Earlier today His Royal Highness The Duke of York, assumed the position of Captain of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews after driving himself into office at 8.00 am from the first tee of the Old Course, St Andrews.
He is the sixth member of the Royal Family to captain the Club. The others are:
“It is every golfer’s dream to play at St Andrews, he said, “It is an enormous privilege, an honour and a dream come true for me to be invited to become the Captain of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club, especially in this its 250th anniversary year. I hope that throughout my captaincy there will be an air of celebration for the game of golf – not only here in the United Kingdom – but throughout the golfing world. I look forward, as the sixth member of the Royal Family to Captain the Club, to making my contribution to the Club and to celebrating the game of golf.”
Steeped in tradition, the R&A captaincy dates back to 14th May 1754, when William Landale gained the title by winning the Challenge for the Silver Club. The Captaincy became elective around 1806, and the practice continues to this day, whereby each new Captain attaches a silver ball to the Club to mark his year in office. The exceptions are Royal Captains who, since 1863, have attached a gold ball.
The ceremonial drive from the first tee of the Old Course was established in 1863. Performed by John Whyte Melville on behalf of Edward, Prince of Wales, the single shot earns the incoming Captain the Queen Adelaide Medal, which is worn on official engagements. The symbolic drive is accompanied by the firing of a cannon.
Customary practice is to reward the local caddie for retrieving the Captain’s ball. Edward, Prince of Wales (later Edward VIII) was the first Captain to give a gold sovereign in 1922.
HRH The Duke of York became a member of the R&A in 1992 and served on the Amateur Status Committee from 1999 until 2003. He is the first member of the royal family to serve on an R&A committee. An enthusiastic golfer, he plays from a handicap of six.