1951: Francis Ouimet becomes 1st “Non-Briton” Captain of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews


Ouimet receives high honor from the Scots

On this day, In 1951 Amateur king Francis Ouimet became the first “non-Briton” Captain of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews.  Ouimet, of course splashed onto the golf scene after miraculously winning the 1913 U.S. Open as an amateur.  Along with his triumph at Brookline in 1913, he also won two U.S. Amateur titles in 1914 & 1931.  The post of captain had been held by many other famous people/players throughout the club’s 198 year history thus far.  Among them are King of England in 1930 and the Duke of Windsor in 1922.

The Captain of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews

Photo shows Francis Ouimet “driving in” as Captain during the R&A St. Andrews Ceremony. Photo is by G.M. Cowie. Copyright Unknown/Courtesy USGA Archives.

The office of Captain was a duty that was awarded to the winner of the Challenge for the Silver Club.  Possibly around 1806, with the introduction of the Gold Medal, the Captaincy became an elected office and the Challenge for the Silver Club became a symbolic, rather than a real competition.

A ceremonial drive by the newly appointed Captain has been a tradition for over 100 years, in Ouimet’s ceremony the papers reported that he hit his drive 180 yards.

Over the years the responsibilities of the Captain have increased and, in modern times, his role has expanded to that of ambassador for the game and a figurehead for the Club’s worldwide membership.

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