New European Tour deputy CEO Guy Kinnings puts Ryder Cup at heart of its growth

Guy Kinnings, who has been appointed as deputy CEO of the European Tour, presents Colin Montgomerie with his 1996 European Tour Player of the Year award. Picture: Getty.
Guy Kinnings, who has been appointed as deputy CEO of the European Tour, presents Colin Montgomerie with his 1996 European Tour Player of the Year award. Picture: Getty.
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Guy Kinnings, Colin Montgomerie’s long-time manager and best man at the Scot’s second wedding, is joining the European Tour as deputy CEO to Keith Pelley and Ryder Cup director, taking over the latter role from Richard Hills.

The addition of Kinnings, a former solicitor who has worked for IMG since 1989, rising to senior vice president and global head of golf, to the Tour’s staff has been hailed by Pelley, who has been building his own senior management team since taking over the reins from George O’Grady in August 2015.

“To bring someone of Guy Kinnings’ undisputed experience to the European Tour is a massive coup for everyone here at Wentworth. We will definitely benefit from his wealth of knowledge and his undoubted management skills,” said the Canadian.

“His experience in the Ryder Cup, stretching back over a quarter of a century, is unparalleled and his business know-how is equal to that. We have said on many occasions that we are a global golf Tour and Guy’s international profile will help us expand in that area.

“I am delighted to welcome him to the team and I am very much looking forward to what we can achieve together over the coming months and years.”

One of the most recognised faces in world golf, Kinnings moved from IMG’s legal team in London to its golf division in 1991, initially focusing on client management – Montgomerie was his main priority as the Scot won eight European Order of Merit titles – and recruitment.

In his latter roles, he led the company’s global golf business comprising both clients and events. He also created and developed extensive sponsorship programmes with worldwide brands, including Rolex, HSBC and Volvo.

“I am absolutely delighted to have been given this opportunity and I am very excited about what the future holds for both the European Tour and the Ryder Cup,” said Kinnings, who was touted as a possible replacement for O’Grady after his departure was announced in November 2014. “I have great respect for what Keith Pelley, David Williams and the board of directors are achieving at the Tour. I have watched with interest the remarkable changes that have taken place in recent times and I see the Ryder Cup at the heart of future growth.”

Hills will step down as Ryder Cup director after this year’s contest at Le Golf National in Paris, having overseen the event’s growth since first becoming involved at Walton Heath in 1983, when he was with the agency that worked with the European Tour.

Kinnings’ first home match as director will be the 2022 contest in Italy, with Pelley having been at the forefront of that mega-money deal being secured at the 11th hour after it seemed that the event would be heading to either Germany or Spain.

“Over 25 years in the game has given me an insight into the power of the Ryder Cup, as it has evolved to be not only the greatest team event in golf, but also one of the most dramatic and enthralling events in all sport,” added Kinnings

“Since 1991, I have been fortunate to have worked with players, captains and the Tour at almost every Ryder Cup. This has given me some fascinating insights and a close and meaningful relationship with many of the key stakeholders in the event and in the game as a whole. I look forward to working with them and everyone at the European Tour to further develop the Ryder Cup in terms of operations, revenue growth and innovation.”

Hills, who was appointed as Ryder Cup director by Ken Schofield in 1993, became a well-known face in Scotland in the build-up to the 2014 event at Gleneagles, an event that not only produced a thumping 16.5-11.5 win for Paul McGinley’s side but was also hailed as an overwhelming success from a spectator point of view.

“I have been privileged to have been Ryder Cup director since the 1995 match at Oak Hill Country Club in New York and it is perhaps fitting that I now hand over the reins as I work with my 12th Ryder Cup captain in Thomas Bjørn,” said Hills.

“Just as each captain is proud to stand alongside the 12 players in his team, I am proud to have worked with some of the legendary figures in European golf in the shape of those 12 captains – Bernard Gallacher, Seve Ballesteros, Mark James, Sam Torrance, Bernhard Langer, Ian Woosnam, Sir Nick Faldo, Colin Montgomerie, José María Olazábal, Paul McGinley, Darren Clarke and now Thomas.

“It has been an honour to serve and also lead a tremendous team behind the scenes here at Ryder Cup Europe. It goes without saying I wish Thomas and the 2018 team 
all the very best at Le Golf National in September and also Guy every success in the role.”

In addition to Montgomerie, Kinnings has also managed Bjorn, Luke Donald and Paul Casey, who looks almost certain to be on the Dane’s team for September’s match in France after rejoining the European Tour this year with that specific target in mind.