The Royal and Ancient
Golf Club of St Andrews


The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews was founded on 14 May 1754, with the first Challenge for the Silver Club. Evolving over 250 colourful years of British history, it has grown from a small society into a club with 2,500 members worldwide.

The Royal and Ancient Clubhouse, situated behind the 1st tee of the famed Old Course, is an iconic building, recognisable to golfers worldwide. From the late 19th century, the Club increasingly came to be regarded as a governing authority, both in the UK and abroad. Between 1897 and 2003 it developed three distinct areas of responsibility – the administration of the Rules of Golf in conjunction with the USGA, the running of The Open and other key golfing events, and the development of the game in existing and emerging golfing nations. In 2004, a major reorganisation saw the Club devolve responsibility for these functions to a newly-formed Group of Companies, known as The R&A, to separate Group and Club affairs.

Today, the Club has five objectives:

  • To be a members’ golf club, having a clubhouse with high-quality facilities and access to first-class golfing facilities for play, including competitions and matches, and for two Meetings of the members in the Spring and Autumn.
  • To maintain the position of St Andrews as the home of golf and to assist the Trustees and the Management Committee of the St Andrews Links Trust in the development of appropriate golfing facilities.
  • To provide temporary accommodation for members of the Club and others.
  • To acquire and preserve records and artefacts relating to the history of golf, either directly or indirectly.
  • To contribute through its members to the work of The R&A in its Governance, Championship and Golf Development roles.

The Captain

Each year, the Club announces a new Captain, and the year-long tenure in office begins with the traditional Driving-in ceremony on the 1st tee of the Old Course.


The office of Captain was a duty that was awarded to the winner of the Challenge for the Silver Club. Possibly around 1806, with the introduction of the Gold Medal, the Captaincy became an elected office and the Challenge for the Silver Club became a symbolic, rather than a real competition. The ceremony involving a single drive into office may date back to 1863, when Edward, Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII), was Captain. Unable to attend the Autumn Meeting, it is likely that it was introduced to add a sense of ceremony to the occasion. Every Captain since has hit a single shot from the first tee of the Old Course, thus gaining the Silver Club and the Queen Adelaide Medal. The history of the Medal dates to when King William IV died in 1837 and his widow, Queen Adelaide, agreed to become Patroness of the Club. In 1838 she presented a medal to “be called the Royal Adelaide Medal and be worn in compliance with Her Majesty’s wishes by the Captain of the Club at all meetings”. The first Captain to receive the medal was Onesipherous Tyndall Bruce, who was also the first English Captain of the Club. From 1853, the Queen Adelaide Medal was awarded to the Captain when he drove into office with his symbolic, single stroke. Over the years, the responsibilities of the Captain have increased and, in modern times, the role has expanded to that of ambassador for the game and a figurehead for the Club’s worldwide membership.

Heritage

World Golf Museum

The R&A World Golf Museum in St Andrews is open to visitors all year round. Beginning as a cabinet of curiosities in the 1800s and known as the British Golf Museum for the past 30 years, it then entered a new era in 2021 as The R&A World Golf Museum. Situated opposite The Royal and Ancient Clubhouse, visitors can explore the rich history of golf from its very beginnings up until the modern day.