RCGA hires Steve Carroll,former Exec-Director of CPGA, to ramp up membership expansion

In a bit of a surprise move, the RCGA announced it was hiring Steve Carroll, who just resigned as executive director of the CPGA and was thought to perhaps be moving out of the Canadian market. In its news release, it looks like RCGA executive director Scott Simmons is going all out to support his concept of expanding the RCGA’s membership base beyond simply private club members.

Here’s the spin from the RCGA’s news release:

Carroll most recently served as Executive Director of the Canadian PGA, finishing his 22-year tenure with the CPGA on October 31, 2009.  His deep roots in the Canadian golf industry, stellar record of success with the Canadian PGA and extensive contact base across provincial and national golf administration circles made him a perfect fit for the RCGAs new role aimed at growing its membership base and enhancing the RCGAs relationship with its customers and stakeholders across the country.

Here’s a description of what Carroll will be doing:

As Director of Membership and Business Development for Ontario and Atlantic Canada, Carroll will be responsible for the growth of membership programs and relationship management objectives.  A key member of the RCGAs Membership Team led by newly appointed Chief Operating Officer Peter Beresford, Carroll will assist with the development and execution of Golf Canada branded membership programs. In addition, Carroll will recruit, train and manage Golf Canada Ambassador volunteers and will be counted on to help increase the profile and awareness of Team Canada in Ontario and Eastern Canada.

This links in with the hiring of former fast food exec Peter Beresford, whose appointment was announced last month. Check out the similar language:

This is an exciting time for the RCGA.  Under Scotts leadership, the organization has a strategic plan in place that has made growing its Membership base and Corporate Brand a priority, said Beresford.  Im excited to be involved and take a leadership role in helping the organization to reach its goals.

Simmons has been talking about growing the membership base since he took the position in 2007. He spent most of a year reorganizing the structure of the RCGA, but had not apparently made a lot of movement on the membership side. I’d suspect a lot of potential revenue for the RCGA is linked to this, especially since the Canadian Open is no longer a cash cow that it once was.

We’ll see what sort of headway Simmons/Carroll/Beresford make on this. This is one of those all-in gambles — if they can’t make it work, if they can’t interest more Canadians in becoming part of the operation, I wonder whether any of them will last in their current roles.

They need to convince people there is a reason to join the RCGA as a member — most private club members whose dues are paid through their membership probably aren’t active and don’t know they are part of the blue blazer group. Like many private clubs, there is the impression that the RCGA is outdated, outmoded, full of stuffy old school golf types who haven’t set foot on a local muni in decades — if ever. That’s not surprising — considering the exisiting membership is almost completely private club types.

This will be interesting to see how it develops. Can the RCGA reimagine itself? Can it change and convince people that their perceptions are wrong?

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

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