|Headquarters||St Andrews, Fife, Scotland|
|Affiliations||United States Golf Association|
The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews is the oldest and most prestigious golf club in the world. It is based in St Andrews, Fife, Scotland, and is regarded as the worldwide "Home of Golf". Formerly, it was also one of the governing authorities of the game, but in 2004 this role was handed over to a newly formed group of companies, collectively known as The R&A.
The organisation was founded in 1754 as the Society of St Andrews Golfers, a local golf club playing at St Andrews Links, but quickly grew in importance. In 1834, King William IV became its patron and the club became known under its present name. In 1897, the Society codified the rules of golf, and, gradually over the next 30 years, was invited to take control of the running of golf tournaments at other courses.
The Royal and Ancient Golf Club (but not The R&A) had a male-only membership policy; in 2012, former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown called on the club to abandon this in favour of a non-discriminatory policy, as did Louise Richardson; the Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of St Andrews.
On 18 September 2014, the club voted in favour of admitting female members. In February 2015 the club's first female honorary members were announced – Anne, Princess Royal, Laura Davies, Renee Powell, Belle Robertson, Lally Segard, Annika Sörenstam and Louise Suggs. At that time the club also announced, "In addition to the honorary members, a number of women have been admitted as members of the club with more set to follow in the coming months." Also in 2015, Lady Bonallack became the first woman to take part in a match as a member of the club; specifically, she was the first woman to play in the club's annual match against the Links Trust.
The R&A is the ruling authority of golf throughout the world except in North America; the United States Golf Association (USGA) is the ruling authority of golf in the United States and Mexico, while Canada uses the rules of the R&A in addition to the USGA rules. It works in collaboration with national amateur and professional golf organisations in more than 110 countries.
The R&A cooperates with the USGA in producing and regularly revising the "Rules of Golf", and the two bodies have issued the rules jointly since 1952. The "Rules of Golf" are revised on a four-year cycle and with the revision that became effective on 1 January 2012 for the first time a single common set of Rules applied throughout the world.
The two bodies also collaborate on the corresponding rule interpretative work, "Decisions on the Rules of Golf", which is reviewed on a two-year cycle. Additionally, the R&A is involved in formulating technical specifications for golfing equipment. Steve Otto is the technical director at the R&A. The R&A is based in St Andrews, Fife, Scotland.
Committees of the R&A
- The Rules Committee
- The Course Management Committee
- The Championship Committee
- The Amateur Status Committee
- The Golf Development Committee
- The External Fund Committee
- The General Committee
- The Equipment Standards Committee
The R&A organises 21 championships and international matches. After the Ladies' Golf Union, the former governing body for women's golf in Great Britain and Ireland, merged into The R&A in late 2016, The R&A took over organisation of all events formerly under the auspices of the LGU.
- The Open Championship: one of the four major championships in men's golf.
- Women's British Open: one of the five major championships in women's golf. The 2017 edition was the first to be organised by the R&A.
- The Amateur Championship: which was one of the four major championships before the professional game became dominant and is still one of the most prestigious amateur tournaments in the world.
- Ladies' British Open Amateur Championship: one of the most prestigious women's amateur tournaments in the world.
- Ladies' British Open Amateur Stroke Play Championship: similar to the above, except conducted exclusively at stroke play.
- Boys Amateur Championship: for boys under the age of 18 at midnight on 1 January of the relevant year.
- The Girls' British Open Amateur Championship: for girls under the age of 18 at midnight on 1 January of the relevant year.
- Boys Home Internationals: a team competition for boys from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland, with the Irish team selected on an All-Ireland basis.
- Girls' Home Internationals: a team competition for girls from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland (also All-Ireland).
- Ladies' Home International: a team competition for women from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland (also All-Ireland).
- Ladies' Senior Home Internationals: a team competition for women aged 50 and above from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland (also All-Ireland).
- Coronation Foursomes: a team competition for women's club golfers in Great Britain & Ireland, open to any (female) member of an affiliated golf club with an official handicap of 36 or under.
- Seniors Open Amateur Championship: for male amateurs aged 55 or over on the first day of competition.
- Ladies' Senior British Open Amateur Championship: for female amateurs aged 50 or over on the first day of competition.
- Senior Open Championship: for men aged 50 and above. A major championship on PGA Tour Champions and the European Senior Tour.
- Walker Cup: a biennial men's amateur team competition contested by Great Britain & Ireland and the United States (co-organised with the United States Golf Association).
- Curtis Cup: a biennial women's amateur team competition contested by Great Britain & Ireland and the United States (also co-organised with the United States Golf Association).
- Junior Open Championship: for boys and girls under the age of 16 at 00.00 hours on 1 January of the relevant year.
- St Andrews Trophy: a biennial men's amateur team competition contested by Great Britain & Ireland and the Continent of Europe.
- Vagliano Trophy: a biennial women's amateur team competition contested by Great Britain & Ireland and the Continent of Europe.
- Jacques Léglise Trophy: an annual boys' amateur team competition contested by Great Britain & Ireland and the Continent of Europe. In years when the St Andrews Trophy is held, the Léglise Trophy is held in conjunction with it at the same venue.
- Junior Vagliano Trophy: a biennial girls' amateur team competition contested by Great Britain & Ireland and the Continent of Europe.
The R&A formerly organised the British Mid Amateur Championship for amateurs aged 25 and over. This tournament was introduced to provide an elite competition for golfers who never turn professional, as the main Amateur Championship is dominated by future professionals in their late teens and early twenties, but The R&A discontinued it after its 2007 edition. In 2016, the event was relaunched with the blessing of The R&A as a new event on the Mid Amateur Golf Tour, which began operation in 2011 as a Great Britain-only circuit for mid-amateur golfers, though with a lower age limit of 35 instead of 25.
The R&A is also involved in the organisation of the two World Amateur Team Championships – the Eisenhower Trophy for men and the Espirito Santo Trophy for women – through its role in the International Golf Federation.
The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews itself is now simply a golf club although membership is by invitation only. It has 2,400 members from all over the world. Although the clubhouse is situated just behind the first tee of the Old Course, the club does not own any of the St Andrews courses, despite the common misconception, and must share the tee times with members of other local clubs, residents and visitors alike. Responsibility for the management of the courses is undertaken by the St Andrews Links Trust, a charitable organization that owns and runs seven golf courses at St Andrews.
- "Pinehurst And St. Andrews Form Lasting Bond". Pinehurst Resort. 11 April 2005. Retrieved 27 August 2012.
- "Gordon Brown calls on R&A golf club to admit female members". The Guardian. 24 August 2012. Retrieved 25 August 2012.
- Crouse, Karen (11 July 2014). "In St. Andrews, a Heavy Knock on a Neighbor's Door". The New York Times.
- "Royal and Ancient Golf Club votes to accept women members". BBC News. 18 September 2014.
- "BBC Sport - Princess Royal among first women to join St Andrews". BBC Sport.
- Donnelly, Brian (12 May 2015). "First female takes part in golf match as R&A member". The Herald. Retrieved 12 May 2015.
- "The Rules of Golf 2012-2015", 32nd edition as approved and published by The R&A and United States Golf Association.
- "Decisions on the Rules of Golf 2012-2013", as approved and published by The R&A and the United States Golf Association.
Media related to The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews at Wikimedia Commons
- R&A website, including the Rules and Decisions of Golf
- Open Championship website
- The history of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews
- St. Andrews course images
- St Andrews Golf Blog - Information on golf in St Andrews and the surrounding area