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The R&A has appointed Mark Darbon as the governing body’s new chief executive.

Darbon has left his role as CEO of Northampton Saints – the Premiership Rugby club – to succeed Martin Slumbers after it was announced in January that he would step down.

A former senior member of the team leading the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games in 2012, Darbon will also become Secretary of the St Andrews club.

“I am thrilled and honoured 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,” he said.

“The R&A is a globally renowned organisation 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 organisations to achieve even more success in the years to come.”

The 45-year-old moved into sport event organisation in 2009 before joining Northampton Saints as CEO in 2017.

He led the club to its first Premiership title since 2014 last month and helped it to achieve record revenues in consecutive seasons after the pandemic.

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Niall Farquharson, Chairman of The R&A said: “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.

“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.”

Darbon will follow in the footsteps of Slumbers, 63, who spent nine years in the role.

Slumbers will oversee the The 152nd Open at Royal Troon, the AIG Women’s Open at St Andrews and the 43rd Curtis Cup at Sunningdale before relinquishing his role by the end of the year.


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John Turnbull A graduate of the University of Stirling, John joined the bunkered team in 2023 as a Content Producer, with a responsibility for covering all breaking news, tour news, grassroots content and much more besides. A keen golfer, he plays the majority of his golf at Falkirk Golf Club. Top of his 'bucket list' is a round of Pebble Beach... ideally in the company of Gareth Bale.

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