Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) President James R. Fitzroy, CGCS, announced today that J. Rhett Evans has been selected as the organization’s chief executive officer.
Evans, who has served as interim CEO since late June of 2010, came to GCSAA in July 2009 as chief operating officer. Prior to joining GCSAA, he was the director of the parks, recreation and commercial facilities division for the Phoenix suburb of Mesa, Ariz., (population 490,000). He was elevated to that position in 2005, after serving as that city’s convention center and amphitheatre director beginning in 2001.
“We are excited to have Rhett Evans as our CEO,” Fitzroy said. “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.”
While in Mesa, Evans managed all program areas including the convention center and amphitheatre; spring training baseball complex (Chicago Cubs); cemetery; recreation and aquatic complexes; and 2,600 acres of park space. Also under his watch were the operations of Dobson Ranch and Riverview golf courses. He oversaw a budget of $32.5 million and a $28 million capital budget.
In his tenure at GCSAA, he exhibited solid leadership in implementing cost saving measures through more advantageous contracts in the areas of technology and convention and travel services; implementing headquarters building operational efficiencies; and staff reorganization. At the same time, GCSAA has improved member service through the creation of a member savings program; automated membership, registration and donation processes; new communications vehicles; an improved online job board; and the expansion of the field staff program.
“I am honored and humbled to be a part of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America. It is a tremendous organization whose members play a vital role in the game. I have the utmost respect for their skill, dedication and integrity that goes into making the sport challenging, yet enjoyable,” Evans said. “I appreciate the trust the board has in me and the support staff provided in this transition.
“Success comes through dedication and teamwork. I am excited to work with a team that includes the members, industry partners, allied associations, staff and other constituents to make GCSAA the best it can be and to strengthen the golf industry so it can ensure the vitality of this great sport.”
Fitzroy said the CEO selection process was deliberate because of the changing environment of the golf industry that saw rapid growth until the mid-2000s. That process included a board strategic planning session and extensive environmental scan of the industry, the utilization of an executive search firm, consultation with industry leaders and feedback from members. He said the recurring theme was GCSAA’s need to provide support for members and their facilities who were being asked to do more with less.
“We had many outstanding candidates and great input and feedback,” Fitzroy said. “When we applied our criteria, talked with references and looked at past performance, Rhett Evans’ name consistently rose to the top.”
As GCSAA CEO, Evans also assumes the duties of chief executive officer for its philanthropic organization, The Environmental Institute for Golf.
Fitzroy indicated GCSAA will conduct a search to fill the chief operating officer position created by Evans’ promotion, although no timetable or job description has been established.
Evans earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology with an emphasis in business, and a master’s degree in recreation management and leadership with an emphasis in public administration from Brigham Young University. He is also a graduate of the Public Assembly Facility Management School. He has experience in facility and events management, working as the director of the McKay Events Center in Orem, Utah from 1997-2001, and director of operations at the Delta Center (home of the NBA’s Utah Jazz) and Franklin Quest Field in Salt Lake City for the five years prior to that.
Evans, born Sept. 29, 1968, is a native of Prescott, Ariz. He and his wife Colleen, reside in Lawrence, Kan., with their daughter Caitlyn and son Seth.