The R&A has unveiled plans for a multi-million pound revamp of its iconic St Andrews clubhouse.
First reported by The Courier, the ambitious plans will more than treble the accommodation space in the building and, importantly, allow female members of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews to access facilities within it.
It wasn’t until September 2014 than women were first allowed to join the club. At present, they make use of a locker room at the nearby Forgan House.
The blueprint for the changes are based on a basement level extension to the north and south that will require excavating the ground beneath the existing car park.
It is thought that these plans will better position the property to cope with hosting top-level golf tournaments, not least The Open Championship, which is due to return to St Andrews in 2022.
The R&A reportedly considered relocating to new premises but ultimately decided that the current location was of too much significance – both historic and symbolic – to make the move.
A spokesperson for the R&A told The Courier: “In a review of existing R&A clubhouse facilities offered for the use of members, and their effectiveness in operation, it has been concluded that the existing golfing facilities need to be reconsidered to improve their nature and extent.
“It has been established that the clubhouse is more frequently used by members throughout the year than has been the case in the past and that the facilities are no longer adequate to cope with demand during the spring and autumn meetings hosted by the club.
“In addition, it is considered imperative that all members, including women members, can use golfing facilities located within the clubhouse.”
The R&A Clubhouse took 11 months to build between 1853 and 1854. The organisation’s website reports that “many St Andrews residents watched as Whyte Melville struck the foundation stone with a mallet and called for ‘The Great Architect of the Universe’ to shower down his blessing upon the work.”