New Captain Drives In

The new Captain of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews took up his new position today at the traditional driving-in ceremony on the 1st tee of the Old Course.

Sandy Dawson is only the second Australian to Captain the Club after Viscount Bruce of Melbourne served in the position in 1954. He succeeds Frenchman, Pierre Bechmann.

Mr Dawson teed off at precisely 8am in front of a large crowd of onlookers as a cannon fired alongside the tee. His drive went down the middle and finished around 40 yards short of the Swilcan Burn.

“I had a few warm-ups down on the range with Jim Farmer, The R&A professional, so I was more relaxed than I might have been if I had come in cold,” he said.

“It’s very exciting to be the second Australian Captain. It’s 60 years since there was an Australian Captain in Viscount Bruce so it’s great that there is another Australian. My family are all here watching. I think they are very proud and happy and relieved that I hit the ball down the middle.”

As Captain, Mr Dawson will represent The R&A and support its work in developing golf around the world. He will attend R&A Championships in the professional and amateur games and assume an ambassadorial role for the Club.

Born in 1943, Sandy Dawson is a former Australian Universities Golf Champion and, from 1988 to 1993, he was Captain of Royal Sydney Golf Club where he has been Club President since 2010.

A former Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Arnott’s, one of the largest food companies in the Asia Pacific region, he has held senior positions at a number of other companies.  He was chairman of United Distillers (Australasia) and a director of Allied Mills, Goodman Fielder and the Darling Harbour Authority.

Mr Dawson lives in Sydney with his wife Jane and has three children and nine grandchildren. He plays to a handicap of four and is also a keen skier. He has been a Member of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews since 1974.

In the past, the Club Captaincy was bestowed on the winner of the annual Challenge for the Silver Club but by the early 19th Century the Captaincy had become an elected office.

Part of the tradition is that a gold sovereign is paid by the new Captain to buy his golf ball back from the caddie who successfully retrieves and returns it.

This year’s recipient of the sovereign was Alan Tulleth. The 21-year-old from St Andrews said, “I have been a caddie here for three years but this is the first time I have done the driving-in. I was actually videoing the ceremony when I saw the ball coming in so I had to stop and was able to slide in to get it. It’s a proud moment for the new Captain and for all of the caddies taking part in it.