In conversation with… The R&A’s Phil Anderton

As The R&A’s chief development officer, Phil Anderton will play a key role in shaping the governing body’s future strategy. He talks about his role and his plans It is days after the BMW PGA Championship but Golf Twitter is still arguing about the merits – or otherwise – of wearing a hoodie. Tyrrell Hatton has swept to victory in the European Tour’s flagship event and yet a small club in County Durham have found themselves making worldwide headlines – even Golf Digest got involved – after doubling down on a club rule banning such garments from the course. Dress codes might seem far removed from Phil Anderton’s role as The R&A’s new chief development officer. But it’s a measure of the way he sees his remit that when I suggest he might have bigger fish to fry, he is unequivocal. “When you said Tyrrell Hatton’s dress code is not really in my remit, I would counter and say it’s absolutely in my remit because projecting the sport in a modern and appealing way to specific audiences is super important,” he explains. “The fact that wearing a hoodie gets people excited, in some respects I kind of welcome it because it draws attention to golf and I take my hat off to Tyrrell Hatton for wearing what he wants to wear within the appropriate rules and regulations. “It’s a bit like (Andre) Agassi when he came out with his hairstyle and the dress code. It got attention and he wasn’t breaking any rules. “I welcome that, absolutely. I think that, when we look at the image of the sport of golf, The R&A can help affiliates around the world to present an image that is going to be appealing to the different groups that we need to go after if we are going to have the sport thrive.” If you delve a little into Anderton’s CV, you start to understand why projecting the right image is such an important part of his make-up. He’s worked for some of the world’s largest firms – Procter & Gamble and The Coca-Cola Company – and was chief executive at Scottish Rugby and Heart of Midlothian. At the former, he picked up the nickname ‘Fireworks Phil’ for the pre-game razzmatazz that transformed the Murrayfield experience. He’s also been chief marketing officer of the ATP Tour and chairman of the ATP World Tour Finals, so knows only too well both how to market and how to entertain. It’s a wealth of experience that will come in handy as Anderton assumes responsibility at the governing body for a wealth of areas as diverse as golf development and amateur championships to sustainability and the British Golf Museum. So in a wide-ranging interview covering everything from the culture change required in golf, to coronavirus, we asked Anderton about his new role at The R&A, the challenges and opportunities facing golf and how image is more vital than ever... You have a fairly unique resume – someone who grew...
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