Nicklaus Companies, the group of golf-focused businesses owned by former player Jack Nicklaus, has appointed the experienced sports industry leader Phil Cotton as its new chief executive.

Cotton is replacing John Reese, who is moving into the vice-chairman role at the company having spent over ten years as its chief exec, and will report to executive chairman Howard Milstein.

In addition to overseeing the subsidiary businesses of Nicklaus Companies, including the highly reputed Nicklaus Design golf course design firm and the Nicklaus Brands licensing and marketing partnerships division, Cotton will be responsible for all corporate relationships and new business opportunities.

He brings to the role 20 years of industry experience across the UK, Europe, and North America.

Notably, Cotton spent nearly three years as head of golf in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia at the 4sports & Entertainment sports marketing company and 11 years as business manager and senior vice president for the business interests of another former player, Ernie Els.

In an agency-side role, Cotton headed up the SAP sponsorship program for the software firm, covering golf, Formula 1, tennis, soccer, and sailing.

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He is also the founder and chief executive of sports rights company Elevate Sports and is a director of the consultancy firm 1920 Worldwide.

Milstein said: “The team has had first-hand experience working with Phil over a number of years and we are excited to be bringing him in-house to lead the business into a new era, building on the excellent foundations that John has laid.

“Phil’s breadth and depth of knowledge within the global golf industry is second to none and this, coupled with his demonstrable commitment to innovation and excellence, makes him the perfect fit to drive forward the Nicklaus business.”

Cotton added: “Jack has matched his on-course achievements with both his business and philanthropic endeavors and I am excited to have the opportunity to harness the great talent that we have within the business to continue to push the boundaries of what is possible and to ensure that the Nicklaus name remains synonymous with quality, excellence, and innovation.”