Mark Darbon has been appointed as the new chief executive of The Royal and Ancient (R&A) UK-based golfing body.

He will succeed the long-serving Martin Slumbers who announced in January that he would be stepping down at the end of this year.

Slumbers, who replaced Peter Dawson in 2015, will oversee the upcoming 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 departing the organization.

Darbon will officially take over the St Andrews-based role in November and join The R&A from English Premiership rugby union club Northampton Saints where he has served as chief executive since 2017.

He led the club to their first Premiership title since 2014 last month and was credited with implementing a commercial strategy that enabled the team to bounce back from the pandemic to achieve record revenues in consecutive seasons.

Darbon was a former senior member of the team leading the London Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012.

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The experienced sports executive went on to serve as an expert adviser to the International Olympic Committee from 2013 to 2018.

Following London 2012, Darbon was senior vice president of Tough Mudder in New York and was involved in planning, promoting, and staging mass participation events in North America, Latin America, Europe, and Australasia.

Before joining Northampton Saints in 2017, Darbon served as CEO of Madison Sports Group, a sports events and content company which created an international series of professional track cycling events.

He also held a role at beverage company Diageo early in his career.

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.”

During his tenure, Slumbers led the merger with the Ladies’ Golf Union and its subsequent integration, the growth of both the Open Championship and Women’s British Open in commercial terms, the development of its first Playbook, had oversight of the 2019 modernization of the rules of golf, the roll-out of World Handicap System in 2020, and the Distance Insights process in 2023.

He also launched the global G4D Open tournament for disabled golfers in 2023, while in 2024 a new Africa Amateur Championship will be founded, joining the Slumbers-introduced Women’s Amateur Asia Pacific championship and the Women’s Amateur Latin America championship.

Slumbers has also served on the boards of the Official World Golf Ranking, the International Golf Federation, and the Ladies European Tour in this time.