As Mollie Marcoux Samaan made the drive up Interstate 4 to begin her first official day on the job at the LPGA Headquarters in Daytona Beach, Florida, she texted her predecessor. Mike Whan has guided the former Princeton athletic director during this transition into her role as the ninth commissioner of the LPGA. While Whan has continued to offer his assistance as Marcoux Samaan gets her footing, it’s her turn to lead. And this week, as she made her first commute to the office, the weight of her new job fully set in.
“I sort of took a deep breath and said, ‘All right, here we go,’” the new commissioner recalled on Thursday.
It was a collective breath for all those who have been holding theirs waiting to see how Marcoux Samaan builds on the overwhelming momentum that Whan generated for the LPGA during his 11-year tenure. The answer to that question will begin to take shape over the next 100 days.
Marcoux Samaan's unanimous appointment by the LPGA board of directors was announced in late-May. During her introduction to the media, she declared herself a super fangirl of the LPGA and recounted being in awe of Juli Inkster, who is a member of the board.
Since that announcement, she’s spent two and a half months transitioning out of her role at Princeton, relocating from New Jersey to Florida, and enrolling her three children in new schools. She’s also started getting to know the players on tour at events throughout the summer, including the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. While the new commish couldn't point to a specific story when asked about her interactions with the players, she said she came away impressed with the athletes she’s preparing to lead.
“They are quite remarkable, as you all know, and being someone who just loves athletes in every way, being able to see them do what they do so well, they're really the best in the world, that struck me right away,” said Marcoux Samaan. “These women are strong and determined and fit and the best in the world.”
As part of Marcoux Samaan’s transition to leading the best female golfers in the world, she outlined a 100-day plan for not only herself but the LPGA as a whole. She says the plan is broken into three phases, beginning with a period of listening and learning. Marcoux Samaan first mentioned this strategy during the announcement of her appointment in May.
The second phase will encompass the outlining of a strategic plan for the LPGA. She intends to incorporate the values of the nearly 72-year-old organization, which is rooted in its founding by 13 women in 1950. Marcoux Samaan says the plan will be laid out over the course of the next three months. Upon completion of the 100 days, which also happens to coincide with the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship in mid-November, Marcoux Samaan says the organization will be able to move into the third phase. This phase will see the execution of a template which will outline the LPGA’s goals moving forward.
“OK, this is where we're going to put our energy or most of our energy,” said Marcoux Samaan about how she intends to use the template. “But again, we're going to keep doing what we do because it's been pretty successful.”
Thursday, Marcoux Samaan didn’t offer up many details on the future of the LPGA other than to say she hopes to share more tour players’ stories. She also pinpointed the tour’s annual schedule as an area she has discussed in detail with Whan and where she will likely place her focus.
“It's always a challenge to continue to create the very best tour schedule,” said Marcoux Samaan, when asked about the biggest challenge she’s facing. “I think that sort of tips and fuels a lot of the ecosystem, so I think we have to just continue to put together the very best schedule that allows our women to make a great living at all levels of the LPGA, specifically.”
Less than one full week into her new role as LPGA commissioner, Marcoux Samaan is still very much immersed in the listening and learning phase of her 100-day plan. She’ll get a major education when she attends her first event as commissioner at the Solheim Cup in September. From there, she’s going to double-down on her homework. She plans to attend every LPGA Tour event remaining on the schedule for 2021, which includes nine events post-Solheim Cup and a swing through Asia.
All right. Here she goes.