New LPGA commissioner sees energy and excitement in women’s golf tour

by | Aug 21, 2021 | LPGA

Mollie Marcoux Samaan’s approach to her new position as ninth commissioner of the LPGA is simple: identify problems and then simplify.

“I love to simplify a complex organization as much as possible,” said Marcoux Samaan, now in her second week as Commissioner of the Women’s Golf Tour. “What is the mission? What are the facts? What are we trying to achieve and how do we work together to develop a strategy to achieve it? “

Marcoux Samaan, a long-time administrator in college sports, most recently seven years as Ford Family Director of Athletics at her alma mater Princeton University, is entering the world of golf and the world of professional sports for the first time.

As she fits into the jobShe believes the transition can go smoothly. Marcoux Samaan takes over from popular Mike Whan, who was a commissioner for 11 years and is now the executive director of the United States Golf Association.

“It’s really fun and exciting,” Marcoux Samaan said in an interview with The Desert Sun. “I’ve worked at all levels of sport, but I’ve never worked in professional sports. But I think athletes are athletes and people love athletes and the power of sport, regardless of the level. “

Marcoux Samaan takes over an organization that seems to have increasing attention and growth potential. The women’s golf competition at the Tokyo Summer Olympics earlier this month filled with LPGA stars, produced drama and many storylines. This week, the AIG Women’s Open, the equivalent of the men’s British Open, announced a price increase to $ 5.8 million, the largest in women’s football. The LPGA will also present many of its stars at the Solheim Cup games in September.

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“It just feels like there is tremendous momentum and positivity,” said Marcoux Samaan. “There are just a lot of LPGA fans, really die-hard fans and people who are really interested in the mission and what we do every day, and I love that.”

Marcoux Samaan’s previous administrative work in sport impressed the LPGA search committee.

“Mollie understands the power of golf to transform the lives of girls and women,” said Diane Gulyas, chairwoman of the LPGA board of directors and search committee, when announcing the hiring of Marcoux Samaan in May. “As a value-oriented leader, she is known for her skills in working together, coping with complexity and building a successful team culture. In every role she has an outstanding performance in coping with change, building lasting partnerships and recognizing – and seizing – new opportunities. “

Marcoux Samaan is no stranger to golf as he learned the game at the age of 11. At 14, she finished second at the Ithaca, NY City Women’s Championship. She later was a five-time club champion at the North Fork Country Club in Cutchogue, NY. Despite being a good recreational gamer, Marcoux Samaan admits that there is a lot she needs to learn about managing professional gaming and the entire LPGA.

“People in the golf world, a lot of people know each other and people really care about (the LPGA),” she said. “And that’s why they want to share their thoughts with you, and it’s been really positive so far. There was a lot to learn, it’s only (two weeks), but it’s really fun and I’m really excited. “

Takeover at peak times

Marcoux Samaan moved to Florida with her family, including three children, for the first few weeks on the job. The AIG Women’s Open, the last of the five major LPGA championships, will be held in Carnoustie, Scotland this week, making Marcoux Samaan’s first two weeks, to say the least, hectic.

But the tour also faces issues, including how to build on the dynamics of events like the Olympics and how to improve the tour’s television exposure, which is often due to too many TV windows at night or early morning due to events in Overseas or too many tape recordings being criticized. delayed shipments.

“In terms of dynamics, as much as we can tell the stories of these remarkable athletes and women, and as much as we can keep them in people’s minds, that’s the trick,” said Marcoux Samaan. “I think there are a lot of ways to do that. There is so much technology and media out there these days. There are pretty remarkable stories. So we just have to set priorities and focus on feeding the athletes and the women what we do. “

Marcoux Samaan and her staff also have other issues to tackle, such as All Nippon Airway’s final year of sponsoring ANA Inspiration, the LPGA’s first major championship of each season at Mission Hills Country Club at Rancho Mirage. The ANA inspiration continues to conflict with the Augusta National Women’s Amateur Tournament, an event that drew a lot of national media coverage the same week as the LPGA’s first major of the year.

These issues can be addressed if Marcoux Samaan learns about her job and how different or similar it is to her previous job in sports administration.

Mollie Marcoux Same

“The power of sport is real, it creates a kind of community and changes people’s lives,” she said. “This really feels similar, and it feels like it’s the next level of that.

“And this job also focuses on working with broad-based programs and working with amateurs and working with the USGA and LPGA Girls Golf, the great job the (LPGA Teaching and Club Professional Division) is doing. So it hits all aspects of the sports landscape and I think the LPGA Tour is the highlight of it, so to speak. And inspires the rest. “

Marcoux Samaan knows she is stepping into the role of Whan, who was popular with gamers and worked hard to cement tour events, particularly the five major championships. But Marcoux Samaan has no intention of sitting back and riding on Whan’s success.

Mike Whan resigned as LPGA commissioner earlier this year and is now the executive director of the United States Golf Association.

“It’s a really fun and inspiring organization, and the work that people have been doing for many, many years is also quite a unique aspect,” she said. “I’m looking forward to being able to build on who we are and to keep improving in all areas, that’s all you can really ask for. You either get better or you get worse. I hope we get better at everything we do. “

Larry Bohannan is the golf writer for The Desert Sun. He can be reached at [email protected] or (760) 778-4633. Follow him on Facebook or on Twitter at @larry_Bohannan. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Desert Sun.