Fact: Women Can and DO Play the Old Course in St. Andrews

Written by: Tony Korologos | Friday, March 28th, 2014
Categories: GolfMiscellaneous

Swilcan Bridge - Old Course at St. AndrewsThere is a lot of discussion and misinformation going around regarding the news that the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews is considering allowing women into their club for the first time in the club’s 260 year existence.  Many people are up in arms, complaining about the fact that women can’t play the Old Course.  Quite simply, those people don’t have their facts straight.  Here are some clarifications:

  • Women can and DO play the course all the time.  I’ve even played rounds there with a lady in the group.
  • The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews is one of many clubs in St. Andrews which are located near the Old Course.  It is a men-only club.  The Royal and Ancient Golf Club does NOT manage the Old Course, nor does it govern golf or golf’s rules.  It devolved of that responsibility in 2004 when the R&A was formed.
  • The R&A and the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews are not the same entity.
  • The R&A is the governing body for golf in much of the UK and western Europe.  It administers the (British) Open Championship and various other events.
  • The St. Andrews Links Trust manages the Old Course and other courses in St. Andrews.

From the R&A website at randa.org

The R&A

Formed in 2004 and based in St Andrews, The R&A seeks to engage in and support activities that are undertaken for the benefit of the game of golf and, despite deriving its name from the members’ club, is separate and distinct from The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews.

The R&A organises The Open Championship, golf’s oldest Major, along with a number of other amateur and junior events, some of which are sanctioned by other golfing bodies. In addition, The R&A assumes responsibility for the administration of the Rules of Golf with the consent of 143 organisations from the amateur and professional game, and on behalf of over 30 million golfers in 126 countries throughout Europe, Africa, Asia-Pacific and the Americas.

The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews

A major reorganisation in 2004, however, saw the Club devolve responsibility for these functions [the Rules, The Open and golf development] to a newly-formed group of companies, known as The R&A.

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 of no fixed abode into a club whose membership of around 2,500 extends worldwide.

From the late 19th century, the Club increasingly came to be regarded as a governing authority, both in the United Kingdom and abroad. Between 1897 and 2003 it developed three distinct areas of responsibility, namely the administration of the Rules of Golf in conjunction with the USGA, the running of The Open Championship and other key golfing events, and the development of the game in existing and emerging golfing nations.

A major reorganisation in 2004, however, saw the Club devolve responsibility for these functions to a newly-formed group of companies, known as The R&A.

Today, the Club has four objectives:

  • To be a members’ golf club, having a clubhouse with high-quality facilities and reasonable access to first-class golfing facilities for day-to-day play, including competitions and matches, and for two Meetings of the members to be held 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 the game of golf either directly or indirectly.

St Andrews Links Trust

St Andrews Links Trust is a charitable organisation (Scottish charity number SC006161) responsible for the management and maintenance of the Links courses at St Andrews, including the famous Old Course, host of the 2010 Open Championship. The Trust was established in 1974. It employs more than 300 permanent staff and seasonal workers during the high season.

The Old Course is at the heart of the Links but it is part of a family of six public courses, three of which are well over 100 years old. Around 200,000 rounds of golf a year are played on the Links with its three championship courses, the Old, the New and the Jubilee, two 18 hole courses, the Eden and the Strathtyrum, and the nine-hole Balgove Course.

The Trust manages a number of additional facilities including the Links, Eden and Castle Course clubhouses, the Golf Practice Centre and Golf Academy and five shops. Any revenues generated go back into the running of the historic courses.

A seventh course, The Castle Course, opened for play in 2008 on a site to the south-east of St Andrews and has already won several international awards. It was named alongside the Old, New and Jubilee courses in the prestigious Golf Digest Top 100 Courses ranking in its first year.

There it is in black and white.  Those who are mad because women cannot play the Old Course can calm down.  Step away from your social networks and non-fact-checked articles and relax.

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