Martin Slumbers announced today that he will be stepping down as the R&A’s chief executive officer at the end of 2024 after nine years in office.
Having succeeded Peter Dawson in 2015, the 63-year-old Slumbers, an Englishman and former investment banker, has pushed for change in golf and also sought to guide the sport through one of the most tumultuous periods in its history.
“It has been a privilege to serve golf at the highest level,” Slumbers said. “It is a role that I have been proud to carry out on behalf of the R&A’s employees, the members of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club and all our global partners. In any career, there is a time to allow the next generation to have its turn. I am grateful to have had the honour, for nearly a decade, to have been the custodian of all that The R&A and the game of golf more broadly represents.”
Slumbers has overseen a transformation of the Open’s corporate and commercial operations, expanded the R&A’s global brief, and been instrumental in promoting the inclusivity of the sport.
On his watch, the R&A pushed initiatives for female participation and employment in the sport, launched the Women in Golf Charter, and in 2017 completed the merger with the Ladies’ Golf Union. With unification, the R&A took full control of the AIG Women’s Open, driving a rise in the prize fund from $3.25 million that first year to $9 million in 2023.
“Martin has been a great friend to the game, and to me personally … I’ll miss his passion and persistence for making the game more inclusive.” –USGA CEO Mike Whan
Slumbers has guided an R&A, based in St Andrews, Scotland, that governs the game worldwide, excluding the U.S. and Mexico, and serves some 41 million golfers in 145 countries. It administrates the men’s Open Championship, the AIG Women’s Open and numerous amateur events.
Slumbers also took an aggressive stance on the distance debate, stating in November after news that the R&A and USGA will limit ball technology: “For the good of the game, we need to address this issue.” He also told GGP last July: “I believe that doing nothing is not an option.”
Since early 2022, he has had to deal with the fallout from golf’s civil war which has pitted the traditional tours against LIV Golf. The dispute threatened to mar the R&A’s 150th Open celebrations at St Andrews in 2022, not least when the LIV-bound Cameron Smith claimed the Claret Jug.
“Martin has been a great friend to the game, and to me personally,” USGA CEO Mike Whan wrote in an email to GGP. “We first became business partners when the R&A took over the Women’s British Open, and then later as board members of the Ladies European Tour’s joint venture (when I was at the LPGA). Most recently, we worked hand-in-hand in the USGA/R&A efforts to govern the game with a consistent eye to the game’s long-term health. I’m grateful for his friendship and partnership – and I’ll miss his passion and persistence for making the game more inclusive.”
Slumbers’ farewell Open will be in July at Royal Troon, his last AIG Women’s Open in St Andrews in August, and his final significant R&A tournament in charge will be the Curtis Cup, which concludes September 1 at Sunningdale in England. His successor was not disclosed.
© 2024 Global Golf Post LLC
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