If you’re like most people in golf, you were surprised last week by the news from the LPGA. They completed their extensive search for a new Commissioner. A person with tremendous leadership acumen and a propensity for getting things done would certainly be needed to fill the tremendous void being left by Mike Whan. When her name was announced, a large majority of the golf world was left wondering, who is Mollie Marcoux Samaan?

The new Commissioner of the LPGA is a leader. A fantastic business mind and passionate motivator, she has a perfectly suited background to continue building upon the work of outgoing Commissioner, Mike Whan. How do I know? I spent the last seven years working across the street from Mollie Marcoux Samaan. In that time, I learned many things about how to lead, react and innovate. Every meeting was an opportunity to see her thoughtfulness at work. Through that extended time, you can sum up Marcoux Samaan with the simple pun of a statement, she is “a Tiger.”

To Mollie and the driven folks at Princeton University, it’s more than a mascot, it’s a way of thinking. To be a Tiger means to be/show:

A – Accountable

T – Team Oriented

I – Integrity

G – Growth Minded

E – Engaged

R – Respectful

You now begin to see with the acronym above her ability to bring a community together and enhance a culture. This is not the first time Mollie has walked into an established and successful situation. Marcoux Samaan took over a winning system at Princeton. Her predecessor held the role for nearly two decades, in which time he accumulated 214 league titles. What did Mollie do? In her first six years, she led Princeton athletics to 65 Ivy League titles (more titles than any other Athletic Director in the league during that period).

Mike Whan is leaving behind an unbelievable legacy as Commissioner of the LPGA. But don’t be surprised if Marcoux Samaan not only continues his work but builds upon it. Her record in the sports business world is quite impressive. The network she has developed doesn’t just move the needle in the golf vertical, but in all of sports. In a very short time, she has become a nationwide leader in college athletics. Let’s go back to last March. The Ivy League was the first athletic league to pause spring athletics due to the impending pandemic. Leaders make those decisions. She and her colleagues from the Ivies set the standard for safety prior to Adam Silver.

Marcoux Samaan hired her first coach for the University as she was transitioning into the position seven years ago. The first coach she selected was the Women’s Golf Coach. Yes, that’s right LPGA and golf fans. I witnessed the process since the interviews took place at the club where I was the PGA Head Golf Professional, Springdale Golf Club. This was my first impression of Mollie Marcoux Samaan.

The selection gets down to two finalists. Marcoux Samaan takes both candidates out to play. It was a very interesting final two as one was an assistant coach from a very strong Division I program in the southwest and a logical choice. The second was a head coach from a small and successful D1 program in New England. Each finalist was the essence of their current coaching situation. Mollie knew she had to observe the candidates on the course. To see them outside the board room and locker room. In her first independent coaching search, she showed the University how well-rounded of a thinker she can be.

As someone who really appreciates great leadership, watching the selection process unfold was very interesting.  How did it turn out? Well in the first four years of her career, Women’s Golf Coach Erika DeSanty won two Ivy League titles and Coach of the Year for the Ivy League. Some might say that Mollie understands golf or coaching, but my take from watching alongside is that Mollie Marcoux Samaan really understands people.

Princeton University has one of the largest Division I sports programs in the country. With 37 different programs and 34 coaches Marcoux Samaan’s athletic department is very active. Of all the people involved in the department: the administration, alumni and fans, it’s the coaches and players who adore her the most. Mollie has made a substantial impact in the financial success of the program. She has led by innovating their facilities in order to improve recruiting. That alone has played a significant role in enhancing the student athlete experience all while following the mantra “Education through Athletics.”

Her legacy is about the connection she has created and fostered with her closest constituents, the student athletes and coaches. Looking ahead, the players of the LPGA will absolutely connect with her. They will feel engaged and appreciated just as they did under Mike Whan. Their solidarity in supporting her will become their greatest strength. A characteristic that will continue the rise of their tour and the recognition of women’s professional sports.

You may not know who Mollie Marcoux Samaan is and that’s okay. Take a moment and get past your first impression. It won’t take long before she does something truly trail blazing. When that happens… enjoy the ride LPGA, because it’s going to be an absolutely awesome partnership!

Need even further convincing?

Check out this interview segment with Keith from June of 2018:

Keith Stewart

Keith Stewart is a PGA Professional and storyteller. He has built a unique marketplace perspective through two decades in the golf industry. As a professional, he has worked at many prestigious clubs on the east coast, most notably, Isleworth Country Club from 1998 to 2003, home to Tiger Woods at the time. Currently, Keith uses his talent as the host of the ProShow on ESPN radio across the New York City market. His expertise in the industry blended with a comedic pop-culture filter entertains his listeners. He's a 5-time award winning PGA Professional who brings credibility to any discussion covering the world of sports. Keith resides in Hopewell, NJ with his wife Laurie and their two kids Owen and Abbey. He's a graduate of the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA and an avid golfer.