It was worth the wait. Commissioner Michael Whan and the LPGA have finally released the 2012 schedule. Whan who promised more tournaments in 2012, came through with flying colors as the ladies will be playing 27 tournaments this year, up from the 23 that were played last year. Here are some of the highlights of the new schedule:
The LPGA renewed eight of the nine contracts that expired at the end of 2011. The State Farm Classic was the only tournament not renewed.
After a one-year absence, the LPGA will return to Toledo, Ohio for the Jamie Farr Toledo Classic Presented by Kroger, Owens Corning and O-I.
The ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open, an LPGA event for the first time this year, will kick off the season in February.
The Manulife Financial LPGA Classic in Waterloo, Ontario, will make its debut at the end of June.
The LPGA returns to Hawaii with the playing of the LPGA Lotte Championship Presented by J Golf. That tournament will be held on the island of Oahu in the middle of April.
The biggest surprise was the announcement of the Kingsmill Championship in Williamsburg, Va. This tournament will be played the first week of September, after a two-year absence.
An increase in total purse money from $40.4 million in 2011 to $47 million in 2012.
100 percent of Golf Channel’s weekend telecasts of the LPGA’s North American tournaments will have live weekend coverage and the percentage of overall live telecasts is projected to be at least 90 percent.
The RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup has been changed from 54 holes to 72 holes and will have a $1.5 million purse.
The LPGA also stated that the tour is showing strong gains in its fan base as well. In 2011, viewership on Golf Channel increased 29 percent across all tournaments and 38 percent for North American events versus 2010.
The Tour also announced new Japanese television rights partnerships with WOWOW. I am hoping that will result in television coverage for the Mizuno Classic.
My congratulations go out to Michael Whan, who promised results when he took over as commissioner, and has delivered.