Princeton athletic director hired as LPGA commissioner

Mollie Marcoux Samaan is the new commissioner of the LPGA Tour

The LPGA Tour chose Princeton athletic director Mollie Marcoux Samaan as its commissioner Tuesday, the second woman to lead the tour since its formation in 1950.

Marcoux Samaan succeeds Mike Whan, who announced in January he was resigning and then took over as CEO of the U.S. Golf Association.

She inherits a tour that made it through the COVID-19 pandemic and emerged with a 34-event schedule with record prize money approaching $80 million.

The LPGA said she would spend the coming months transitioning from Princeton to the LPGA.

“The LPGA Commissioner role is one of the best jobs in sports today and the opportunity of a lifetime,” she said in a statement. “I’m passionate about the game of golf and have been an LPGA fan since I was a little girl. I appreciate the LPGA’s history and the tenacity of its 13 founders. I’m truly inspired by our tour players and teaching professionals. I’m excited to dive into the LPGA initiatives to impact women and girls in the game at every age and ability.

“My mission and the LPGA’s mission are fully aligned: providing women and girls the opportunity to achieve their dreams through golf.”

The first woman to lead the LPGA was Carolyn Bivens, hired in 2005 with a bullish marketing plan to promote the players. But she alienated sponsors and media at a time when the tour was struggling to get through the recession. She was ousted in 2009 when the LPGA’s schedule had 24 tournaments,10 of them held outside the U.S.

Marcoux Samaan is the ninth commissioner of the LPGA Tour.

“Mollie understands the power of golf to change the lives of girls and women,” said Diane Gulyas, chair of the LPGA board who led the search committee. “In every role, she’s had an outstanding record of performance in navigating change, forging lasting partnerships and seeing — and seizing — new opportunities.

Marcoux Samaan was a two-sport athlete at Princeton in soccer and hockey — she was named to first team All-Ivy League in hockey all four years — though her passion for golf runs deep.

She is a five-time club champion at North Fork Country Club in Cutchogue, New York, and her senior thesis for her history degree at Princeton in 1991 was titled, “The Social Construction of Sport and Gender: A History of Women’s Golf from 1895 to 1955.”

Marcoux Samaan spent 19 years with Chelsea Piers Management, which owns and operates amateur sports complexes in New York and Connecticut. She returned to Princeton in 2014 as its athletic director, during which the Tigers won a league-leading 65 Ivy League titles.

“We were impressed by her track record working with athletes, with her ability to forge new and innovative partnerships; and with her personal passion, authenticity and proven persistence for excellence,” said Juli Inkster, a Hall of Famer who served on the search committee.

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