The Soul of Golf

Saint Andrews, golf’s spiritual home in Scotland, is home itself to some of the most venerable and storied buildings in the sport. Chief among them: Hamilton Hall, built first as a hotel by Thomas Hamilton in the 1890’s after he was passed over for membership at the nearby Royal & Ancient Golf Club. Today, Hamilton Hall looks imperiously over both the 18th hole of Saint Andrews’ celebrated Old Course and, perhaps equally to Hamilton’s liking, over the Royal & Ancient clubhouse.

But the tall, red-sandstone building has fallen on hard times of late. Broken windows dot its facade; wires dangle from outlets on its walls; and many rooms are piled high with junk. The sporting landmark’s destitute condition, combined with its invaluable views of the Old Course and prominent place in golfing lore, make it an attractive target for links-minded investors. Among them: Rhode Island developer David Wasserman, who bought the building from the University of Saint Andrews (which had used it as a dormitory) for use as a luxury hotel, but failed to secure financing. Hamilton Hall was repossessed by the Bank of Scotland.

Hamilton Hall, center.

Hamilton Hall, center.

English golf consultant Richard Wax has also long had designs on the building, and would develop it as a type of universal golf clubhouse, the Wall Street Journal reports. Mr. Wax is one of several bidders now vying for development rights to the building after the Bank of Scotland put it up for auction. Other interested parties include faucet magnate Herbert Kohler and Donald Trump. 

Locals suspect the winning bid, which has yet to be announced, was Mr. Kohler’s. He was spotted recently around the building with a team of inspectors and advisors. Each potential suitor has different plans for the building, though all play on its historic location and world-class views.


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