SBJ/June 20-26, 2011/Labor and Agents

IMG taps 2 for U.S. golf

On the heels of Mark Steinberg’s departure, IMG Golf selected two new department heads who are based in London and Singapore. The natural reaction to the heightened global focus, both internally and externally, was: What about the U.S.?

IMG has addressed that question by coming up with the formal name of IMG Golf Americas for its U.S. base in Cleveland.

Jon Wagner and Clarke Jones, a pair of IMG Golf senior vice presidents, will lead IMG Golf Americas, which will cover the United States, Canada and Latin America.

Guy Kinnings from London and Robbie Henchman from Singapore were installed as the co-chiefs of IMG Golf when Steinberg left last month. They jointly report to IMG President and COO Mike Dolan.

While Kinnings has strong contacts in Europe and Henchman is dialed in throughout Asia, they say they will work collaboratively with Cleveland-based Wagner and Jones.

“The four of us have talked a lot more in the last three weeks than we have in a long time, and it’s been great,” Wagner said last week from the U.S. Open, where all four executives were at Congressional. “There’s definitely an inclusive feel to things.”

The name of IMG Golf Americas also “puts an emphasis on the domestic market and how important it is,” Wagner said. “This is where most of the governing bodies are, this is where the major manufacturers are, the PGA Tour — this title supports all of that.”

Wagner said he will be more focused on business development and events while Jones will be heavily involved with player representation, although “there won’t be any decisions made where we won’t cover everything together,” Wagner said.

IMG’s clients include the world’s No. 1-ranked golfer, Luke Donald; Camilo Villegas; Steve Stricker; and several others on the PGA Tour and internationally.

While Tiger Woods announced his intention to leave IMG to go with Steinberg, Annika Sorenstam has not said whether she will follow Steinberg. As of last week, she remained an IMG client.

Steinberg has not yet said whether he will join another athlete representation firm or start his own business.

In addition to player representation, IMG Golf runs more than 40 events globally and consults with companies such as General Electric and RBC.

Because the newly named IMG Golf Americas includes South America, IMG will have a particular interest in Brazil, where golf will be played for the first time as part of the 2016 Olympics. It also will have an interest in Colombia, which is Villegas’ home country, and in other Latin American markets.

“The PGA Tour is talking about a new Latin American series, you’ve got the Olympics, you’ve got tour winners [Argentines Angel Cabrera and Andres Romero],” Jones said. “But the game is still viewed as being played by relatively few people in those countries. That really is the last frontier in golf development.”

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