Sport - Golf - Neil Donaldson
Neil Donaldson drives in as the new Captain of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews Image Credit: The R&A

St. Andrews, Scotland - The traditional driving-in ceremony for the new Captain, Neil Donaldson, of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews took place on the 1st tee of the Old Course on Friday morning.

As Captain of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, Mr Donaldson will serve in an ambassadorial role for The R&A to support its work in developing golf around the world and will attend its professional and amateur championships.

At precisely 8am local time, a cannon fired alongside the tee box while Mr Donaldson struck his drive down the first fairway with on looking crowed which included Past Captains of the Club watched the ceremony.

Honoured to serve as Captain

“It is quite an experience to hit a drive from the first tee of the Old Course with so many people watching. I must admit to feeling a little nervous but I really enjoyed it and was pleased to hit a decent shot.

“It is very special to have so many of my family and friends here as well as past Captains of the club, my fellow members and people of the town.

“I am honoured to serve as Captain of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club and proud to be an ambassador for the club and for The R&A as it carries out its responsibilities to the game around the world.”

Born in Perth and raised in Fife, a successful businessman for more than 45 years, Mr Donaldson has enjoyed a long career in the timber industry and served in senior executive and non-executive roles in a number of companies. He is currently President of the James Donaldson Group, one of Scotland’s largest privately owned and family run companies.

In the past, the Club Captaincy was bestowed on the winner of the annual Challenge for the Silver Club but by the early 19th Century the Captaincy had become an elected office. Part of the tradition is that the new Captain buys his golf ball back from the caddie who retrieves and returns it with a gold sovereign. This year saw the presentation of the first sovereign to bear the head of His Majesty King Charles III.

Sport - Golf - Neil Donaldson
Neil Donaldson, the new Captain of The Royal and Ancient Golf of St Andrews, presents a Gold Sovereign to caddie Anthony Clark Image Credit: The R&A

Anthony Clark, who has caddied at the links since 2015, successfully returned the ball to Mr Donaldson.

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 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.