2010 at The R&A
In 2010, the sporting world’s focus once again fell on St Andrews, as The Open Championship celebrated its 150th Anniversary at the Home of Golf. And months of preparation by over 65 St Andrews Links Trust greenkeeping staff had ensured that the game’s most famous course would be presented to the world’s best golfers as immaculately as it had been at any of its 27 previous Opens.
Difficult conditions characterised the week, from both competitor’s and organisers’ points of view. High winds halted play on the Friday, two days after heavy rain had forced the cancellation of The Open Champions’ Challenge. But Past Champions were present, nevertheless, to watch a young South African, Louis Oosthuizen, claim as dominant and impressive a victory as any before him.
12 strokes behind Oosthuizen, Silver Medallist Jin Jeong, one of three Korean amateurs at St Andrews, had produced a professional performance to finish in tied-14th place. Just one month earlier at another Open venue, Muirfield, he had become the first Asian winner of the Amateur Championship. Incredibly, his first taste of links golf had come in May.
Jeong’s was not the only Asian success on Scottish links in 2010. At Lundin Golf Club, Japan’s Kenta Konishi won the Junior Open Championship, following in the footsteps of the 2008 Champion, Moriya Jutanugarn. Back on home soil in October, he would go on to finish 12th at the second Asian Amateur Championship.
It was another Japanese teenager, Hideki Matsuyama, who took the title, earning an invitation to the 2011 Masters Tournament, as well as a place in Open Championship International Final Qualifying. An initiative developed by The R&A, the Masters Tournament and the Asia-Pacific Golf Confederation, the Asian Amateur Championship has, in two short years, become one of the amateur games most high-profile events.
Joining Matsuyama at Augusta National will be reigning US Amateur Champion Peter Uihlein, winner of The R&A’s 2010 Mark H McCormack Medal for the player occupying the top of the World Amateur Golf Ranking at the culmination of the amateur season. Uihlein took over from Jeong as number one in August, becoming the latest in a list that includes Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler, both of whom excelled this year, particularly when competing for their respective teams at October’s Ryder Cup.
In September, the number of players ranked in The R&A’s World Amateur Golf Ranking passed the 5000 mark, and the number of Counting Events now exceeds 1500 worldwide. Since its introduction in 2007, the Ranking has been used to determine the fields at national amateur championships in Britain, Spain and Portugal, as well as at many other major events in numerous different countries.
Another notable milestone was reached in May with R&A funding of the Ladies European Tour passing £1,000,000. Since 1994, The R&A has provided funding for the Tour on an annual basis, with the contribution increasing year on year. As part of the ongoing cooperation between the two bodies, the women’s champion at The R&A Foundation Scholars Tournament receives a starting place at a Tour event.
The Foundation Scholarship Programme, which aims to assist talented amateurs to develop their competitive golf while in higher education, continued to produce results, with two Scholars, Danielle McVeigh and Pamela Pretswell, securing places on the Great Britain and Ireland Curtis Cup team.
The Greenkeeping Scholarship programme, meanwhile, expanded to offer assistance to students taking exclusively internet-based courses in golf course management, greenkeeping and sports turf management; opening up the possibility of a scholarship to those in full-time employment, or living internationally.
In 2010, new greenkeeping machinery was sent out to more countries than ever before. Golf courses in 33 countries, including Fiji, Nepal and Cote d’Ivoire, received both gang and greens mowers as part of an initiative that has, since 2002, distributed equipment worth over £1.1 million.
After a year spent educating and officiating in countries as far afield as Costa Rica, Japan, Kenya and Columbia, the Rules Department now turn to the Quadrennial Rules Conference, which will take place in January ahead of the publication of the 32nd Edition of the Rules of Golf in 2012.
Strides were made in the ways that golfers can consume the Rules with the development a free iPhone App that has been downloaded over 90,000 times, as well as an online Rules Explorer, which allows a user to browse Rules and related Decisions in an easy and efficient manner.