Martin Slumbers, CEO of The R&A and Secretary of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, is to step down by the end of 2024 after what will be nine years in the role.
Mr Slumbers, 63, brought his extensive global business experience and a passion for golf to the organisation. He has led The R&A as the global governing body of golf around the world (outside the US and Mexico) and as Secretary of the iconic golf club, which dates from 1754, he has supported its committees in serving its international membership.
He will oversee The 152nd Open at Royal Troon, the return of the AIG Women’s Open to St Andrews and the 43rd Curtis Cup match at Sunningdale before relinquishing his role by the end of the year.
Niall Farquharson, Chairman of The R&A said, “In Martin, we have been fortunate to have a CEO who has steered the organisation through a period of growth and enhanced the profile and reputation of our sport to make it more accessible, appealing and inclusive. Through his stature and influence in the world of golf and sport more widely and in growing the proceeds of The Open to invest back into the game, he has been true to The R&A’s purpose of golf thriving 50 years from now and has shown transformational leadership. He speaks often of reflecting history in a modern way and that will be his legacy to The R&A and to the Club.”
Martin Slumbers said, “It has been a privilege to serve golf at the highest level. 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.“
During his tenure, Mr Slumbers has led a modernisation of The R&A’s activities, which included the merger with the Ladies’ Golf Union and its subsequent integration to enable The R&A to represent golf for men, women, boys and girls at the elite level.
In 2018, as part of his strategic approach to The R&A’s activities, its first Playbook was developed, explaining the purpose of the modern R&A: ‘To make golf open, accessible and inclusive and ensure it is thriving 50 years from now’. This level of clarity has led The R&A to double its financial commitment to golf, with greater emphasis on women and girls; establish a strategic business-driven approach to golf development; and proactively seek to improve the perception of golf as good for you, good for society and good for the environment.
He had oversight of the 2019 modernisation of the Rules of Golf, the roll-out of the World Handicap System in 2020 and the Distance Insights process, the outcome of which was announced in December 2023. He has served on the boards of the Official World Golf Ranking, the International Golf Federation and the LET.
A paradigm shift in the approach to the commercial affairs of The R&A, primarily at The Open, and the level of expertise in the executive team has enabled The R&A to substantially increase its investment into amateur golf around the world and, with partners, has enabled the AIG Women’s Open to grow into a world class championship.
In 2023, Mr Slumbers delivered a four-year project to create the ground-breaking new golf facility, Golf It!, in Glasgow. This family-centred facility based in the community creates an opportunity for more people to enjoy the unbound joy of golf and for members of the local community to gain work, volunteering and training opportunities. 2023 also saw the launch of the G4D Open for the world’s most talented golfers with disabilities and in 2024 a new Africa Amateur Championship will join elite amateur events in Asia-Pacific and Latin America. These include the Women’s Amateur Asia Pacific championship and the Women’s Amateur Latin America championship, both introduced by Mr Slumbers.
An executive search firm has been appointed to assist in the search for his successor.