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Volume 21 No. 1
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Octagon reboots golf representation business

Octagon has re-entered the golf representation business as it looks to dive back into athlete management and golf course development.

The company has hired four veteran executives, including Stuart Cage, formerly the lead agent for Chubby Chandler’s ISM where he managed Rory McIlroy. It has also brought on former IMG golf executive Ross Chouler, former IMG and Gaylord Sports Management executive Terry Baller and former PGA Tour player and recently turned agent Joel Kribel.

“This is a comprehensive relaunch of our golf player management business on a global scale with highly respected and experienced people,” said Octagon President Phil de Picciotto.

Cage will work out of London; Chouler will work out of Octagon’s headquarters in McLean, Va.; Kribel will be based in Scottsdale, Ariz.; and Baller will be in Cleveland.

All will report to Octagon Golf Managing Director David Yates, a veteran executive hired last July after spending 28 years working at IMG, Gaylord Sports Management and Lagardère Unlimited Golf. (Lagardère Unlimited acquired Gaylord Sports Management in January 2012.)

Yates was charged with rebuilding an Octagon golf division that had faded with the loss of key personnel, including Giff Breed, Vernon Spratley and Vinny Giles, over the years. In 2011, Octagon announced that it no longer would seek golfers to represent. Yates’ hiring last year signaled a reversal of that strategy. He has spent the last nine months charting a new course for Octagon Golf, one that would take the division back into athlete representation and golf course design in a big way.

Cage’s hiring is perhaps the most significant of the new moves because of his global connections and experience working with McIlroy, 2010 British Open champ Louis Oosthuizen, Peter Uihlein and others. Cage’s title will be director of global golf for Octagon, and he will direct player management efforts across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Yates would not say what player clients may be following Cage and the other new hires to Octagon Golf but said he hopes to make new client announcements by the end of this month. Additionally, Yates said, he expects to make new Octagon Golf employee announcements later this month.

Octagon has a strong golf events business, managing several events on the LPGA and Champions tours, as well as a strong corporate consulting business in golf, with clients such as BMW and MasterCard. Scott Seymour oversees consulting, while Chris Higgs runs events.

Baller, director of golf course and facility design, most recently worked at a company he founded, Sustainable Sports Solutions. He will be involved in golf course design and renovations globally, as well as launching sports academies. Yates indicated that Baller was on the verge of new design business in Southeast Asia and the U.S.

Chouler, who worked in business development during six months with IMG in South Africa, will be a client manager.
Kribel, a former All-American golfer at Stanford, “has hit the ground running” in his new career as an agent, recruiting current pros and using his college contacts to dig into the amateur ranks, Yates said.

Octagon’s move back into golf follows a pattern of large, global agencies making big bets on the sport.

Lagardère Unlimited recently bought Crown Sports and its stable of 20-plus golfers to go with the assets it acquired with Gaylord, making it among the largest golf agencies. Wasserman Media Group has over the last two years built its player base to go with a strong golf consulting business. And IMG Golf vows to retain its status as a major player with a strong global events and media business to offset significant personnel losses in the last few years.