Search on for RCGA chief

IAN HUTCHINSON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:46 AM ET

Rick Desrochers could have celebrated his 30th year with the Royal Canadian Golf Association by accepting what is arguably the most powerful position in Canadian golf.

Desrochers, who has served in several capacities both as a volunteer and a paid employee, elected to not accept the position of RCGA executive director, but did take the job on an interim basis until a replacement for the departed Stephen Ross is found.

"At this stage of my career, I'm happy to continue here with what I'm doing," said Desrochers, 61, who is also still handling his regular duties as chief operating officer.

"I'm more comfortable at this stage of my career at being the No. 2 or No. 3 person in the food chain," added Desrochers, who is involved in the search, along with the headhunting firm, Korn\ Ferry International.

There are many who believe Desrochers is a wise man for staying out of the line of fire, for there is a tsunami coming at whoever takes the job, beginning with the touchy subject of the RCGA's inability to find a title sponsor for the Canadian Open. The first wave of interviews is expected to take place in the next week or so.

"There is no specific timeline, other than what logic dictates. If we could have someone in place by the time the Open rolls around, that would be perfect and that's July," said Desrochers.

Those who think they influence such decisions have been circulating names and the list of candidates includes Brad Pelletier, managing director of the International Management Group's (IMG) Canadian office, personable Angus Glen vice-president Kevin Thistle and Toronto Argonauts head honcho Keith Pelley, among others.

All have redeeming qualities, but it's just a popularity contest at this point. If the media was so influential, then why did one national golf publication have to yank Ross' photo from its cover and make a quick change after naming him the most influential person in Canadian golf?

Apparently, all that influence can dry up pretty quickly. According to that magazine, the most influential person in Canadian golf is now nameless and faceless, which says it all about the value of such a superficial, controversy-seeking story.

Still, the question marks that surround the executive director's job are appropriate, despite all the speculation. There are way too many variables that could help or hinder each candidate's chances as recruitment swings into full gear.

Of course, the big, hairy gorilla facing the new person will be finding a sponsor for the Open and prospects aren't encouraging. It's important to remember the long term, however, and there are so many prerequisites and personal qualities to be scrutinized over the coming weeks that it's just to early to call.

As Desrochers points out, you could ask 10 different RCGA members about what the association's mandate should be and get 10 different answers.

"The RCGA is not just about rules or amateur status or the Canadian Open," Desrochers said. "It's about Future Links (junior program), the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame, agronomy. The list is as long as it is wide."

Not only will the new executive director need to be involved in all of those aspects, but also get the association's message out to the public. The RCGA definitely needs a makeover in the eyes of golfers.

"We've talked and still do about the failure to properly communicate with constituents," said Desrochers. "We should do a better job, but that takes dollars. We could take a lot of money to promote who we are or do we put the money towards programs? Programs always won out and I think we made the right decision."

Still, Desrochers admits that better communication might have better informed corporate CEOs and possibly gotten the RCGA closer to a title sponsor for the Open. Communication is an aspect that the new executive director will need to address, but it's just one of many challenges ahead.

The new executive director will have a direct impact on future RCGA programs. That person may decide to overhaul the entire association. How that new person works with the board of governors will be key to his/her survival in the job.

Nobody is a shoo-in, but whoever eventually gets the job has a long way to go before becoming the most influential person in golf. That's a bogus description anyway because different people influence different aspects of golf.

But if something so phony must exists, shouldn't it be earned on merit, not inherited with a title?


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