New captain drives in at R&A Golf Club of St Andrews

Gavin Caldwell, the new captain of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, drives in to office. (GSR Photographic)
Gavin Caldwell, the new captain of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, drives in to office. (GSR Photographic)
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The traditional driving-in ceremony for the new captain of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews took place on the first 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.

Gavin Caldwell, captain of the R&A Golf Club of St Andrews.

Gavin Caldwell, captain of the R&A Golf Club of St Andrews.

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.

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 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.

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 to 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.”