The Chief Executive's Office
Chief Executive’s Office
It is hard not to feel a profound sense of history when walking into the room that is the centre of the administrative activities of both The R&A and The Royal and Ancient Golf Club. Not only is it the office of the Chief Executive of The R&A and the Secretary of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club, it is also the room where the major committee and board of directors’ meetings of The R&A and the Club. It is a room steeped in history and a room where the future is planned.
One is tempted to think of the past secretaries overseeing the work of the Club in this magnificent room, but it would be a distortion of the truth. When the room was built in 1899, it was designed as a card room. It did not become the Secretary’s office until 1956, so only four Secretaries – Brigadier Eric Brickman, Keith Mackenzie, Sir Michael Bonallack and Peter Dawson, have occupied it.
There was a need for an office when the Club decided to appoint a full time Secretary in 1899. A room, roughly in the location of the current Clubhouse Manager’s office, was used by Colonel R Eliott Lockhart, Frederick Westley, Thomas Law and Henry Gullen. Gullen, in turn, became the first occupant of the new office, completed in 1925. JAS Carson and Brickman then used that office until 1956.
View from the Balcony
One of the finest views in the world of golf can be seen from the balcony outside the Chief Executive’s office.
Looking towards the west façade from the course, you may notice that the bay window supporting the balcony looks newer than the rest of the building.
The first bay window was added to the clubhouse in 1866 and was very different to what you see today. Topped with a flat roof, the stonework around the bay window was decorated with a Greek key pattern. During the 1882 building project, the bay window was completely redesigned: the Greek key pattern disappeared and a pitched roof was added.
The balcony was built above the bay window when the room – then used for playing cards – was added in 1899. Over the next 96 years, the west façade of the Clubhouse became one of the most frequently reproduced images in golf.
However, a problem was to emerge. In January 1995, a minor refurbishment to the bay window revealed two major faults. The mild steel clamps used during one of the 19th century building phases had rusted away and the lintels had cracked, meaning that there was nothing holding the bay window to the rest of the building and the weight of the balcony was being supported only by the window frames, which had rotted and needed replacing.
There was no option but to rebuild the whole bay window, which was done as a faithful replica of the 1899 window. The work was completed in time for the 1995 Open Championship.