October 30, 2019

Leading a Vital National Association, with Rhett Evans

Episode 11:

J. Rhett Evans is the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America’s (GCSAA) CEO. Evans joined GCSAA in July 2009 as their COO and was promoted to CEO in January 2011. He is the eighth CEO since the association’s founding in 1926.

Evans is focused on expanding GCSAA’s reach and influence to become the global leader in golf course management. Under Evans, GCSAA has elevated the superintendents’ and industry’s voices through advocacy efforts at the national and grassroots levels. In addition, through Evans’ leadership of GCSAA and its philanthropic organization, the Environmental Institute for Golf, the discussion of sustainability has progressed from theory to action at golf facilities at the state and facility level. GCSAA is spearheading the development of centralized best management practices.

GCSAA’s enhancement of the vitality of the game of golf has been strengthened through Evans’ work with allied and industry organizations. Evans was instrumental in helping establish We Are Golf (WAG), a coalition of golf’s leading organizations working together to communicate the game’s economic, charitable, and environmental benefits to congressional leaders and local lawmakers. He served two terms as chairman of the board and is currently serving on the executive board of WAG as well as serving on the executive board for Golf 20/20. Evans represents the association and profession on the Golf Channel, Sirius XM Radio, and other national media outlets.

Evans is a native of Prescott, Arizona. He and his wife, Colleen, have a daughter, Caite, and son, Seth. Evans is a four-time Ironman Triathlon finisher and an active adventurist.

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • How Rhett’s career path led him to the role of CEO for the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America
  • What key role the GCSAA plays in professional and amateur golf, and why culture has been a key component of the GCSAA’s success
  • What cultural changes Rhett made after stepping into his role to improve communication and to better serve the GCSAA’s members
  • How Rhett works to ensure that everyone in the GCSAA is moving toward the same goals and vision to support the sport of golf
  • How the GCSAA’s “Grassroots Ambassador” program is forging relationships between GCSAA members and members of the U.S. Congress
  • What changes Rhett is seeing within the sport of golf, including environmental challenges as well as positive changes like an increase in girls taking up the sport
  • What unexpected challenges and opportunities Rhett found when transitioning from COO of the GCSAA to the role of CEO
  • Rhett discusses his interest in mountain climbing and his experience of climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro and other summits
  • Why Rhett believes it is important to continue pushing yourself, breaking out of your comfort zone, and tackling new challenges
  • How the GCSAA tracks member engagement and how they’re working to increase engagement throughout the organization

Additional resources: