Alistair Low began his year of office as the Captain of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews with the traditional driving-in ceremony on the first tee of the Old Course. Accompanied by simultaneous cannon fire, Low teed-off at precisely 8am under a cloudless sky in front of a large crowd, hitting an impressive high fade down the first fairway.
His position as Captain of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club will see him travel the globe representing the Club and the game of golf.
Speaking shortly after hitting his shot, Low said: “I was pretty nervous I must say. It all got to me in the last couple of minutes but I think it was an alright shot. I kept it on the golf course at least.
“I will be an ambassador for the club, flying all over the world and I will be in attendance at all of the major championships run by The R&A. I’ve always enjoyed coming here so I am particularly looking forward to spending more time in St Andrews.”
A member of the Club since 1968, Low brings considerable experience to his new role having chaired the Championship Committee from 1985 to 1988. He was subsequently Chairman of the General Committee between 1991 and 1994 and was also Chairman of the Scottish Golf Union from 2002 to 2008.
An accomplished amateur golfer – he currently plays to a handicap of five – Low won the British Youths Championship in 1963 and was a Scottish Amateur Championship semi-finalist in 1964, 1968 and 1970.
A retired actuary and graduate of St Andrews University, Low lives in Gullane, East Lothian, and is a member of both Gullane and The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, where he is the immediate past captain.
The Club’s ‘Captain of the Golf’ was originally determined by the annual Challenge for the Silver Club with the best player on the day becoming Captain for the year. However, by around 1806 the Captaincy had become an elected office and the Challenge became a symbolic competition.
One tradition that has endured is the awarding of a gold sovereign to the caddie that successfully retrieves the ball and returns it to the captain. Oliver Horowitz, now in his sixth season on the links, successfully returned the ball after attempting to catch it on the full.
The delighted 25-year-old filmmaker from New York, who will caddy for musician Huey Lewis at next week’s Dunhill Championship, said: “When he hit it I was way over on the left and I suddenly realised he had hit a bit of a cut and it was going right. I saw it in mid-air, caught it with my left hand on the fly but dropped it.
“So my hand is now throbbing as we speak and will be black and blue tonight but it’s definitely worth it.”
The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews holds a unique position in golf. Established in 1754, it evolved through two and a half centuries as a leading authority in the world game.
As the Club celebrated its 250th anniversary in 2004 it devolved responsibility for the administration of the Rules of Golf, the running of The Open Championship and other key events, and the development of the game in existing and emerging golfing nations, to a newly formed group of companies collectively known as The R&A.
As a separate entity the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews remains as a private golf club with a world-wide membership of 2,400.