Tuesday, January 25, 2011

GCSAA made a strong choice in choosing Evans

Though it might not satisfy some, removing the “interim” title and choosing Rhett Evans as the next GCSAA CEO was a strong choice made by the GCSAA Board of Directors.

In the short term, Evans already knows the score at GCSAA. He knows what the association is going through. He knows what the staff has been going through. There will be no “catch-up” stage.

In the long term, Evans has the pedigree. Keep in mind, when GCSAA hired Evans to become the Chief Operating Officer, they really were hiring him to be the next GCSAA CEO – even ousted former CEO Mark Woodward would tell you that. Woodward introduced the Board to Evans as “his guy” – the two worked together back in Mesa, Ariz. Both Woodward, then Evans, worked as the city’s director of parks and recreation, where they managed a staff of 700 and budget of $32 million.

When Woodward left for Torrey Pines, Evans took over for Woodward back in Mesa. Woodward obviously liked what Evans was made of, because when the GCSAA Board started looking for a COO, Woodward dropped Evans’ name. The Board was looking for a COO, but more important, they were looking for the person to eventually take over for Woodward, and Woodward knew this.

And now that’s happened, albeit a lot faster than Woodward, Evans or the Board of Directors had planned.

But Evans is a leader. He’s also one of the most competitive people I know. Whether it’s golf, duck hunting or his Ironman triathlons he competes in, he likes to throw himself into projects full-bore. These qualities make for a CEO with a strong potential to succeed, and to lead the GCSAA into the future.

"We are excited to have Rhett Evans as our CEO," Jim Fitzroy, GCSAA’s current president, said in a press release from the association. "He has a track record of success everywhere he has been. He has experience in the golf industry, both on the facility level and from an organizational perspective. He has experience in managing a large staff and being accountable to a variety of constituents. And, he is a consensus builder. That will serve him well with GCSAA members and in the increasingly collaborative golf industry."

The truth is, Evans has seen a lot of blood on the walls during his short time at GCSAA. But he empathized with the staff while they were going through it. I can think back to my time at GCSAA during a particularly rough round of layoffs, and though I still disagree with some of the decisions made that day, Evans obviously didn’t take any of them lightly.

I don’t know who else was a candidate for the GCSAA CEO position. But honestly, the Board could have done a lot worse. By taking Evans, they know whom they’re getting. No one knew the last 18 months was really Evans’ try-out for immediately taking the GCSAA CEO position, but that’s what it ended up being.

Now, Evans can lead the GCSAA into the future. With the support of the membership, I think he’ll do a fine job.

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