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New R&A boss Mark Darbon has challenges ahead

New R&A boss Mark Darbon has challenges ahead

I’ve never been particularly bothered about getting on in years. In fact, I view the aging process as a sign of continued success. Congratulations to me, I haven’t keeled over yet.

We all, of course, have to leave our youth behind at some point. Look, there it is, waving and sobbing in the rear-view mirror as you pull out of the layby you dropped it off in and accelerate away down the road towards crotchety, pained middle age and beyond. That’s quite an elaborate way of putting it, but you get the idea.

Anyway, the reason I’m waffling on about miles on the clock is that a press release arrived recently announcing the appointment of a new chief executive of the R&A, and it actually gave me something of a jolt.

The reason? Well, the new man at the helm is younger than me.

All of a sudden, my whole ‘aging doesn’t bother me’ nonchalance evaporated. I’m 48. Mark Darbon, who is the highly qualified gentleman taking over at the R&A, is a mere 45.

In my head, people like chief executives, or senior politicians for that matter, are supposed to be older than I am. Indeed, no matter how much I age, part of their job is to remain older than me. Yes, I know that’s ludicrous, but it’s the way I think.

At 45, Darbon feels too young for the world of golf administration. At 48, I now feel too bloomin’ old for the world full stop.

I’m being typically flippant, of course. Darbon comes with a mightily impressive CV and will assume command in November when Martin Slumbers leaves after nearly a decade in charge.

Darbon held key roles in the London Olympic and Paralympic Games and, most recently, was the acclaimed CEO of the Premiership rugby club, Northampton Saints.

According to our rugby scribbling brethren, the Englishman was the man the Scottish Rugby Union desperately wanted as their head honcho, but the oval ball game’s loss is the dimpled ba’ pursuit’s gain.

Darbon will come into golf at a time of ongoing tumult in the men’s professional scene and various to-ings and fro-ings in leadership. Only the other day, Seth Waugh, the main man at the PGA of America, announced that he would be stepping away.

More: Who runs pro golf? With Seth Waugh out, we look at the leaders of each of golf’s governing bodies

With Slumbers departing later this season, and Keith Pelley, the former DP World Tour chief executive, already off, the changing of the golfing guard continues.

Darbon, who will also become the secretary of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club,…


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