The R&A has a lot of influence within golf and runs some of the biggest events, but what does it actually stand for?

What Does R&A Stand For In Golf?

The R&A takes its name from The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, but in 2004 it became a separate entity from the golf club in order to focus on its governance role.

Martin Slumbers is the CEO of The R&A, which formed in 2004 following its split from the golf club.

Despite separating from the golf club, the R&A is still based in St Andrews and also engages in and supports activities undertaken for the benefit of golf.

The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews is one of the oldest golf clubs in the world, and was formerly known as The R&A before becoming separate in 2004.

The club formed in 1754, and has 2400 members from all over the world – membership is by invitation only.

The R&A is one of golf’s two governing bodies, sharing the responsibilities with the affiliated United States Golf Association (USGA).

The USGA governs the United States and Mexico, while the R&A covers the rest of the world – though they both share a single code for the Rules of Golf, Rules of Amateur Status, Equipment Standards, and World Amateur Golf Rankings.

156 organisations from amateur and professional golf are covered in the rest of the world, accounting for over 30 million golfers in 143 countries.

The two organisations have jointly issued the Rules of Golf since 1952, which they revise on a four-year cycle, while Decisions on the Rules of Golf – interpretative work – are revised every two years.

From 1990 a single common set of rules has applied for golf throughout the world, which The R&A and USGA determined.

Since 2019 The R&A has also incorporated an Equipment Standard division, that ensures new club and ball submissions from golf manufacturers conform to the rules of the sport through rigorous testing, while a team of scientists assess new golf technologies.

Golf’s oldest Major championship The Open is organised by The R&A, as are 20 other events, such as the Women’s Open, The Amateur Championship and The Senior Open Championship, plus international matches such as the Walker Cup and the Curtis Cup.

In 1986 The Royal and Ancient Golf Club founded the Official World Golf Ranking for male professionals, before founding the World Amateur Golf Ranking for male amateurs in 2007.

Merging with the Ladies’ Golf Union (LGU) in 2017 saw The R&A take on governance responsibility for women’s golf too, which includes running the Women’s Open.

This merger coincides with one of The R&A’s initiatives that focusses on increasing the participation of women and girls in golf globally, helping to drive a more inclusive culture worldwide.

Other initiatives of The R&A include Disability Golf, SafeGolf, GolfAtHome, and Golf & Health.

Finally, to help grow golf in a commercially and environmentally sustainable way, The R&A provides best practice guidelines on golf course management.

This ensures that golf course are managed successfully, but maintain an ethical approach in regards to environmental and social responsibility.