Mark Darbon named new chief exec., Golf Club of St. Andrews

The R&A has tabbed rugby club CEO Mark Darbon as its new chief executive and secretary of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews in Scotland, the governing board announced on Monday.

Darbon, CEO of the Northampton Saints, replaces Martin Slumbers, who announced on Jan. 10 that he is retiring at the end of this year.

“I am thrilled and honored to be taking up these positions with The R&A and The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews and to be moving into golf, a sport I have always loved,” Darbon said in a statement.

“The R&A is a globally renowned organization and does so much to ensure that golf prospers from grassroots through to the professional game. I am looking forward to working with a hugely talented team of staff, the club membership and such an impressive array of partner organizations to achieve even more success in the years to come.”

Darbon, 45, is a former senior member of the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games organizing committee. Last month, he helped guide the Northampton Saints to their first Premiership title since 2014.

Darbon previously worked as senior vice president of Tough Mudder and CEO of Madison Sports Group, which created an international series of professional track cycling events.

“We were greatly impressed with Mark’s knowledge and experience of the global sport industry and his ability to develop successful teams and deliver fantastic events,” R&A chairman Niall Farquharson said in a statement. “We believe he will be an excellent leader for The R&A and The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews and will play a key role in helping us to achieve our goal of ensuring a prosperous and sustainable future for golf.”

Slumbers, who served in the role for the past nine years, will oversee this month’s Open Championship, scheduled for July 18-21 at Royal Troon Golf Course in Scotland, and the AIG Women’s Open at the Old Course at St. Andrews on Aug. 22-25.

DP World Tour CEO Keith Pelley stepped down in April and accepted a job with Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment in his native Canada. On Wednesday, PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh announced that he was not renewing his contract, which expired Sunday.

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