The St. Andrews Golf Club, more widely known as ‘The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews’, is among the oldest golf clubs in the world. Located in St. Andrews in Scotland, and regarded as the ‘Home of Golf’, it was founded in 1754, on the 14th of May. It was initially known as the ‘Society of St. Andrews Golfers’ and was a local golf club. The patronage of King William IV, granted to the club in 1834, sparked worldwide fame and created an association with the English monarchy. With a 250 year heritage to its name, the St Andrews Club at present holds 2,500 members across the globe.
Until recently, the Club held authority over tournaments and courses in the golfing community. It then reorganised and handed over its responsibilities to the ‘R & A’. Some of the Club’s controlling areas included the administration of Golf Rules, organising the ‘Open’ and spreading and developing golfing glory in other countries involved in the sport.
The St Andrews Club maintained a male-only policy on its members as recently as 2014. It was in February 2015 that the club admitted its first ever female golfers. Some of the honorary members of the Club are ‘Princess Anne’, ‘Renee Powell’ and ‘Belle Robertson’. ‘Lady Bonallack’ is the first female member of the Club to participate in a match.
The club captaincy is awarded to the winner of the ‘Silver Club Challenge’ and is then awarded the ‘Queen Adelaide Medal’ as well. To obtain these awards the captain had to manage the ‘single shot’ stroked from the Old Course’s first tee.
According to tradition, a silver ball was passed down from captain to captain. It changed to a gold ball during King Edward VII’s captaincy, who was then the ‘Prince of Wales’. Every captain after that has passed over a golden ball. So far, six members, of the British Royal family have maintained the captaincy of the club. ‘King Edward VII’ held the position in 1863, ‘Prince Leopold’ in 1876, ‘King Edward VIII’ in 1992, ‘King George VI’ in 1930, ‘The Duke of Kent’ in 1937 and ‘The Duke of York Prince Andrew’ in 2004.
The other St Andrews Club medals, apart from the ‘Silver Club’ trophy, are the ‘Gold Medal’ and the ‘Royal Medal’. Offered to the best player in the club is the ‘Gold Medal’ introduced in 1806. There are at present six such medals. The ‘Royal Medal’ is awarded annually, established under the patronage of ‘King William IV’. Although the two medals had their individual games till 1839, in the subsequent years there has been one game, with the ‘Royal Medal’ awarded to the best player and the ‘Gold Medal’ to the second best.
The members of St Andrews Club can participate in many championship competitions which include, ‘The Open’, ‘The Amateur’, ‘Boys Amateur’, ‘Seniors Amateur and Boys Home Internationals’. Other notable events include ‘Jacques Leglise’, ‘Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship’, ‘St Andrews Trophy’, ‘Latin American Amateur Championship’, ‘Walker Cup’, ‘World Amateur Team Championship’ and ‘Senior Open’.