The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews

History of the Club House

Members of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews led a nomadic existence for exactly 100 years after the formation of their original society in 1754. In common with most sporting societies of the age they held their business meetings and social gatherings in local taverns, typically those in St Andrews run by William Duncan or Baillie Glass.

The minutes of the club record that in 1766 members were instructed “to meet once every fortnight by eleven of the clock at the Golf House and to play a round on the links. To dine together at Baillie Glass’s and to pay each a shilling for his dinner - the absent as well as the present”.

In 1835 the Union Club was formed and a small and rather primitive clubhouse known as the Union Parlour was opened in Golf Place . Golfers and archers paid five shillings a year to store their equipment.

A commanding site behind the first tee of the Old Course had been obtained many years earlier, but it was not until July 13, 1853, that the necessary funds were raised and the foundation stone for a purpose built clubhouse for The Royal and Ancient Golf Club and Union Club members was laid by former captain John Whyte-Melville.

In June the following year the imposing sandstone building was ready for occupation. Built to a basic H-shape design, the style was simple and uncluttered with tall windows under a low-pitched roof. Members of both clubs shared the premises and the two bodies were officially amalgamated under the Royal and Ancient title in 1877.

Within two years plans were being drawn up to expand the new clubhouse and over the next 70 years a succession of six architects added developments which took the building upwards and outwards to finally create the structure which is now instantly recognised throughout the world of golf.

Although very few signs of the original building are visible, it still exists within the framework of today’s clubhouse, cocooned within the layers of subsequent development.

With the clubhouse reaching capacity, new premises were found for the Championship and Rules offices in Golf Place, very close to the site of the old Union Parlour. The conversion of the former Forgan golf factory, overlooking the final green of the Old Course, provides further office and conference facilities.

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