The R&A have announced that Peter Dawson, their CEO for 15 years, will retire in September of next year. His post is to be advertised as early as next week, with expressions of interest to be sent to TheR&A@SpencerStuart.com
So much has happened on Dawson’s watch, with pride of place going to his delivery of one magnificent Open championship after another. True, the success of an Open depends largely on the quality of the winner but Dawson’s interest and attention to detail is never less than a significant factor.
Though plenty among the golfing fraternity were initially of two minds about golf’s return to the Olympics, Dawson, whose position as President of the International Golf Federation has now been extended to 2016, was enthusiastic from the start. As much as anyone, he could see how it would accelerate the spread of the game out East.
It is largely down to Dawson’s influence on the governance wing of the organisation that the R&A is now working with 152 affiliated organisations from the amateur and professional game in as many as 136 countries.
Anchored putting may have been banned on his watch (as from 2016) but women, on the other hand, have come to be seen in an altogether more kindly light.
Though Dawson prefers to applaud the various R&A committees rather than accept personal plaudits, there is no question that he has done more than anyone to improve the woman golfer’s lot.
In 2005, when the then 15-year-old Michele Wie was showing flashes of being able to keep up with the men, he paved the way for her and others in her league to be able to enter the Open championship.
In 2007 and 2013, he contributed to the successful staging of two Ricoh Women’s British Opens over the Old Course and ensured that competitors had the best of welcomes at R&A headquarters. They were given the run of the HQ on both occasions, with the same applying at the 2008 Curtis Cup.
Only last month, he was able to announce that the various committees will be recommending to the membership that they should vote to accept women members.
“Peter Dawson has been magnificent in his post,” said Laura Davies when she heard the news that he would be stepping down. “Since he came into power we’ve been playing much the same Open rota as the men – and that’s made all the difference to how we see ourselves and how we are perceived.”
The only jarring note with regard to the R&A’s announcement was the timing of its delivery – bang in the middle of the media day for the Ricoh British Women’s Open.
That was not typical of the Dawson era.