The Evolution of the Clubhouse

The Royal and Ancient Clubhouse

Sitting majestically behind the first tee of the Old Course, the clubhouse of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club is perhaps the most famous building of its kind in the world, becoming one of the enduring global symbols of golf.

The building itself encapsulates over 150 years of history, during which it has grown upwards and outwards but, at its core, the original 1854 structure remains. As the membership of the Club expanded and its requirements changed, so too the building was enlarged or modified: eight building phases, carried out between 1854 and 2002, have brought the Clubhouse to its present state. Each architectural phase was designed to stay in sympathy with the previous one, allowing the building to retain its visual unity.

1854: The Clubhouse is Built
A deceptively simple H-shaped building designed by George Rae in a neo-classical style, the tall windows disguised the presence of an upper floor, not yet in use. The Clubhouse opened in 1854.

Viewed from the south-west
1854

1866: The Big Room Bay Window is Added
The recessed window partially obstructed the view of the links. The first bay window, which was designed by JL Fogo and built in 1866, increased the length of the room by some 12 feet.

Viewed from the south-west
1866

1873: The North Room is Built
Such was the popularity of billiards amongst the members that a new billiard room was added to the north side of the building. It was designed by Jesse Hall and David Henry in the same neo-classical style used by Rae.

Viewed from the north-east
1873

1882: The Southern Side is Altered
John Milne designed the striking southern façade, which is still seen to day as you drive down Golf Place. Originally built to accommodate a card room, two dressing rooms and a club storage area, the new first floor is now the dining room.

Viewed from the south-west
1882

1889: The Eastern Side is Altered
A new three-storey block, designed by James Gillespie, was built on the eastern side, mainly to provide additional accommodation for servants. The porch was also added in front of the main entrance on the south side.

Viewed from the south-west
1889

1899: The Western Side is Altered
Gillespie and his partner, James Scott, were responsible for one of the more dramatic changes. The two billiard rooms were moved up a floor and a new floor was added above the Big Room, creating the world-famous balcony overlooking the Old Course.

Viewed from the south-west
1899

1925: The North-Eastern Corner is Completed
Under the direction of Donald Mills, the north-eastern corner was raised to its current height in 1925.

Viewed from the north-east
1925

2002: A New Entrance is Built
As part of a major renovation of the locker room in the basement, a new entrance was built on the north side of the building to allow access to the locker room at basement level.

Viewed from the north
2002

If you walk around the Clubhouse, you can see where each building phase slotted into the existing structure and, if you look very carefully on the west side of the building, you can still see the remains of of two of the original George Rae windows.