March 25, 2021 – New York City-based executive search firm Allegis Partners has placed Mike Whan as the eighth chief executive officer of the United States Golf Association (USGA) in Liberty Corner, NJ. Current USGA CEO Mike Davis will step down later this year. The assignment was led by Keith Meyer, global practice leader of Allegis Partners’ CEO & board practice. “When a revered and successful CEO like Mike Davis decides to take the next step in his professional journey, identifying a successor is not an easy task,” said Mr. Meyer. “In this case, Mike Whan is the perfect fit, as he is not only a proven and gifted leader, but he also has a deep passion for the game and a great deal of respect for the USGA. It has been a pleasure working with the executive committee over the past three years, helping expand the board’s composition and now assisting with the CEO succession process.”
USGA president Stu Francis oversaw the CEO search process. “Mike Whan is a proven, successful and transformative leader, not only in the golf industry but throughout his entire career,” he said. “He has shown a unique ability to understand how the environment is changing in global golf and how to quickly and thoughtfully adapt an organization to meet those changes. Importantly, Mike is already a trusted peer for so many key stakeholders in the industry, and his existing relationships will not only help the USGA but will also help advance the game,” he added. “I’ve had the pleasure of working with Mike Whan for many years and I view him as a trusted, strategic leader who has a proven track record of building collaborative partnerships,” said Mr. Davis. “I know the USGA will be in great hands, and I look forward to partnering with Mike to ensure a smooth and successful transition for the USGA.”
Mr. Whan will join the USGA later this summer after spending the last 11 years with the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) as commissioner. Under his leadership, the LPGA experienced historic growth and became a truly global business – with players, tournaments, sponsors, and fans coming from all over the world. Before the LPGA, Mr. Whan served as president and CEO at Mission-ITECH Hockey Co. He also held senior leadership positions at Taylormade-adidas Golf and Wilson Sporting Goods. He began his career at Procter & Gamble.
As CEO, Mr. Whan will be responsible for leading the association’s operations, including all golf and business functions and essential programs. He will also define the strategy and priorities that will carry the USGA forward in collaboration with the executive committee.
“As someone who grew up loving this game, I have always had huge respect for the USGA and its role in leading our sport,” said Mr. Whan. “The game has given me so much throughout my life, both personally and professionally. I know I have a lot to learn, but I’m truly excited about this role, as it gives me the opportunity to not only give back to the game, but to also work hard to leave it stronger.”
The USGA is a not-for-profit organization that celebrates, serves, and advances the game of golf. Founded in 1894, the USGA conducts many of golf’s premier professional and amateur championships, including the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open. Golf fans who engage with USGA championships, especially the U.S. Open, include 250,000 on-site spectators and millions of broadcast viewers and digital consumers.
Finding Top Talent
Allegis Partners, which is part of the Allegis Group, delivers a boutique, high-touch approach to talent management. The firm focuses on identifying diverse, top talent for human resources, board, CEO and other executive and senior management roles across industries. Allegis Partners provides a full range of related recruitment services as part of its standard search mandates. These include succession planning, talent mapping, compensation benchmarking, assessment and market intelligence. The firm also facilitates onboarding of new leaders as part of its usual search process.
LPGA Taps Spencer Stuart to Find New Commissioner
Spencer Stuart has been enlisted to find a new commissioner for the Ladies Professional Golf Association. Last month, Mike Whan announced that he would be leaving the tour this year after 11 years in the top job. He will stay with the association through the search. The LPGA board of directors is directing the process. It will be managed by the commissioner search and transition committee led by LPGA board chair Diane Gulyas. The search committee is made up of four LPGA members and three independent directors.
“The LPGA is excited to work alongside Spencer Stuart as we conduct a rigorous search for the association’s next commissioner,” said Ms. Gulyas. “Under LPGA commissioner Mike Whan’s extraordinary leadership, the LPGA’s growth and impact on the growth of women’s golf and the broader sports landscape has been remarkable. With this solid foundation of brand and financial strength, we believe the association is well-positioned to attract that next individual ready to propel the organization to even greater heights in expanding opportunities for our LPGA members.”
Mr. Meyer has 20 years of global experience developing innovative corporate governance and senior leadership solutions for Fortune 500, mid-cap, and not-for-profit organizations, as well as personally leading numerous CEO and board of director searches. He currently serves as the president of Directors Academy Inc., a national not-for-profit focused on accelerating shareholder value creation through the development and placement of the next generation of diverse directors.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media