A multi-million pound revamp of one of the world’s most iconic buildings is designed to bring it into the 21st century in more ways than one.
Ambitious plans have emerged which would transform the Royal and Ancient (R&A) clubhouse overlooking the famous Old Course in St Andrews, yet do little to alter the landscape familiar to golfers and tourists from all over the globe.
The blueprint, which would more than treble the accommodation space in the building, is based on a basement level extension to the north and south that would see excavation below the existing car park area, new facilities connecting into the existing structure and then the parking area reinstated.
That will not only ensure the golfing facilities can cope with increased demand and the hosting of competitive golf but will allow women members – who currently make use of a locker room around 50 yards away at Forgan House – to access facilities within the clubhouse itself.
Security concerns have also featured strongly in the R&A’s thinking, with rising bollards to be installed around the area to provide security against terrorist attacks or the risk of runaway vehicles following the Glasgow bin lorry incident six years ago.
The Courier understands relocation and new build options were considered by R&A chiefs but it was felt its location overlooking the first tee and 18th green and its iconic status in the world of golf were too important to discard.
A spokesperson for the R&A said: “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 clubhouse’s foundation stone was laid in July 1853 and the building was ready 11 months later, although it has evolved substantially over the years.
However, the R&A’s new application for listed building consent for the proposed works represents one of the biggest changes in living memory.
It has not yet been revealed how much the redevelopment will cost but it is anticipated to be well into seven figures.
According to the proposals, 450 combined male and female lockers, providing adequate bench and hanging space, will be created along with showers and toilet facilities.
Bag storage areas catering for up to 500 golf bags and trolleys are planned, as are a drying room, a family-friendly meeting area to assist in the promotion of junior golf and a new arrival/drop off layby to improve the road network.
A lift will be installed in the building and redesigned ramps for disabled access, while there are also plans to move the existing Playfair Monument from its current location and reinstate it elsewhere on the site.