The R&A is moving. But traditionalists needn’t worry. Golf’s governing body everywhere outside the United States and Mexico isn’t leaving St. Andrews, but rather consolidating its offices into a new building. Instead of the current situation where staff works in as many as five buildings in and around the iconic Royal & Ancient clubhouse, as well as the equipment testing center at nearby Kingsbarns, the majority will spend their working days just outside the town in a new facility expected to open in early 2026.
R&A officials announced on Tuesday the acquisition of land for an undisclosed sum in a mixed-use development called “St. Andrews West,” roughly a mile southwest of the R&A clubhouse. The area is already home to the new Madras College and has land allocated for university and employment uses with planning in principle from Fife Council.
Currently, R&A media staff is working out of offices above the St. Rule building to the right of the 18th fairway of the Old Course. Rules and handicapping officials are in the former Ladies Golf Union building on the Scores behind the R&A clubhouse. And a few other departments are to be found in Beach House and Forgan House behind and to the immediate right of the 18th green.
According to a release to the local media, “the acquisition will give the R&A the opportunity to begin developing plans for the new building and to establish a project timescale.” The governing body will continue to be headquartered in the R&A clubhouse while the new development “will enable the R&A to create a purpose-built modern base to house most of its staff and consolidate its operations.” The future building is expected to hold 75 percent of R&A employees.
In a further release to R&A members, club secretary and R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers said, “a number of options were considered and when this land became available, most importantly it met the criteria of being firmly in St. Andrews, within sight of the Links and with the opportunity to create purpose-built facilities that reflect our role in golf.”
Slumbers said that design work and the planning process should be completed by mid-2024 with an anticipated build time of 18 months.
“This is an exciting development for the future of the organization,” Slumbers said. “We will create a location that will showcase the work of the R&A, reflect our status, our heritage and be a collaborative space that employees and visitors will enjoy. We want to become known throughout the world as a distinctive destination for our affiliates and partners, effectively the hub of the R&A’s global work to ensure golf is thriving 50 years from now. The clubhouse will of course retain its own iconic status in golf.”
Indeed, other work has also begun on an extension to the R&A clubhouse itself. The project will see the locker room in the basement of the building extended under the adjacent club parking lot and to the north of the building to provide enhanced changing and shower facilities for all members as well as other enhancements of services available to the club’s membership.
The work is scheduled to be completed by the beginning of 2024 and will result in some changes to public access in the area around the clubhouse during the period of construction. In addition, the clubhouse will be closed while the work is carried out and members will use the nearby Forgan House.