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March 27, 2018

Nancy Henderson

Emily Phillips

Lizette Salas

Jane Geddes

Rancho Mirage, California

THE MODERATOR: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to the media center for the 2018 ANA Inspiration. We're really here for some exciting news this morning from the LPGA, and our friends at the Executive Women's Golf Association. Let me take a moment to introduce our panelists up here.

First, we have Nancy Henderson, President of the LPGA Foundation, Jane Geddes, Chief Executive Officer of the Executive Women's Golf Association, LPGA star, Lizette Salas, also an ambassador for the LPGA*USGA Girls Golf program, and finally, Emily Phillips, an EWGA board member, and a financial advisor with Baird.

This announcement we have this morning is one that's certainly going to have a major impact on the growth of women's golf. You don't need to hear it from me. Nancy, let me turn things over to you to share our exciting news.

NANCY HENDERSON: Thank you very much. I'm going to start by congratulations, Lizette. Great playing last week.

LIZETTE SALAS: Thank you, thanks.

NANCY HENDERSON: I know there were a lot of girls rooting for you last week, and we're all rooting for you this week.

Well, Christina mentioned historic, and this is certainly an historic moment for the LPGA. The LPGA was founded 16 years ago by 13 amazing women who were really all about creating opportunities for women professionals to pursue their dreams through the game of golf, and the LPGA has been committed to that mission for a long time. We feel like we've done a great job with our LPGA Tour, our Symetra Tour, and our LPGA certified teaching and club professional members.

Our LPGA Foundation has done a great job engaging girls in the game through our girls golf program, and young women through our scholarships that we provide.

But as we looked at the LPGA and what we were offering, we realized there was a missing piece. That amateur women in the game was an area that we currently were not really focusing on. So that's why earlier this year we launched our LPGA Women's Network. A digital platform to unite all women in the game to help more women get into the game and stay in the game, and to become connected with organizations that are key to women in the golf industry.

We felt like we had that opportunity to offer advice and inspiration for women in the game through stories for players like Lizette and others who play the game. What we realized we were missing in that women's network was the play component. There needed to be an active way for women who took up the game to be able to go to that next step and to play with other women.

That's why today we are here to continue the announcement we announced in January, that we were going to be working with the Executive Women's Golf Association on a strategic alliance, to talk about how we could partner to work together, since the missions of both organizations were to get more women into golf.

What we came up with was today the Executive Women's Golf Association will officially become part of the LPGA family. Specifically part of the LPGA Foundation, and will be rebranded as LPGA women who play. We're very excited about this alliance and this partnership.

What was key to us is we wanted to create an opportunity for all women to play. And we wanted to make sure that it was inclusive of all women, not just executive women. That E, a lot of times in the executive women, was a barrier. We wanted to play up the play in women who play, because the key to golf is that it has to be fun. And we wanted to make sure that all women of all levels were able to engage in this women's association.

So whether you're the wine and diner, whether you're the league player who wants to play every week with your friends, or whether you're that somewhat competitive golfer who wants to tee it up a couple times a year to get those competitive juices flowing, it was key to us that we were inclusive of all women.

So how is it going to work? Well, Jane Geddes is going to continue to lead the LPGA Women Who Play as our Executive Director. The EWGA team will transition over the next few months to become LPGA team members. Our LPGA team will be focused on elevating the LPGA Women Who Play, and I say "elevate," because our intention is not to change. We know what the EWGA has built over 25 years is great. And we know that our mission is to help elevate it where and when we can.

It was clear to us that the EWGA was not broken or in need of being fixed, but we knew as a partner, and a good partner, we could come in and elevate the stage and make a difference.

Speaking of partnerships, over the last few years the LPGA has been very successful in partnering. A great example of that is our KPMG Women's Championship. We partnered with the PGA of America, and that event is one our largest purses. It's on network TV on a world stage.

Another great example of that is partnering with the USGA for our LPGA Girls Golf program. And we've been, with our partnership with the USGA, engaging our LPGA Tour players like Lizette, engaging our teaching and club professional members and women like the Executive Women's Golf Association, we have been able to grow Girls Golf from 5,000 girls in 2010 to more than 80,000 girls that we'll have at the end of this year.

So right now, thanks to all of those efforts, girls under the age of 18 is the fastest growing segment in the game. In fact, the number for 100 years has been about 17% of all juniors who play have been girls. Right now that number is 33%.

So we know if we put the full effort of the LPGA and combine with the EWGA and our players and our teachers, that we can make that same difference for women in the game. As we said, our missions are aligned. Our mission is to get more women playing the game, and for us to all work together to change the face of golf.

So we are very excited about this historic moment and the opportunity to align with the Executive Women's Golf Association.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you so much, Nancy. This is some great, exciting news.

Jane, I'll move over to you now. What does this mean for the immediate future of the EWGA, and how does the future play out now for LPGA Women Who Play?

JANE GEDDES: Well, the immediate future is very, very exciting. Obviously our opportunity with the LPGA to broaden our base, to be able to offer the game to women to play for every reason, whether it is only for business or whether it's socially, or as Nance see said, to be competitive. We feel like putting the LPGA brand behind us, having access to LPGA resources, having access to the LPGA Tour, to the LPGA teaching pros, we really feel like it's going to create a fantastic opportunity for our members and for our chapters.

So that's what we feel is going to change. But the beauty of the relationship with the LPGA is that for the members, the member experience, and what they have now, will be the same. And I say that because we feel that that's very important.

As Nancy said, the EWGA is not broken. The EWGA would like to grow. We'd like to enhance the member experience. We'd like to make the chapters a better branded experience from the outside and from the inside. We need to do better programming, and we can do that if we put the LPGA resources behind us. We could probably do it without them, but we can certainly get to them much faster and much quicker behind the LPGA. So that's what's important to us.

So that's what it looks like in the near future. As Nancy said, the LPGA has had some pretty good success with partnerships. So when we looked at this opportunity, we looked at it as what will this look like in the long-term? Again, if you look at LPGA Girls Golf and the growth of women's golf, and you look at the partnership with KPMG, and now the partnership with the EWGA, when we project into the future we look and say how many people -- how many women can we get into the game? How many more members can we run through our chapters? We think the sky's the limit.

Again, putting the LPGA brand behind us, putting the LPGA resources behind that, really makes it a reality. So we're looking at this again, it's a long run. This is not something that we are going to flip the switch overnight. We are going to take our time with the LPGA and work with our chapter leaders on how to do in right. How do it right for our members. How do we want to grow?

One size is not going to fit all. We know that. That's our model now. That is not changing. So we have a lot of work to do. But, again, this is not something that we just want to change overnight and we want to do overnight. We think we have a great opportunity to look at this and say, wow, how great can we be?

For the chapters, especially now in the near term, I know people will be asking, wow, we have a new logo and a new name. When can we change? What can we do? We're all super excited about it as well.

As Nancy said, our staff will be transitioning over to the LPGA, and that will happen in the next few weeks. Then in the next few weeks and months, we'll be working with all of our chapters on transitioning the new logo, transitioning the name. Working with the chapters to create a seamless move with their websites.

So this is a team effort. It's a team effort with the LPGA. But we have 12,000 members, we have 110 chapters, and a lot of great volunteer leaders out there that are passionate about the organization. We hope that they'll continue to be passionate about the LPGA Women Who Play and work with us to really, really grow the organization to where we think it can be.

So we're really excited to be able to work with the leaders and the LPGA to make it happen.

THE MODERATOR: Lizette, we'll move over to you. As I mentioned, winner on Tour. Made the winning point at Solheim Cup for USA last year, an ambassador for the Girls Golf program, and you have your own junior golf foundation. So you have a very unique perspective on how this is all coming together.

How cool is it for you to think that female professionals and now female amateurs are going to be coming together under the same umbrella? What sort of impact do you think this will have on the future of junior golf and the next generation of the game?

LIZETTE SALAS: Well, I can speak from experience just coming out to LPGA events as a junior golfer, and that making an impact in my life and my career. Coming out here and watching Lorena Ochoa, and watching her jump in the pond with her family, that completely changed my perspective of what LPGA pro golf life is. It really encouraged me to get -- just to get my foot in the door, just to play more golf.

To now have not only junior girls, to get that start, also amateur women, it is unbelievable. I think right now women's golf is in such a great place with the KPMG, with our -- at the event, we have the conferences. We have so many businesses. Important women come together for golf. It's just so impressive to bring every aspect of business, golf, juniors, and now to bring amateur women, it's just the icing on the cake.

I think it will not only encourage more women to play, but bring families together. I know for myself, my mom is in her 60s, and all of a sudden she just started practicing a couple weeks ago.

For my foundation that I started in my hometown of Azusa, California, it has changed how the community thinks of golf. It also started with just a simple idea of let's make a family oriented environment to get these girls and boys the start that I wish I could have had as a kid. So to have this start for women in general is unbelievable.

THE MODERATOR: Emily, you also have a unique perspective. An avid sports woman, a board member for the EWGA, you're a professional financial advisor in real life, what do you expect the impact of this is going to be on your golf community, again, for this generation and the generation to come?

EMILY PHILLIPS: Great question. As a Baird associate, we recognize the importance of growth and expansion in any industry or sport. And what our company is very careful to do is how you grow in whatever your goals are. The recognition of the quality of the culture and the integrity of the LPGA being able to align with those synergies for Executive Women's Golf Association is just on point.

Recognizing that the national exposure and platform can be distilled down to the local level is really important, because the secret sauce of the Executive Women's Golf Association are the connections and the relationships that you build. The opportunities that the sport presents individuals at every level, this now gives the women who can play golf the ecosystem, the opportunity as a beginner, all the way up to whatever level they choose to aspire to.

Living in Milwaukee, we only have about six months of golf, so now increasing the ability of the LPGA events, the women's network, et cetera, it broadens our capabilities to turn this into more of a 12-month sport as well, and increase the business component and the social networking components.

So we're really excited that this partnership is coming into existence. And at the local level I know we've been talking about it a lot and we're really excited.

THE MODERATOR: We're very excited to make this news official, and excited to have LPGA Women Who Play as part of the LPGA family.

Q. We have a chapter of the EWGA here. How would this more immediately impact a local chapter on a local level as opposed to the overall national umbrella?
JANE GEDDES: Good question. So the beauty of the relationship is that nothing is going to change on the local level, in a good way. So I keep saying to our chapter leaders that it's really business as usual. The only thing that will change immediately is the name and the logo. After that, it's about working with our chapter leaders and chapters on a local level, at the grass roots level of what they do, and how can we help that chapter do things better?

It's a very chapter-specific question. As I said before, it's not a one-size-fits-all. So we have to work with our chapter leaders to make sure we understand what they need, what they want, what they feel like will be a great benefit to them.

So that's something that in the very near future, we're starting that process to work with them and really find that out.

So for the Palm Springs-Desert Cities chapter, it will be about how can we help you? What will make your member experience better via our relationship with the LPGA?

Q. Just so I get this now. So retirees can join, stay at home moms can join, anyone can join. No longer executive, right? So if there are 12,000 members now, I'm sure you have some sort of goal of what you would like to see in the next few years, given how well the Girls Golf has exploded in the short timeframe?
NANCY HENDERSON: There is a reason why Mike Whan is not on the stage, because he would be throwing out that number. I think, to your point, yes, the sky's the limit for us. The chapter model, the way it's currently structured, it takes a lot for a volunteer to raise their hand and to start a chapter.

So our goal is to evaluate that chapter process to see how we might be able to make it easier for more chapters to start up quickly. Maybe with some sort of regional model. But like Jane said, we know just enough now to be dangerous. But we do know there will be interest and there will be growth. I wouldn't be surprised if that number doubled in two or three years.

Q. If you weren't a member at a club, this would be a great organization to play a variety of places and have competition if you're not a member somewhere?
JANE GEDDES: Exactly. So there are plenty of members that are also members of country clubs. But as Emily said, the secret sauce is about the relationships. About that chance to play with people that are either your same level or, again, the opportunity to play other courses. To compete on a national level, we have two National Championships.

So it's a little different playing in your state and regional golf association tournaments or your clubs. This is an opportunity if you are competitive to play on a national level and those kinds of things.

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