The British Golf Museum. St. Andrews. Scotland.
The area around the R&A clubhouse at the Old course in St. Andrews is pretty special. As the links breeze freshens your face there is plenty to see. From the spectacular clubhouse, the beautiful Old Course, Tom Morris's old shop, the beach used for Chariots of Fire most famous scene and the Old Course 5* hotel in the distance. With Open Championship in town the place is a hive of activity.
This will be my second visit to the British Golf Museum in St. Andrews. It has been closed for renovation in preparation for the Open. As I was in town for the Open I felt like I had to pay a visit to see the changes. Given that the museum was offering all ticket holders free entry..well it would be rude not to take up the kind offer.
Since my last visit, a brand new cafe has opened on top of the museum. I immediately headed upstairs to see it. Large, spacious, and welcoming. You can easily imagine the beautiful scenes from up here once the Open has left town. As it is I can see all the hustle and bustle of a Major Championship. Once it has gone it will be replaced with stunning views of the Old Course as tourists prepare their opening tee shots. I was relaxed in the atmosphere of the new cafe. As I was drinking my tea I was thinking about what a wonderful idea it was to build this extension, not only for the holiday makers but also for the locals of St. Andrews.
Relaxed and refreshed I made my way downstairs and entered the museum. I was welcomed by a large screen showing the great Tom Watson talking about his Open memories. A small collection of Watson's memorabilia echoed his achievements in what would be his final Open Championship. This was a tribute to one of the finest golfers ever to grace to Old Course. This was a beautiful way, not only for the museum to pay a personal tribute to Watson, but also to remind the visitor that Golf history will continue to be made.
The museum deals with a number of themes of Golfing history and much is similar to my last visit. The first part focuses on the early history of golf and it's royal connections with Scotland's Kings and Queens. Mary Queen of Scots herself being a avid golfer in the games early days.
One particular highlight of the museum is the representation of St. Andrews famous sons, Allen Robertson and Tom Morris. The museum has a mock up interpretation of Robertson in his shop making featherette golf balls. Using a top hat full of goose feathers as the core of the ball wrapped in stitched leather, Robertson would spend hours making these pioneering balls. There are early examples of these balls on display along with the golf balls evolution over time to our own modern ball. It is easy to underestimate the history of our humble golf ball but it was fascinating. There are also fantastic examples of the golf club evolution over time.
In the Mid Victorian section of the Museum we shift our focus to the first Open and pioneering players of that time. A large portrait of the great Tom Morris is on show. He stands on the great links of St. Andrews. A pioneer in the manufacture of early Golf balls, the keeper of the greens of St. Andrews and Prestwick, golf course designer and Open Champion. His importance to the history of Golf should not be underestimated.
Long before the Claret Jug became the trophy of the Open Championship, the trophy was the Championship belt. A replica is displayed along with Tom Morris and Tom Morris Jr memorabilia including scorecards. Tom Morris Jr kept the belt following his third victory in a row which meant that a new trophy had to be created.
Another fantastic display complete with artifacts and portrait was that of Golf's grand slam winner, Bobby Jones. This section is a must for Jones's many fans as St. Andrews held a special place in his heart. The man himself is held very deeply here.
The modern game is also well represented at the museum. From Jack Nicklaus 1978 Driver to Rory McIlroy Open winning Wedge of 2014. Tom Watson's winning 1977 ball to Tony Jacklin's 1969 Open medal. Padraig Harrington has even signed his Carnoustie winning shoes of 2007. There are also scorecards from the magnificent Gary Player. The collection is vast varying from tournament programmes and even replicas of the Claret Jug itself.
This is a fantastic museum that links it's artifacts it has really well with the stories and personalities of our great game. It provides us with a complete history of British Golf and told in an accessible and engaging manner. The next time you come to St. Andrews...you'll have to include this in your things to do list.
For more information please visit www.britishgolfmuseum.co.uk
Under 15: £3.00
Under 5: Free
Family ticket (2 adults, 3 children): £15.50