Australian Ladies Professional Golf is mourning the loss of former executive director, Don Johnson, who passed away on Sunday at the age of 84.
Johnson served ALPG from January 1991 to May 1998 and will be remembered as a leading administrator who established the genuine footprint and brand of the organisation. Bringing a wealth of knowledge of professional golf, after serving tenure as general manager of the PGA of Australia, Johnson embraced the ALPG membership and managed the association through a pivotal time in its history.
The ALPG Tour had just entered into partnerships with the sponsor and promoter of the inaugural Daikyo Australian Ladies Masters, which would stand as the signature and lifeblood event on the ALPG Tour schedule, for many years to follow. With the advent of the Masters and soon after, in 1994, the resurrected Women’s Australian Open, the profile of the ALPG Tour and ladies professional golf gained significant momentum and consequently was in need of full time professional administration.
Johnson ensured the organisation’s legitimacy through compliance, governance and relevant partnerships. He would capitalise on the interest in the women’s game by securing additional tournament support from Daikyo as well as spreading the ALPG Tour brand via the addition of regional pro-am events. He nurtured relationships in Japan and Korea and prompted invitations to many international players who contested the Australian tournaments in their rookie year, and went on to become LPGA Tour stars.
Johnson retired in 1998 and was granted honorary membership of the ALPG in 1999.
Johnson’s successor, Warren Sevil, who held the ALPG CEO position from 1998 to 2013, said of Johnson’s passing: “The ALPG has lost someone much respected, much appreciated and much loved. Don ran the ALPG business from an office in the garage of his North Rocks home in Sydney back when the membership comprised just 30 or 40 players. He came to the LPGAA at a critical time and quickly established the professional credibility of the association. He oversaw a rebranding, to ALPG, and then set out to preach and sell the product to anyone he could corner.
“He was passionate about ‘his girls’ and fought hard to build the profile of a membership and product he truly believed in. It was a tough sell but Don was resilient and persistent. He quickly earned the support and respect of the people who mattered – the media, industry stakeholders and most importantly, the players. He built the foundation that allowed the ALPG Tour to grow and remain autonomous and sustainable. Don Johnson will be missed yet remembered by all who knew him. Personally, I am saddened and will remember him as a great mentor and a great friend whose voice will ring in my ears forever.”