AN INNOVATIVE development is taking shape in St Andrews which has already been billed as a main attraction in the local area for golfers and non-golfers alike.

Over the course of almost three years, the British Golf Museum was renovated and opened as the World Golf Museum last June, with the existing café currently being revamped and  due to launch as a brasserie in time for the 150th Open Championship this summer.

Originally named the British Golf Museum when it first opened 30 years ago, the museum, which was rated a five-star attraction by Visit Scotland, has been renamed the World Golf Museum to show its connection to the global golf governing body, in addition to providing a better indication of the extensive scope of the collections.

The redevelopment has been designed to enable the museum to be more inclusive, with provision made for neurodiverse visitors, as well as those living with dementia. There is an education room, too, for school groups, with crafts and learning activities for any young visitors to the museum.

Work is ongoing with the transformation of the café into a brasserie, which will be named The Niblick, taking inspiration from the museum's collections.

The repurposed venue, in which visitors can enjoy stunning views of the golf courses and West Sands beach, will provide a diverse menu that utilises the very finest locally sourced produce during the day.

Exclusive, evening events will also be available; these will incorporate private use of the museum with a curated tour of the galleries, photographs with iconic artefacts and fine dining in a stunning setting.

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“The Niblick will see us operating a different business model and we are very excited by the opportunities it offers," said Angela Howe, Museum Director. “For example, the evening experiences, which will be named ‘The Curator’, will provide another opportunity to put the collections at the heart of the experience; tours will be tailored to the particular interests of our groups. Again, this is a new departure for us and is one we are looking forward to intro- ducing and developing".

Angela added that while they were proud of the five stars they have been awarded for many years, they did not want to rest on their laurels.

“It's something the team is very proud of, and we continually innovate to keep our experience in line with the evolving expectations of our visitors," she said. “A positive customer expe- rience at key touchpoints is critical, whether it be the quality of pre-arrival information on the website, the welcome received on arrival or the  presentation of the displays and the quality of the food and beverage offering in our restaurant. It is very important to us that our visitors feel they are getting something 
valuable from their museum experience."

The planning for the redesign began in 2018 with work starting in autumn 2019.

At the same time the museum team reviewed the name, as it was felt the previous incarnation didn't indicate any connection to The Royal and Ancient Golf Club, to which the museum owes its origins. Nor did it have any connection to the R&A as the sport's governing body and it was felt the name should signpost the relationship.

Consultants were engaged to facilitate the process, something Angela said was hugely beneficial. “The reason we settled on the R&A World Golf Museum was that since opening in 1990 the collection has grown significantly and so we therefore felt including ‘world’ in the name was fully representative of the collection as it stands and how it will grow into the future,” said Angela.

“It's ambitious and aspirational and gives us a fresh focus for our collection and
how we communicate our stories.” The new branding was inspired by one of the stained-glass windows in the Royal and Ancient Clubhouse and is used to give the impression of looking through a luminous window into golf's history. “It's really bright, really colourful and quite a fresh approach for the museum,” said Angela.

The museum layout has been completely transformed from the linear, chronological format used previously, where the story of golf was told from its earliest known begin- nings until the present day, into a thematic and experiential approach.

“When you first enter there is an area dedicated to St Andrews which sets the scene, and an interactive display talks about the Home of Golf, followed by an area showcasing the earliest forms of the game.”

The whole collection is greatly enhanced by artefacts acquired following the merger of the R&A and the Ladies' Golf Union in 2017.

“The gallery redevelopment has been an excellent way of demonstrating the hugely important role played by women in the sport across the ages.” explained Angela.

The museum also offers several initiatives where golf is the vehicle used to support educational and health and wellbeing projects. For example, Golfing Memories sessions, which formed part of a programme of activities prior to the pandemic for people suffering from dementia, will shortly resume.

The meetings provide a great opportunity for sharing recollections, whether of players, championships or playing equipment.

“Thanks to Arts Council funding, the museum is creating a ‘Sensory Map’, designed as a familiarisation tool for neurodi- verse visitors planning a visit to the museum,”

Angela added. “This can be viewed on our website and provided to visitors on arrival. “We are also looking at expanding the ways in which we can provide a valuable service for all levels of society because museums are for everyone, golf is for everyone and we want to convey these really positive messages.”

In addition, there is a temporary exhibition gallery, with the current exhibition showing photographs of Seve Ballesteros, taken by David Cannon who followed the famous golfer throughout his career.