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Volume 20 No. 46
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IMG, CAA make changes in golf business

Major shake-ups at IMG and CAA Sports last week gave the golf agency world a new look.

IMG will no longer have a separate consulting division for golf clients, a shift in structure that has eliminated longtime IMG executive Bart Kendall’s job. Kendall, a senior vice president and veteran of 18 years at IMG Golf, led the golf division’s consulting business, which included clients such as Royal Bank of Canada and Chevron.

CAA, meanwhile, leaped deeper into the golf space with the acquisition of MG Sports Marketing, a Ponte Vedra, Fla.-based shop run by partners Billy McGriff and Ben Gannett. MGSM’s clients include CDW, Farmers Insurance, Mitsubishi Electric, PwC, UBS and Zurich Financial Services.

CAA has been aggressively on the move in golf, especially recently with the addition of former USGA executive Pete Bevacqua in June. The company also hired Greg Luckman away from GroupM ESP in September to build its corporate consulting business. The acquisition of MGSM instantly gives CAA a solid core of golf consulting clients.

At IMG, Kendall admitted to being surprised by the restructuring.

“I was asked 4 1/2 years ago to start a golf consulting business for IMG, and I’m very proud of what was established,” said Kendall, who also worked on events and sales at IMG before starting the golf consulting division. “I had the opportunity to work with some blue-chip companies and run a profitable golf consulting practice, so I’m optimistic about what the future holds.”

IMG’s restructuring started in May when Mark Steinberg left the company and eventually joined Excel Sports Management.

IMG has had a separate consulting division in the past for its golf-specific clients, and Kendall spearheaded the team that worked out of the IMG Golf office in Cleveland. That golf consulting business now will be rolled into the global consulting group under David Abrutyn, IMG’s senior vice president and managing director.

No other job losses are expected from the consolidation of divisions.

IMG will keep a consulting presence in its Cleveland office, where the North American golf division has long been based, but those executives will now report to Kevin Ring, vice president of consulting, in Cleveland.

Consulting from the Cleveland office will now flow through Ring into Abrutyn’s office.

“We had both groups doing consulting work and when we looked at how to grow the business, putting everything under one umbrella was the most transparent way to go to market,” Abrutyn said. “We wanted to make sure we eliminated any confusion.”

Ring has worked out of the Cleveland office and was considered the bridge between the golf division and the consulting group. There had been some collaboration with clients, but the new structure will promote more ways in which the New York and Cleveland offices can work together, Abrutyn said.