Oneida Nation.
So our Oneida Nation is 65,000 acres, it sits and resides in seven different counties and it also is on inside Green Bay. So, with the reservation boundaries again are very large. I believe they send out a fact sheet to you, and you'll be able to read a lot more about them. But believe me the Oneida Nation has a lot to offer. From the days of no, like I said, no restrooms, and even dirt roads, to today we have a conference center, we have hotels, we have of course not of course, but we do have a large casino, actually five of them, so I invite you at all times to come and join us. We have a chain of convenience stores that are there. We have a golf course that is 36 holes. We have a museum, we have true buffalos out on the reservation that are open.
We have our traditions that are still on the reservation and very proud of the fact that we do. So, I welcome all of you in 2017 in the summer to definitely come join us.
THE MODERATOR: That casino is really good for my team. Trust me, they will be there quite a bit that week. We talked a lot about the what, Mike gave the details and you gave us the background. Now help with the why. Why partner with the LPGA?
JANICE SKENANDORE‑HIRTH: Well, I can say most recently I watched the Founders film, as many others have, and as I watched those 13 women, the founders of that really bring us to where LPGA is today. The Oneida Nation is a matriarchal society, which means the women are in charge. We have elected officials every three years. Currently four of the elected officials are all women. Our chair, our advise chair, our treasurer, and also our secretary. A lot of our enterprises are run by women. It's not unusual to see that. So, to encourage that from the history of being involved with the Packers and until today, and in the future seeing that the woman is so such a strong influence in our culture. It is very important for the nation definitely to partner with somebody who has the diversity that we look for the struggles where they have come from. We have many, we have many many stories and many story tellers to share things with you in the future.
But also Josh being a PGA our general manager, has brought great even more professionalism to the tribe than what we have existing already. We have, we have a work force of about 3,500 people on the reservation, both tribal and none tribal. Very definitely something again we're very proud of from where we came from.
THE MODERATOR: You segued perfectly to Josh. Josh, let me ask you about the golf course specifically. Thornberry Creek at Oneida. What account fans expect that are going to come out there, what account players expect because I know the buzz will be out there now that this event's been announced and they will say well what's this golf course all about. Wait, it's tied to the Packers, what?
JOSH DOXTATOR: Well, yeah, it doesn't hurt to be the official golf course of the Green Bay Packers. Everybody asks does the Packers actually play out there. You'll know it when you see a golf cart only two inches off the ground, so you guys can look forward to that. But honestly, without telling too much, the property itself will allow us the opportunity to create a unique event regardless of the age or gender, and I'm confident that we will be the most sought after spot on the LPGA Tour once we come out in 2017.
THE MODERATOR: What excites you the most about this, Josh? I mean you're getting to see the best in the world up close and personal. What else? What's the a lure?
JOSH DOXTATOR: I want to see if they can beat my score there.
THE MODERATOR: I can save you some time. They will.
JOSH DOXTATOR: You know, our golf course itself, the final stretch of holes that we have out there, I can be assured or assure you that you're going to see some Major drama on those Final Four stretch of holes. So you'll be looking forward to that as well.
THE MODERATOR: We definitely are looking forward to it. Mike, let me ask you a little bit about the why and how perfect this fit seems to be for the LPGA. I know there have been a lot of folks within our walls at headquarters that are pretty excited about this. Yourself included, obviously. You put a piece of cheese on your head.
MIKE WHAN: Well, I mean, a lot of people in this room have said this to me, too, in terms of markets that really fit the LPGA. Where we can really be part of the fabric of somebody's hometown and if you spend time in Green Bay, I mean, the Packers feel like that it is a hometown owned event. And I think this is going to be one of those places where we're going to become a fabric of the Oneida Nation. I think we're going to, we're going to love the hometown experience. It's where we do well and most of you know that is where we do well. I don't know if there will be ‑‑ is there a chance for a buffalo sighting?
JANICE SKENANDORE‑HIRTH: We can take you to the‑‑
MIKE WHAN: What's the official safety maneuver, if you run into a buffalo in your pro‑am?
JANICE SKENANDORE‑HIRTH: Wear your Cheesehead is what we advise.
MIKE WHAN: Because speed is not my friend. So I'll be wanting another option.
THE MODERATOR: Well take some questions if anybody has one. We still have those microphones out there. We have got some gifts for folks that we'll be handing out as well. Let me just follow this up with this Mike. The advantage of announcing a 2017 event in 2015, and then I would like to ask Janice the same thing, because clearly this helps and I know we'll be making a couple of stops up there.
MIKE WHAN: Well, once it's out, you know, it's great when we know, but we really can't engage the community when it's still a secret. And what was clear is the community's getting excited about it. Everybody's getting excited about the rumor. And we want people to start ‑‑ we want to build it as big as we can build it, so, like anything, the more lead time we can give to actually make it a more, a better billed out and a more engaged proposition, the better. We were done, you know, we were, we had finished all the work we needed to do. We were both excited about telling people and we both wanted to get started to Josh's point, to make this one of the greatest stops on Tour.
THE MODERATOR: Janice, you've been smiling for two days since you've been here.
JANICE SKENANDORE‑HIRTH: I know. It is so much excitement and believe me, through me, I bring many people with me. Not just the living, but also my ancestors. They would be proud of this moment and the Oneida Nation wanted to make sure that we made a statement to the LPGA and others who support events like this. Not only the sports but also the integrity that a game of golf would bring to each and everyone of you. And with that said, we did, we are offering a two million dollars purse. Which is one of the higher and we hope that others will follow suit as well. It is important that's how much we value not only athletes but this event as well. And just the looking forward to bringing the excitement, the fun, the joy, the happiness, and all the things that go with an event like this.
THE MODERATOR: Well a big thank you from us. Are there any questions out here? We'll make everybody available after this. I know the release and the information has been passed out. Enjoy your gift as well. Anybody? On behalf of the LPGA, first of all Mike, thank you for all the news on 2016 and now this announcement on 2017. Josh, Janice, thank you very much for being here. I'm a Chicago guy, too, but I can't wait to get up there to Green Bay.
MIKE WHAN: It's a good way to jump off the bandwagon for the bears anyway.
THE MODERATOR: All right thank you very much. Thank you all for being here today. We appreciate it and let's have a great weekend.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports