Golf news has not slowed down 10 days into 2024. On Wednesday morning, the R&A announced its CEO, Martin Slumbers, will be stepping down at the end of the year.
He has held this position for the last nine years. Slumbers succeeded Peter Dawson in 2015.
The R&A already has a recruitment team appointed to find a new chief executive, per Ewan Murray of the Guardian.
Sources insisted he always wanted to stay five to 10 years in this position. However, the Englishman reportedly caught everyone off guard by this decision, without notifying anyone ahead of time.
Martin Slumbers is to step down as CEO of The R&A and Secretary of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews by the end of 2024.
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… pic.twitter.com/8v4pKEk2bj
— The R&A (@RandA) January 10, 2024
This news comes as a shock considering the professional golf landscape, as the governing bodies of golf are still trying to pave the way towards a successful future.
“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,” Slumbers said in the R&A press release.
“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.”
In 2023, Slumbers was at the forefront of a number of news stories involving the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) and Yasir al-Rumayyan, the governor of the PIF. They played a round together this past fall in the Dunhill Links Championship. Slumbers also met with al-Rumayyan during the week of the Open.
The CEO made some interesting claims about LIV golfers being being let into The Open field despite the OWGR refusing to grant them points.
He later refused to rule out commercial partnerships between the R&A and Saudis that same week.
Both the men’s and women’s Open saw impressive commercial growth during his tenure. Slumbers helped modernize the rules of golf in 2019 to make golf more accessible and inclusive.
The 63-year-old will still oversee the 152nd Open Championship at Royal Troon, the LPGA’s return to St. Andrews for the AIG Women’s Open and the 43rd Curtis Cup match at Sunningdale before he steps down.
Savannah Leigh Richardson is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. For more golf coverage, be sure to follow us @_PlayingThrough on all major social platforms. You can also follow her on Twitter @SportsGirlSL and Instagram @savannah_leigh_sports.