Votaw outlines his
plans for LPGA
GLENDALE, Calif. -- New
LPGA commissioner Ty Votaw wasted little time at his new job, announcing a plan
to beef up the tour's TV coverage and to tap into a global market.
Currently 33 of the 43 tournaments
are televised, he said.
"Our focus will be on getting
more of our tournaments on television, increasing the size of purses and expanding
internationally, with more lucrative television packages from foreign nations
such as Korea, Australia, and Sweden," Votaw said Thursday after taking the reins
from Jim Ritts.
"Presently, there are only
five or six domestic tournaments that are not on television, and we're trying
to get all of those on some sort of TV, be it national network or cable."
Votaw's goal of more international
exposure should be helped by the multinational makeup of the women's tour, which
includes such stars as Se Ri Pak of Korea, Karrie Webb of Australia
and Annika Sörenstam of Sweden.
"We're also striving to
keep all the tournament fields strong and increase prize money," Votaw said.
"We now have 11 events with at least $1 million in purses in 1999."
Votaw brings a wealth of
experience in his new role, having worked for the LPGA since 1991. He was responsible
for handling business transactions, including tournament sponsorships and television
rights negotiations as vice president of business affairs.
"Becoming commissioner is
a great honour," he said during an informal news conference at Oakmont Country
Club, site of this weekend's Valley
of the Stars Championship. "I have a great passion for the LPGA and the confidence
the LPGA board of governors has demonstrated in selecting me is very gratifying."
Ritts, who has accepted
the position of chief operating officer with Digital Entertainment Network, will
remain with the LPGA for 40 days to ensure a smooth transition to the new commissioner.
"The LPGA has experienced
great growth during my eight years with this organisation and we can do even
better in the future", said Votaw, who celebrated his 37th birthday Thursday
during the pro-am at Oakmont.
"It's a little overwhelming
for me and my family, but I have received a great reception from the players
and sponsors. We all thought Jim would stay on as commissioner for several more
Votaw noted that the LPGA's
50th anniversary is coming up in 2000.
"We need to pay homage to
the women's golfers from the trailblazing era who have helped the LPGA become
the world's most successful women's sports organisation," he said. "The reality
is that 25 years before Bobby Riggs played Margaret Court (in tennis' first "Battle
of the Sexes"), we had Babe Didrikson and Louise Suggs creating our organisation"