14, 1754, twenty-two ‘Noblemen and Gentlemen’, listed
below, contributed to a
silver club to be played for annually over the Links of St Andrews. The
first winner was Baillie William Landale, a St Andrews' merchant, who became
Captain for the year. The competition was initially open to all golfers, as
had been that of the Leith golfers in 1744, whose
rules the St Andrews' golfers used almost without change. Thus began the
foremost club in both Scottish golf history and world golf in general.
Hon. Earl of Elgin and Kincardine
The Right Hon. James Earl of Wemyss
The Hon. Thomas Leslie
The Hon. James Leslie
The Hon. Francis Cherteris
Sir James Wymess, Baronet
Sir Robert Henderson, Baronet
Lieut.-General James St. Clair
David Scot of Scotstarvet
James Oswald of Dunnikier
Mr. David Young, Professor of Philosophy
James Lumsdain Esq., Provost of St Andrews
James Wemyss of Weemysshall
Walter Wemyss of Lathockar
John Bethune of Blebo
Henry Bethune of Clato
Thomas Spens the Younger of Lathallan
James Cheap of Sauchie
Arthur Martin of Milntoun
Maurice Trent of Pitcullo
Robert Douglas, Esq.
Mr. John Young, Professor of Philosophy
On 4th May, 1766, the Society initiated regular
play, with a decision to meet fortnightly at 11am at the Golf House, and to
dine after the round at Bailie Glass’, for which they would each pay a
Shilling, ‘the absent as well as the present’. (There were twenty shillings
to a Scottish pound.) Like other clubs, they
also used other taverns. On 28th May, 1773 the St Andrews golfers limited
their annual competition to members of their own club, and those of the
‘Leith Society’, known today as The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers.
It marks a close association that these two clubs have had to this day. For
example, William St Clair of Roslin, who organised the
creation of eighteen holes at St Andrews in 1764, also
laid the foundation stone for the Leith clubhouse in 1768.
He was also Captain of both clubs four times.
One of the great traditions of the R&A
is to retain the fiction of a competition to select
their captain. The Captain is selected
and then entered in a competition in which he is the sole competitor and is
declared the winner after his first drive from the first tee. The caddie
who collects the ball is
rewarded with a sovereign. This is called ‘playing
in’. According to legend, all
Captains have been played in this way, excepting only General Eisenhower
in 1946 who
refused to play from the first tee, in the light of the
safety issues created by the enormous crowd that
had gathered in his honour.
According to the Club Minutes on 7th September 1810, the Society authorised the Secretary “to employ
tradesman to repair the Golfers’ Bridge on the Links, which is at present
almost impassable, and to pay the expense thereof”. This
was presumably the Swilcan Bridge below.
In 1834, King William IV agreed to become the Patron
of the Club and the Society of St Andrews Golfers became The Royal and
Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews. This was the second Royal accolade after
Royal Perth Golf Club
which received its title the year before.
The present clubhouse, seen above over the Swilcan
Bridge, was begun in 1854, and has been augmented several times since.
Also in 1854, the Society began their merger with the Union Club of which
Sir Hugh Lyon Playfair, who had recently returned from India, was a founding member.
Sir Hugh went on to be Captain of the R&A 1856-57 and is credited with
the creation of the double holes in the greens on the Old
Course, which greatly assisted the flow of play
and created a true 18 hole golf course.
In 1897, the Royal and Ancient were given sole
control of the Rules of Golf Committee, a job which they
have discharged for all areas outside of USA and Mexico ever since.
Alone among the oldest ten clubs, the R&A have always played over the same
course, the Old Course at St Andrews, and also, unlike these other clubs,
they do not own their own course(s). The R&A built the New Course in 1895,
and paid for the maintenance of both the Old and New courses until the early
1950s, but handed these over to the St Andrews Links Trust as part of the
very complicated and protracted arrangements that were reached on the rights
of playing the courses for club members and local residents alike. This
involved legal challenges and several Acts of Parliament,
as the land was common land fur the benefit of
the populace in general whose conflicting
interests had to be resolved.
Official website of the Royal and Ancient Golf
Club of St Andrews
More details of
early golf at St Andrews
Accommodation at St Andrews
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