THE most famous building in golf is, without question, the Royal & Ancient Clubhouse at St Andrews. But the most recognisable? Arguably it’s the tall, turreted eruption of high Victoriana that overshadows it, the Hamilton Grand. So the story goes, it was originally built by a chap named Thomas Hamilton in 1895, after he was turned down for membership of the Royal & Ancient – he decided on a course of architectural one-upmanship. The gothic, redbrick result – originally built as a grand hotel – now towers over the 18th green of the Old Course, the backdrop to the closing moments of many golf’s greatest contests.
Anyone inside, therefore, arguably has the greatest view in golf, if not world sport. Up until a few years ago that meant students at St Andrews University. But now the building is being converted into luxury apartments, with 26 in total up for grabs. For golf fans, there’s never been an opportunity like it.
In the early 20th century it was Scotland’s equivalent of the Ritz – an opulent, glamorous hotel which attracted the likes of Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Astor and Bob Hope, was patronised by royalty and had the quirky claim to fame of being Scotland’s first hotel with running hot and cold water in every room.
During World War Two it housed RAF officers, before being acquired by the university and converted into a hall of residence. In 2005 an American businessman bought it with plans to develop it, only for the recession to come crashing down, and it has lain dormant for five years.
Billionaire US businessman and golf fan Herbert Kohler, whose Wisconsin-based company Kohler Co also happens to own and operate the Old Course Hotel at St Andrews, bought it in 2009. Following consultations, Kohler Co is now in the process of transforming the building. The apartments are expected to be ready next summer.
Starting prices for two bedrooms are £1.35m, while larger apartments, including the sixth floor penthouse and a fifth floor property which includes a living room in the famous “pepper pot” turret, will require offers of over £5.1m and £5.5m respectively. They can be bought without furnishings, or designed down to the last bit of linen by Kohler Co. There’s the option to of renting them out through the hotel when owners are not in residence, splitting the takings.
You’ll want to be in residence though. As well as the stupendous views over the six links courses and out to sea, there will be a restaurant and bar (open to the public), private members’ room with log fire and a roof garden. Butler service is laid on by the Old Course hotel, as is valet parking, use of its magnificent spa and of the Duke’s golf course. For golf nuts, the phrase “once in a lifetime” in this case rings absolutely true.
Reservations are being taken now. Call Savills on 0207 016 3740. www.savills.co.uk
PROPERTIES AT OTHER FAMOUS GOLF COURSES:
A six bedroom family home, built two years ago, on Wentworth Estate.
Contact: Knight Frank on 01344 840 020
A restored house with beautiful Dutch gables, this overlooks the ladies’ course at Sunningdale.
Contact: Barton Wyatt on 01344 843000