The R&A has appointed Martin Slumbers as chief executive from 1 October 2015 to succeed the retiring Peter Dawson.
Slumbers, 54, will also become secretary of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews.
The R&A, which organises The Open Championship, jointly governs world golf with the United States Golf Association.
Slumbers has spent much of his career in finance but plays off a handicap of two at his local club in Surrey.
"Golf has always been close to my heart, and I am very much looking forward to living and working in St Andrews," he said.
The R&A was set up as the business arm of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club in 2004.
The Royal and Ancient Golf Club recently passed a vote to accept women members for the first time in its 260-year-history.