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May 30, 2007

Carolyn Bivens

Charles Mechem

Louise Suggs


COMMISSIONER BIVENS: Good morning. It's terrific to welcome you here to the Ginn Tribute Hosted by Annika. It's especially nice to have Annika back for it. I am especially pleased to be here with some of my colleagues to make a very important announcement.
Late last year, we decided that we were going to focus on several areas. One was the LPGA Foundation. We decided the first thing we needed to do was go out and hire an executive director. Fortunately we hired one, the right one, which is Pat Browning, sitting right down here at the front. There were a number of people who helped us find Pat, one of whom is with us in the back. That's the deputy commissioner, Libba Galloway, who gets credit for that. I also, again, owe more thanks to Bobby Ginn and the Ginn organization for making it possible for us to be able to do this announcement today.
I have always enjoyed my job as commissioner, some days more than others. But this is a day that I will say of the two years is going to be -- is a highlight. You're going to know why in just a minute.
There have been a lot of people throughout the years who have supported the LPGA and its members. For 58 years, the LPGA has grown in stature and the members have entertained fans around the world with their talents, contributions and growth of the game. Last night we honored four of the founders. We have three founders here and we also have Peggy Kirk Bell, founder/charter member. We also have Carol Mann. I'd like you all to be recognized again.
Shirley Spork had to leave. Shirley Spork is one of my heroes. The reason she couldn't stay over for the press conference is that she had scheduled a cruise. Seemed like a pretty good reason to me.
In addition to the pioneers, there were Hall of Famers of the game. For those of you who didn't read, last week Peggy Kirk Bell was honored with First Lady of Golf award. Carol Mann, you know, has won a number of awards throughout her years and is one of the best supporters and one of the best ambassadors for the LPGA. It was especially important they were two of the people that we went out, when we knew we had this announcement to make, they were people we went out and tapped.
The executive directors and my predecessors at the commissioner's office are people who helped get us to where the organization was when I was handed the baton. In 1991, a couple commissioners ago, Charlie Mechem decided the LPGA needed a foundation. Fortunately Charlie was able to join us today. Our announcement has to do with the foundation, but I want Charlie to talk to you all about why he started the foundation and what his dreams, visions and hopes were for the foundation.
CHARLIE MECHEM: Thank you, Commish. It's nice to see a lot of friends here, both media and others. Any time I can spend any time with these great ladies, it makes my day brighter. I really mean that.
Before I address the subject at hand, I want to tell you something you probably know. In case you don't, yesterday was quite a day of honors for Louise Suggs. Before she was honored last night, she was honored at the Memorial tournament in Columbus. For those of you who follow the Memorial tournament, you know receiving an honor there is no small accomplishment.
Louise was warmly greeted by everybody and did herself proud as she always does. I wanted to be sure that all of you knew that as well. Louise, you're going to get a head so big, you'll have your trouble keeping your eye on the ball.
Those of you who know anything about me, for those of you who don't, perhaps you know I'm very big on giving back. Whether it's golf or business or whatever endeavor you're engaged in, I think it's critical that you recognize who got you there and that you never forget the sacrifices that were made to do that.
I think when I was commissioner, the players got sick of me saying it, but I am never going to stop saying it because too often we go flying off in our own direction, so busy and impressed with what we're doing, that we forget that we might not be doing anything if it weren't for others who worked hard along the way.
And I think probably as I've reflected on this, that's probably been the single driving force in my mind in creating the foundation. When I became commissioner, I thought it was important to create the foundation for more mundane reasons, such as having a vehicle by which people could make charitable gifts and so on, but the main purpose was to have a focus, both within the LPGA and among its supporters everywhere, that here are things that the LPGA is doing to give back. "Give back" has another aspect in addition to the one I mentioned, and that is not just honoring those who got you there, but helping those who are coming along behind you get where you are and farther.
The LPGA Foundation, as it has developed, really encompasses those goals in its four major goals, with education, junior golf, the financial assistant fund for players who have fallen on difficult times.
Now, this gift, as important as it is in and of itself, is probably at least as important for the inspiration that I hope and believe it can give to others to join in supporting the LPGA Foundation and the reasons that it exists.
I think so often when a significant gift comes to an organization, others look and say, "Wow, that's pretty impressive. That's something that I ought to think about doing, too." Not just to the foundation, but to the other elements within the foundation that are being supported.
So I think we need to thank everyone who's had a part in getting this gift to a reality. I think that as we think about this down the road, we'll look back and say, "This was probably a real critical day in the history of the foundation. This may be a tipping point really where the foundation goes from being the organization that it was yesterday into the organization that it will be tomorrow and into the future.
I guess I'm like any other old retired guy or gal. I am always flattered and honored and really just plain happy to be invited to participate in something like this and to be part of something like this. I want to close by saying that I think Commissioner Bivens, when she came into the job, decided that this was a priority. That makes me very, very happy.
To all of you, it's good to see you, it's wonderful to be here, and I hope you will all take the word out and say there are a lot of good things about the LPGA, and it's not all on the golf course. Thank you.
COMMISSIONER BIVENS: I talked to Charlie several times a week, but recently we talked last Saturday, and we talked again on Sunday. He tells you he's retired. We joke that he's definitely failed retirement (laughter).
I want to make the announcement. I know it's been a long drum roll. Like Charlie, I also believe that this is a turning point for the foundation. I want to talk for just a second. Dolores Hope is the one who has made the first and the largest contribution to the LPGA Foundation and it's for $1 million.
Many of you know that Dolores is an honorary member of the LPGA. She's directed the gift goes to the LPGA Foundation, the financial assistance fund. That is a fund, for those of you who don't know, that assists members of the LPGA and others within the golf industry who are in dire need of financial help. It can be for a variety of reasons. It could be because of serious illness, loss of income, some kind of significant hardship. It's generally when there is no other safety net available to someone.
In recognition of the donation, it seems only fitting that we're going to rename that fund. The fund will now be known as the Dolores Hope LPGA Financial Assistance Initiative. That's going to leave a lasting legacy for Dolores.
We are so grateful to Dolores for this gift, and not just for the gift which is an awful lot of money, but again, as Charlie said, for a gift that we believe will have a whole lot of other people looking at and saying maybe this is a good place for some of my money.
Dolores has been an extremely devoted friend and a supporter of the LPGA and of the 13 founders since 1950. She actually knew many of the founders prior to the actual establishment of the LPGA.
By virtue of the champions and legends of women's golf who have joined us here today to witness this ongoing commitment with Dolores, and the fact that she's been a remarkable champion, I want one of the Dolores' closest friends, and somebody who's been talking to Dolores about this for 25 years, to speak to you about Dolores and what she's meant.
Louise, you're on again.
LOUISE SUGGS: Thank you, folks. I want to tell you something, Dolores and I started on this 25, 30 years ago. She's a little bit slow, like molasses, when it comes to getting rid of her money (laughter). But, anyway, we've gone back and forth. She has done a very, very good job for the LPGA. She used to play in our tournaments. She was a pretty good golfer. She was about a four or five handicap. We played for nickels and dimes occasionally, and she took 'em - mine (laughter).
It's a great pleasure and honor to have her do this. I just hope none of us ever need the help, but if we do it's here thanks to her. All of the kids are appreciative. I don't know, I was going to make some wisecrack, but I don't think I will, I still owe her money for June. She has beaten me quite often with that.
But she's a wonderful lady and I've been talking to Linda and Donna, and I talked to Dolores about 10 days ago. She had her 98th birthday Sunday. I think it's remarkable of what she has done for us. This is really put us on the way. I hope you all will support it. Dolores, I'll see you soon.
COMMISSIONER BIVENS: Dolores has been a friend to our founders and to the LPGA for over 60 years. I really do believe that we will look back on this day as a turning point, as a very special day in the history and timeline of the LPGA. I feel especially grateful that the planets and stars all lined up so this would happen at the Ginn Tribute by Annika, and the tribute being to our founders.
I have a very special thank you to make to Scott Hip, who is sitting in the back. It's only because of Scott that we were able to get Peggy Kirk Bell and Charlie Mechem down from Columbus and have us join us. It would not have been the same celebration without all of them. Thank you all very much.

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