From earliest times, golf has been a sociable game. For 18th century golfing societies, gathering for dinner after play was very much part of the day and members were often required to pay for their food and wine whether or not they attended. Before they had the luxury of their own clubhouses, golfers met in local inns and taverns, taking a room, which also allowed them to discuss committee business.
In the 1830s, golfers started to acquire their own clubhouses. Royal Perth’s clubhouse was purchased in 1836, Royal Blackheath bought theirs in 1843 and in 1854 The Royal and Ancient Clubhouse was built.
The Clubhouse was more than a place to store clubs and get changed; it became a social hub. In the 19th century billiards was a popular gentleman’s past-time, so much so that in 1873 The Royal and Ancient Clubhouse was extended to allow for the creation of a second billiards room.
Emblems of club membership have always been important. The earliest recognisable emblem was the uniform. In the 18th century a military style uniform was worn. Over the centuries, clubs have adopted their own dress code and with it, their own traditions. Today, the club tie is the most visible symbol of membership.
The Collections: 1860 to the present day
Did you know?
When leading amateur Horace Hutchinson was asked for his view on the proposed Ladies Golf Union, he remarked: “[Ladies] …will never go through one championship with credit…constitutionally and physically women are unfitted for golf”. He was soon regretting his words. In 1891 there were 44 ladies clubs and by 1909 there were over 470.