New era teed up

IAN HUTCHINSON -- Special to Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:32 AM ET

The Royal Canadian Golf Association frequently has been accused of living in the past and it has lived up to that reputation with the selection of a former employee as its new executive director.

In this case, living in the past may mean moving forward as Scott Simmons, 45, was renowned as a progressive sort during his previous term with the RCGA as director of marketing and communications from 1992 to 2000. Simmons replaces former boss Stephen Ross, who stepped down in March.

Since leaving the RCGA in 2000, Simmons has worked with The Beer Store as vice- president of marketing and business development and has served as vice- president of sales, customer service and distribution for Hamilton-based Lakeport Brewing before starting his own consulting business.

"It's almost like recharging the battery, being elsewhere for seven or eight years, gaining different executive management learning experiences, seeing other industries, dealing with boards and then, reflecting back on how that might work with the RCGA," Simmons said.

Simmons won't have much time to ease into the job. He will be thrown into the hunt for a title sponsor for the Canadian Open on July 26-29 at Markham's Angus Glen.

"I don't think we can go much longer without a title sponsor, or at least another formula to inject more revenue into the event, so it will be priority No. 1. It's tough with the economics of the game in this country," said Simmons, who played a key role in landing Bell Canada as a title sponsor.

Bell's title sponsorship began in 1994 and continued until last year when it took a lesser role with the tournament. Simmons says he is keeping an open mind about how Canadian Open sponsorship will be structured this time around.

"It doesn't necessarily have to be a title package. There could be a consortium of presenting sponsors, which has been done very successfully," he said.

While there have been predictions that the Open may not survive past next year's edition at Glen Abbey, it's not a fate that Simmons is willing to consider.

While the Open is the high profile topic of concern, there will be other challenges ahead for Simmons, including fence-mending with other organizations such as the National Golf Course Owners Association, which has been feuding with the RCGA over its desire to get into course ownership.


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