Royal & Ancient: New Captain Drives In! Horovitz Nabs 3rd Gold!

I know reading that headline you're picturing Judge Smails in his brown Rolls driving into Bushwood, but the R&A keeps it a little more dignified than that, maintaining their traditional "driving-in" ceremony at 8 am Friday.

The Duke of York was on hand, as was arguably the least diverse gallery to see a golf shot in years.

For Immediate Release


25 September 2015, St Andrews, Scotland:  The traditional driving-in ceremony for the new Captain of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews took place on the 1st tee of the Old Course today.

Gavin Caldwell began his year in office with a drive at precisely 8am as a cannon fired alongside the tee. A large crowd of onlookers gathered to watch the ceremony along with a number of Past Captains including HRH The Duke of York.

As Captain, Mr Caldwell will represent The R&A and support its work in developing golf around the world. He will attend R&A championships in the professional and amateur games and assume an ambassadorial role for the Club.

After hitting his tee shot, Mr Caldwell said: “This is a great thrill for me because I am only the third Irishman ever to be Captain of the Club in its very long history. This moment has been on my mind since I was asked to be Captain.

“I have a wonderful year ahead representing The R&A at many events all around the world. It’s important to me to be a good Club Captain and it is truly an honour to take up this new role. I’m looking forward to spending time with the members and participating in events that happen here in St Andrews.”

Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland in 1947, Mr Caldwell was club Captain and Chairman of the Walker Cup Committee when it hosted the 1991 match. A former Trustee of Portmarnock Golf Club, he enjoyed a successful university golf career and is President of Dublin University Golfing Society.

Mr Caldwell was educated at St Columba’s College and Trinity College, Dublin and embarked on a career in investment management. In 1980, he was appointed as the founding Chief Executive of Ulster Bank Investment Managers, the Irish subsidiary of NatWest Group, a role he held until 2003. He is currently a non-executive director of several Irish subsidiaries of international investment companies.

Mr Caldwell has served on the Amateur Status and Championship Committees of The R&A and was a member of the General Committee from 2010-2013. He has been a member of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club since 1996. He resides in Howth, County Dublin with his wife Jane and has five children, Robert, Sarah, Sonia, Jennifer and Gillian.

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.

And an American caddie/author rightly anticipated where to retrieve Mr. Caldwell's golf ball.

Part of the tradition is that a gold sovereign is paid by the new Captain to buy his golf ball back from the caddie who retrieves and returns it. American caddie Oliver Horovitz returned the Captain’s ball for the third time, after also retrieving it at the driving-in ceremony of 2014-2015 Captain George Macgregor OBE and 2011-2012 Captain Alistair Low.

“I’m really excited to receive the sovereign for a third time,” said Horovitz, who is currently in his tenth season on the links. “Last year I phoned my mother back in New York and woke her up with the news so I’ll have to do that again today. I think the secret is to try and get as good a view before the Captain hits his shot, and more than that I think I’ve just been really lucky. It’s a huge honour to be part of this ceremony.”

And the tributes were flowing for Peter Dawson, who I know you'll be relieved, had his suspended membership reinstated for life.

From an Royal and Ancient Golf Club member:

The announcing of the prizewinners at Friday evening’s Annual Dinner, by reading their names from the Minutes held in the “Record of Captains and Medal Holders”, marked the final duty in office of retiring Secretary Peter Dawson. At Thursday evening’s Business Meeting, Peter was elected a Life Member of the Club, and in their Reports to that Meeting the General Committee and Club Committee Chairmen paid the following tributes:

The General Committee Chairman:

“2015 sets itself apart as the year when our long-serving Secretary of the Club and Chief Executive of The R&A will take a well-earned retirement.  It would not be possible for me to summarise at this point all of Peter Dawson’s achievements during the past 16 years but suffice to say that his vision and leadership have been instrumental in ensuring that The R&A companies occupy a pre-eminent position in the world of golf as well as the Club itself.  The respect and esteem with which he is held throughout the global reach of our sport bear testimony not only to a person with a superb knowledge of golf and golfers but someone who brings wisdom, good judgement and clear communication to every situation and challenge.   Peter, we thank you most  sincerely for your outstanding service to the Club and for heading up The R&A which, during your term in office, has delivered year-on-year enhancements to the presentation and commercial success of our Open
Championship that is rightly regarded as the leading Major of each year.

Amongst your many contributions we must also acknowledge your success in building and inspiring a team of staff members who continue to provide a most efficient, effective, and above all else, friendly service to all of our Members.  We also greatly appreciate the willingness and enthusiasm that you have shown in the sharing of your extensive expertise with your successor, Martin Slumbers, who I know has appreciated your generosity and cooperation during these recent months of work-experience with you.

On behalf of all Members, I also extend warm congratulations to you on the recent award of the OBE in The Queen’s Birthday Honours for your services to golf.  That service is ongoing of course through your continuing Presidency of the International Golf Federation and we wish you every success with the administration of golf in the 2016 Olympic Games.

As many of you will know, Peter Dawson became a Member of this Club in 1994 but in accordance with Club practice his Membership was suspended when he became Secretary in 1999.  I am delighted to say that, with the enthusiastic support of the Membership Committee, the General Committee yesterday reinstated Peter as a Member of the Club under Rule 4(4)(b) with effect from Saturday 26 September 2015.  Furthermore, the General Committee wishes to propose to this meeting that Peter become a Life Member under Rule 6(1) in recognition of his distinguished service to the Club and the game of golf.

And from "The Club Committee Chairman":

“Peter, as Chief Executive of The R&A and Secretary of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, you have always managed to skilfully balance both roles with equal regard to one another. You have never lost sight of the Club and its importance to the core of our whole organisation, despite the huge demands placed upon your time and energy as Chief Executive of The R&A.

Your dealings with the Club Committee and your regular attendance at their meetings have always been of enormous help and guidance. The world of golf will remember you as a Chief Executive of vision and leadership, but as a Club we will remember you too as someone who cared enormously about the Members and always recognised the importance of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club to the history and standing of the game of golf, and indeed to this very special town of St Andrews.”