We have assembled a powerful line up of more than 25 platform speakers to stimulate and lead debate. They bring a breadth and depth of experience on the issues that matter in golf today; modernising the Rules, promoting sustainability in the game and demonstrating that golf is truly a sport for all. The conference sessions will be highly interactive with delegates given the time and space to contribute using the latest push to talk delegate microphone technology and handheld audience response voting terminals.

Delegates will hear the latest update on the much talked about World Handicap System and where next for golf in the Olympic Games after the stunning success of the sports reintroduction to Olympic competition in Rio last year.

Clive Edginton

Chairman, The R&A

Clive Edginton was elected Chairman of The R&A in 2015. He was a member of The R&A Rules of Golf Committee from 2000 - 2004, latterly its Deputy Chairman and was for two years a member of the Joint Rules of Golf Committee with the USGA. Between 2007 and 2011 Clive was Chairman of The R&A Amateur Status Committee. Educated at Malvern College and Oxford he graduated with a degree in Law. Work in the City of London followed including 27 years with specialist insurance management company, Tindall Riley, successively as Partner, Chief Executive and Chairman prior to retirement in 2014. Clive is a member of St George’s Hill Golf Club which he joined aged eight years. 

Sarah Stirk

Conference Host

One of the brightest talents in television broadcasting, Sarah Stirk is a respected TV presenter and journalist. She is one of the main hosts of Sky Sports golf coverage, working across the European Tour and PGA Tour. Her career to date has included presenting and reporting for MUTV, the BBC, and Sky News. Sarah moved across to Sky Sports in 2012, where she has become one of the network’s most valued presenters. Her role is a mixture of studio presentation in London and hosting the output on course across Europe and the United States. She also acts as a reporter for the Major championships. Sarah plays golf to a 7 handicap.

David Bonsall

Chairman, Rules of Golf Committee, The R&A

David became Chairman of the Rules of Golf Committee in September 2015 having previously served on the Rules Committee (2006-2010), including two years as Deputy Chairman. He has refereed many Open Championships, European Tour events and amateur events worldwide. He was Captain of The Royal St George’s Golf Club in 2003 when it hosted The Open Championship. Amongst other roles he has been an international lawyer and investment banker.

David Rickman

Executive Director - Governance and Chief of Staff, The R&A

David Rickman is The R&A's Executive Director - Governance, a post he has held under different titles since 1996. David is responsible for The R&A's governance functions (Rules of Golf, Amateur Status, Equipment Standards and Handicapping). He is also The R&A's newly appointed Chief of Staff, responsible for operational oversight of R&A strategy as well as HR, IT and Facilities. He is Chief Referee at The Open and will assume the same role at the Ricoh Women's British Open in 2017. David was born in St Andrews and has a degree in Business Studies and Accountancy from the University of Edinburgh.

Grant Moir

Director - Rules, The R&A

Following a degree in Law at Edinburgh University, Grant Moir began work with The R&A in January 1994 and is currently Director - Rules. He has been on the Rules Committee at The Open since 1996, has refereed at the three US Majors and was Chief Referee when golf made its debut at the Youth Olympic Games in 2014. Grant is a member of the International Golf Federation’s Competitions Committee and was closely involved in the Rules operation for the Rio 2016 competitions. In addition to his Rules commitments, Grant is heavily involved in course set-up at The Open and The Amateur Championship.

Dr Steve Otto

Director - Equipment Standards, Chief Technology Officer, The R&A

Steve oversees the evaluation and testing of golf equipment, organises research into the fundamental physics of golf and analyses the game at all levels based within The R&A's new facility, Allan Robertson House. He also has responsibility for the evolution of the Equipment Standards Rules and the oversight of technology for the organisation as a whole, in his role as the Chief Technology Officer. Both of his degrees are in mathematics and he worked at NASA Langley as a Staff Scientist, prior to becoming a Senior Lecturer in Mathematics at the University of Birmingham. He has written two books, over fifty scientific papers and supervised 20 PhD projects, over half of which have been focussed on golf.

Diane Bailey MBE

President, The Ladies Golf Union

Diane Bailey took up her post as President of the Ladies Golf Union in 2015 and has led for her organisation in the now completed merger with The R&A. She won the British Girls’ Championship in 1961 and was runner-up in the Ladies’ British Amateur Championship in the same year. She represented England in the 1960s and ‘70s, and was capped for Great Britain & Ireland in the Vagliano Trophy match against the Continent of Europe, in the World Team Championships, and twice in Curtis Cup matches against the United States. She followed her playing career with a successful stint as Captain of the GB&I Curtis Cup team winning twice in three encounters. Diane was awarded MBE in 1988 for services to golf. 

Marta Figueras-Dotti

Women’s British Open Champion and Vice-Captain of the 2017 European Solheim Cup Team

Marta Figueras-Dotto was Athlete of the Year in her native Spain in 1977. She won the same accolade at USC in 1982 before winning the Women's British Open Championship, as an amateur, in the same year. As a professional Marta won six times across three different tours, twice each on the Ladies European Tour, the Symetra Tour and the LPGA Tour.  She coached the Spanish national women's golf team from 2001-2015 and has worked with past and present players on the Ladies European Tour, LPGA and PGA Tour. In 2016 Marta Captained the Spanish women's golf team at the Olympic Games in Rio and later this year she will Vice-Captain the European Solheim Cup team.

Judy Murray

Tennis Coach and former Captain of the British Federation Cup Team

Judy Murray is a former Scottish international tennis player with 64 national titles to her name. She became Scottish National Coach in 1995, the same year that she became the first woman to pass the Lawn Tennis Association’s Performance Coach Award. She initiated the Scottish Development School programme which ultimately produced four Davis Cup players and one Fed Cup player, including her Grand-Slam-winning sons, Jamie and Andy. In 2011 Judy was appointed Captain of the British Fed Cup Team and used this role to grow the profile and numbers in women’s tennis across players and coaches. Judy has developed several tennis initiatives including Miss-Hits, a starter programme for girls age 5 to 8, Tennis on the Road, which takes tennis into remote and deprived parts of Scotland, and, most recently, She Rallies, a programme with the LTA, to encourage more women and girls into tennis across the UK.

John Bushell

Managing Director, Sports Marketing Surveys Inc.

As Managing Director of Sports Marketing Surveys Inc., John plays a strategic role in providing insight to sports federations, equipment brands, venues & events. SMS Inc. has a strong heritage in golf working closely with national federations, manufacturers and on golf events for The R&A, The European Tour and The IGF including The Open and the 2016 Rio Games. A Cambridge University graduate and golf Blue; John then spent 11 years with Unilever and SmithKline Beecham. He has worked in the sports industry since 1996, initially as marketing director for Ben Sayers and ProQuip before launching Srixon in 1997. As Head of Marketing, John launched Premier Rugby in 1999, before joining Sports Marketing Surveys Inc. in 2000.

Professor Simon Shibli

CIMA, Professor of Sport Management and Head of the Sport Industry Research Centre, Sheffield Hallam University, England, UK

Simon is a Chartered Institute of Management Accountants qualified accountant whose specialist areas of interest are the finance and economics of the sport and leisure industries. Since the 2010 Open Championship, Simon and his team have conducted economic impact studies for each of the host venues on The Open rotation. In 2016, the SIRC team produced an assessment of the economic importance of the golf industry to the UK. This report was launched at the Houses of Parliament and was subsequently featured as the subject of an adjournment debate in the House of Commons.

Stephen Gethins MP

Member of Parliament for North East Fife

Stephen Gethins entered Parliament at the general election of 2015 elected to represent the constituency of North East Fife. He is the Scottish National Party’s Spokesperson for Europe and on Exiting the European Union. The constituency is home to golf’s world governing body The R&A, the famous Old Course and the ancient University of St Andrews, founded in the 15th century. Understanding the value of golf to his constituents Stephen, a non-golfer, was instrumental in forming the All-Party Parliamentary Golf Group in Parliament and is currently a Vice-Chairman. Stephen holds degrees from Dundee and Antwerp Universities and a Research Masters from Kent University on the role that devolved assemblies can play in combatting inter-ethnic conflict.

Steve Isaac

Director - Sustainability, The R&A

An Applied Biology graduate, Steve joined the Sports Turf Research Institute (STRI), a leading European turfgrass research and consultancy service, in 1985. After a year on the research team, he became a turfgrass agronomist, visiting around 100 golf courses a year, including three Open Championship venues. In 2003, Steve joined The R&A where he is responsible for helping to develop and implement The R&A's sustainability programme and the sustainable development initiative for The Open, GreenLinks. His work has taken him to most European countries and to Africa, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, South America and the USA.

Lewis Pugh

Ocean advocate and endurance swimmer

Lewis Pugh is an ocean advocate and an endurance swimmer. He is the only person to have completed a long distance swim in every ocean of the world. Over a period of 30 years he has pioneered swims in the most challenging environments on earth including the Antarctic, the North Pole and the Himalayas and developed an understanding of the beauty and fragility of life and its many ecosystems. In 2013 he was appointed the UN Patron of the Oceans. And last year he helped negotiate the creation of the largest protected area in the world in the Ross Sea off Antarctica.

Peter Dawson OBE

President, International Golf Federation

Peter Dawson became Joint Secretary of the International Golf Federation (IGF) on joining The R&A as Chief Executive in 1999. He led the 2009 bid that restored golf’s standing as an Olympic Sport and became President of the IGF in 2010. Now in his fourth term Peter has overseen golf at the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing in 2014 and the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016. A Cambridge Engineering and Management Studies graduate Peter worked, internationally, in senior executive roles in the heavy construction machinery industry. In 2015 he was awarded the OBE for services to golf and in 2016 became Chairman of the Official World Golf Rankings. He is a member of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews and several other clubs.

Christophe Dubi

Executive Director, the Olympic Games

Christophe Dubi joined the IOC in 1986 as a trainee working on sports management and the impact of the Games. By July 2007, he was appointed IOC Sports Director, a role that required him to oversee the sports components of the Olympic Games and to manage relations with the International Sports Federations. Since September 2014, Christophe has been Olympic Games Executive Director. In collaboration with all IOC departments, Olympic Broadcasting Service, as well as Olympic Movement stakeholders, the Olympic Games Department is in charge of managing and coordinating all activities related to the Olympic and Youth Olympic Games, from the candidature phase to the dissolution of the organising committee.

Antony Scanlon

Executive Director, International Golf Federation

Antony was appointed International Golf Federation (IGF) Executive Director in 2010 and quickly established the organisation’s headquarters at Maison du Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland. He is responsible for the promotion of golf as an Olympic Sport, the international development of golf and the representation of golf within the Olympic Movement. His earlier career included time as Head of Olympic Games Coordination, Services and Operations with the International Olympic Committee and a senior role with the Sydney 2000 Organising Committee for the Olympic Games in his native Australia. In 2016 he led the delivery of golf’s return to Olympic competition in Rio de Janeiro.

Giles Morgan

Global Head of Sponsorship and Events, HSBC

Giles Morgan is one of the world's leading sponsorship and brand stewardship executives. Since 2005, he has led HSBC's global sponsorship portfolio with over 100 sponsorships investments in more than 35 markets. A major sponsor of golf and rugby, HSBC is widely credited with helping both sports to embrace the opportunity of Olympic inclusion and to widen their global appeal. In 2016, HSBC announced a groundbreaking 8-year deal to be lead partner of British Cycling. Giles has featured in SportsBusiness Magazine's Top 200 people in sport, in Rugby World's Top 50 Most Influential People in Rugby and in Golf Inc Magazine's Most Powerful People in Golf. He is a keen supporter of Welsh Rugby and Somerset County Cricket Club and his passions include playing the pub piano, British and European History and skiing. He is a woeful golfer.

Mark Lawrie

Director – Latin America & Caribbean, The R&A

Mark joined The R&A in 2014 following fifteen years as Chief Executive of the Argentine Golf Association. He was a member of the International Golf Federation Administrative Committee (2000-2014), represented his country at the South American Golf Federation and was heavily involved in the development of the PGA Tour Latin America. He acted as Captain for Argentina at five Eisenhower Trophies and represented South America on The R&A Amateur Status Committee. Mark’s current responsivities includes overseeing R&A assisted public projects with National Federations in the region, organisation of the Latin America Amateur Championship, the Annika Invitational Latin America and the South American Amateur Championships.

Dominic Wall

Director, Asia Pacific, The R&A

Dominic Wall joined The R&A in 2009 as Director, Asia-Pacific based first in Hong Kong and now in Singapore. He has more than 30 years’ experience in national and international sports management including 16 years in senior roles at the Australian Golf Union/Golf Australia and 5 years at the Australian Coaching Council. In mid-2006 he established a golf consultancy company (Golf Development and Performance Services), was appointed Tournament Director for the Asia-Pacific Golf Confederation and since then has conducted numerous tournaments throughout Asia-Pacific. During this period, he undertook projects in Taiwan, Singapore, India, Malaysia and Australia and wrote a book called Golf Excellence. He is a member of the Technical Committee and Board of the Women’s World Golf Rankings and a Board Member of the HSBC/China Golf Association’s National Junior Programme.

Duncan Weir

Executive Director - Golf Development, The R&A

Duncan joined The R&A staff in 1985 following a four-year golf scholarship at William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, graduating with a BA Economics in 1984. He worked on The Open Championship from 1985 to 2000 before his appointment as The R&A's first director responsible for golf development. Today he supervises the distribution of more than £5m of development funding annually and oversees The R&A’s Amateur Events. Playing golf Duncan has won both the Scottish Boys' and Scottish Schoolboys' Championships and has represented Scotland and Great Britain & Ireland internationally. He is married with two sons.

Stephen Pitt

Chief Executive Officer, Golf Australia

Stephen Pitt joined Golf Australia in November 2008 following two and a half years as the CEO of Golf Queensland. Stephen has helped rebuild the financial position of the organisation and strengthened Golf Australia’s engagement with key stakeholders including State Associations, Government and the media. He has worked with the Golf Australia Board and staff to deliver some of the finest Men’s and Women’s Australian Open Championships in the long and storied histories of these events. Golf Australia has enjoyed notable success with high-performance, website and digital communications programmes and has done an enormous amount of work in game development programmes for juniors, women and casual golfers.

Rodrigo Cordero

Vice-President, Costa Rica Golf Federation

Rodrigo Cordero is Vice-President of the Costa Rica Golf Federation, the sport’s governing body affiliated to The R&A for the Rules of Golf, and the National Organisation for Olympic golf in the country. A focus on junior golf development is paying dividends in a nation of 4.5 million people with only 3,000 golfers. In 2016 Costa Rica’s Paul Chaplet won the Latin America Amateur Championship in the Dominican Republic and one year on fellow countryman, Alvaro E. Ortiz finished T4 in the same event in Panama. A lawyer by training Rodrigo graduated from Escuela Libre de Derecho in San José City and has worked throughout Latin and North America.

Angela Howe

Museum and Heritage Director, The R&A

Angela Howe was appointed Director of the British Golf Museum in 2009. Her academic background is in the History of Art (BA; MPhil). She began working at the British Golf Museum in 1997 while undertaking a Post-Graduate Diploma in Museum & Gallery Studies at the University of St Andrews. Angela is also Golf Heritage Secretary to The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, a role that involves responsibility for The Club's collections and archive. She has written several publications on notable 19th Century R&A members and sits on the World Golf Hall of Fame and Museum Selection Sub Committee.

Kevin Barker

Director - Golf Development

Kevin transferred to The R&A’s Golf Development department having been a part of the Rules department for 16 years. In his time in Rules, he had a particular focus on Rules education, and he refereed at many events around the world, including The Open, US PGA and The Players. He is a former lawyer, graduating from Glasgow University. Married with two young boys he still hopes to get his handicap down to scratch – even for just one day.

Claire Bates

Joint Director, World Handicap System, Director - Handicapping, The R&A

Claire Bates joined The R&A in 1993 with a degree in International Business. Prior to her appointment as Director - Handicapping she worked in Equipment Standards and was primarily responsible for evaluating new products submitted by manufacturers for conformance to the Rules of Golf. In this role she helped to ensure that the equipment Rules remain both relevant to the modern game and respectful of tradition while forging healthy and respectful working relationships with the world's equipment manufacturers. In January 2016, she transferred to her new position, managing The R&A’s involvement in the proposed implementation of a world handicapping system.

Steven Edmondson

Joint Director, World Handicap System, Managing Director, USGA Handicapping & Course Rating

Steve has served in a leadership role in the USGA for over 18 years, with responsibilities for strategic planning, operations and direction of the USGA Handicap and Course Rating Systems, and the GHIN service. He began his interest in amateur golf in 1993 with the Northern California Golf Association, followed by the Utah Golf Association shortly thereafter.

Johnnie Cole-Hamilton

Executive Director - Championships, The R&A

Johnnie Cole-Hamilton leads the team responsible for staging The Open and leads on R&A involvement at The Open, the Ricoh Women’s British Open and the Senior Open. He launched his career in golf administration as Tournament Director at the PGA before joining The R&A in the Rules department in 1999. Eighteen months on saw the switch back to championship staging responsibilities and a rise through the ranks at The R&A culminating in the Executive Director - Championships role which he has occupied since the start of 2012. Educated at Loretto School near Edinburgh, the University of the West of England and Strathclyde University he holds a first degree in Social Science and a Masters in Human Resource Management. Married with two children, Johnnie lives in St Andrews.

Martin Slumbers

Chief Executive, The R&A

Martin Slumbers joined The R&A as Chief Executive in 2015 succeeding Peter Dawson on his retirement. An early achievement has been the design, development and implementation of a five-year strategic plan for the organisation. Educated at Lancing College and Birmingham University Martin graduated BSc in Production Engineering and Economics. He trained as a Chartered Accountant with Price Waterhouse before a switch to investment banking with Salomon Brothers rising to Chief Financial Officer posts in Asia and Europe. A move to Deutsche Bank saw roles as Global Head of Investment Banking Operations and Head of Global Business Services. Married with two sons, and a member of several golf clubs including Crail in Fife and Worplesdon in Surrey..

Fairmont, St Andrews

The conference venue that is a golf and spa resort with panoramic views of St Andrews from its grounds.

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British Golf Museum

Britain’s most comprehensive golf collection and one of the finest worldwide, celebrating golf from grassroots to international level.

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Visit Scotland

2017 is the year dedicated to exploring Scotland’s History, Heritage and Archaeology that is open to all. (Image © VisitScotland/Kenny Lam)

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