The R&A appoints Mark Darbon as chief executive

By |  July 8, 2024 0 Comments
Photo: The R&A

Photo: The R&A

Mark Darbon has been appointed chief executive of The R&A and secretary of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews.

As chief executive and secretary of the 270-year-old clubwhich has a global membership of more than 2,400 Darbon succeeds Martin Slumbers in the role leading the governing body and the organization which runs The OpenAIG Women’s Open and invests in worldwide golf development.

“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. “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.”

A former senior member of the team leading the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games in 2012, Darbon is leaving his role as CEO of Premiership Rugby club Northampton Saints to take up the St. Andrews-based position. In June, Darbon led the Saints to their first Premiership title since 2014 and implemented a commercial strategy that allowed the rugby union club to bounce back from the pandemic and achieve record revenues in consecutive seasons.

“We were greatly impressed with Mark’s knowledge and experience of the global sports industry and his ability to develop successful teams and deliver fantastic events,” said Niall Farquharson, chairman of The R&A. “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.”

Before joining the Northampton Saints as CEO in 2017, Darbon served as CEO of Madison Sports Group, a sports events and content company which created an award-winning international series of professional track cycling events and, in doing so, brought a series of new sponsorship arrangements and media rights deals to the sport. 

Darbon is also a graduate of Worcester College, University of Oxford, where he studied geography. On top of being a keen golfer as a member of Northamptonshire County Golf Club and Saunton Golf Club, Darbon is a former Under-21 England hockey international and a Full Blue for hockey at Oxford University. He is a nonexecutive director of England Hockey and Women’s Premiership Rugby. Darbon is married with two children and plans to move his family to St Andrews when he takes up his new role.


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