Kinnings Looks To Bring Unity & Alignment To The Ancient Club-And-Ball Game

Guy Kinnings has today officially begun his new role as the European Tour Group’s Chief Executive Officer and declaring he looks to help bring unity and alignment to the current controversy-plagued ancient club-and-ball game.

Kinnings, who succeeds Keith Pelley, has been the European Tour Group’s Deputy CEO, Chief Commercial Officer and Executive Director – Ryder Cup since 2018, and now becomes only the fifth person in the CEO position since the Tour was established in 1972.

Prior to joining the European Tour Kinnings worked for near on 30-years with management giant IMG, and among his then duties was managing the affairs to eight-time European Tour No. 1 Colin Montgomerie.

Guy Kinnings officially takes as CEO European Tour Group (Image – European Tour)

The 60-year-old Kinnings could not be stepping into the role at more controversial time in the history of men’s professional golf with no resolution as yet to the events that rocked the game nearly three years ago.

However if there is any advantage in Kinnings taking over from Pelley it is that Kinnings has been by Pelley’s side since LIV Golf kicked off in June 2022 while Kinnings has also been a party to dealings with the PIF Fund that hopefully with mend the many broken bridges.

“Today is a very proud day for me and my family. It is a real privilege to become the Chief Executive of the European Tour Group and it is a responsibility I do not take lightly”, said Kinnings.

“Our Tour has such a wonderful history, and I am delighted to have this opportunity to help shape the next exciting phase in its evolution.

“I have been working closely with our players, our Board, our partners and our staff over the past six years and I feel we have a great opportunity to look forward and to focus on unity and alignment in the game. There has been a shift in our sport to a more global mindset and that is something, as golf’s global Tour, that we welcome.

“We have a widely recognised international footprint, stemming from 50 years of building relationships and staging tournaments in many different countries and continents and this allows us to appeal to golf fans from a wide variety of different backgrounds and demographics. We very much look forward to continuing that.”

Eric Nicoli, Chairman of the European Tour Group, said: “This is a hugely significant day for the European Tour Group as a whole and on behalf of the entire Board, I am delighted to welcome Guy to the role of CEO.

“He is vastly experienced, is hugely respected throughout the golf industry and has strong relationships right across our sport. Our deliberate and purposeful succession planning will ensure a seamless transition in our leadership at this pivotal time in the evolution of the men’s professional game.

“We are looking forward to working closely with Guy to take advantage of the opportunities that await us, and to take our Tour to even greater heights on behalf of the entirety of our membership.”

Kinnings has been an influential figure in golf for more than three decades. A law graduate from University of Oxford, he left Freshfields law firm to join IMG’s legal team in London in 1989 and moved to its golf division in 1991 where he worked with some of the world’s leading players in the professional game.

He went on to become IMG’s Senior International Vice President and Global Head of Golf, leading the company’s worldwide golf business comprising both clients and events, as well as managing its key relationships with all governing bodies and brands involved with the sport.

He joined the European Tour Group prior to the 2018 Ryder Cup at Le Golf National in France and as Executive Director – Ryder Cup, he has overseen the growth of the biennial contest’s Worldwide Partner programme.

Kinnings also had overall responsibility for the 2023 Ryder Cup in Rome – the most successful edition to be staged in Europe – as Luke Donald’s European Team defeated the United States 16½-11½ at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club.

As Deputy Chief Executive and Chief Commercial Officer, he also oversaw the growth of the Tour’s commercial operation.
Alongside the Board and the Executive Leadership Team, he helped to secure the Strategic Alliance with the PGA TOUR in 2020 which has helped grow the DP World Tour prize funds to record levels. He was also central to the ground-breaking agreement for DP World to become the title partner of the main Tour at the start of the 2022 season.

Kinnings becomes the fifth Chief Executive of the European Tour Group, following John Jacobs (1972-1975), Ken Schofield (1975 – 2004), George O’Grady (2005-2015) and Keith Pelley (2015-2024).

Who is Guy Kinnings?

Born in Wolverhampton, Guy Kinnings was educated at Shrewsbury School before gaining a law degree from Oxford University,

“My brother and I were incredibly lucky,” Kinnings told John Hopkins and Global Golf Post of his education. “Our parents drove 120 miles a day on some of the busiest roads in Europe so that Max and I could go to Shrewsbury.”

He started his career as a solicitor with London firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. But it wasn’t long before he moved into the golf world, joining IMG in 1989 – first in the legal department – before becoming an agent in its golf division two years later.

Kinnings would work at IMG for 29 years, rising to senior vice president, global head of golf, and Global Co-Managing Director – leading the huge company’s golf business.

He also created and developed sponsorship programmes with a host of worldwide brands, including Rolex, HSBC, Canon, and Volvo, and reorganised and grew the company’s golf events business.

Ahead of the Ryder Cup in Rome last September, he told Lux Magazine of his grounding: “I learned the ropes from the legendary Mark McCormack at IMG, who managed the likes of Arnold Palmer and Gary Player and basically invented the role of a modern sports agent.

“I could not have asked for a better mentor.”

Most notably, Kinnings was Colin Montgomerie’s manager during the Scot’s great heights in the 1990s and early 2000s.

“He understood me and I understood him,” Montgomerie told Hopkins. “We went together, similarly educated, university educated, that type of thing. It was an easy fit.”

He added: “He always felt I employed him. He was very aware of that and that was a good thing. A lot of agents and client managers feel they are in charge. He felt it was the other way round and he was right.”

Kinnings became renowned in tour circles as someone you could rely on, and who could manage the relationships that make the golf world go round. From Paul McGinley, to Jay Monahan, to Chubby Chandler, they all said the same thing. He’s a guy they respect.

Having become a fixture at IMG, Kinnings then moved in the spring of 2018 to the European Tour and has since served as Deputy CEO at HQ in Wentworth, and also as Ryder Cup director.

In the latter role, he has been tasked with overseeing the biennial team event and driving the commercial success of the competition between Europe and the USA. The last edition, in Rome, was the largest ever held in Europe,

“When I moved away from the management side of events and clients and everything IMG, it was in large part because of the opportunity to work on this event,” he told the PGA.

“Literally within a couple of months, I was lucky enough to be there dealing with the Ryder Cup in Paris in 2018, which I thought was exceptional. And I was lucky enough to work with an old friend, Thomas Bjorn, who I’d worked with as his manager.”

He added of his plans ahead of Rome: “What we want to do is to try and increase the experience, both for those who are there and those who are watching.

“The Ryder Cup is the one moment when everyone in sport, and even people outside it, wants to watch. You’ve got to remember, we do what we do as a tour to feed the money through to the members. That’s our job.”

  • Who is Guy Kinnings thanks to National Club Golfer 

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