We are very focused on a campaign to Save St Andrews which you can access on www.savestandrews.com
Please contribute your vote as a good size number of supporters might influence the local planners to withhold consent for a use of the building which is not welcomed by the global community.
Acquiring Hamilton Hall behind the 18th green of the Old Course has been my objective over the past ...16 years believe it or not! Sadly our bid was not even given the time of day by the real estate agent handling the sale of the iconic property in November 2009. The new owner is billionaire Herb Kohler from Wisconsin who proposes to create multi-billion pound apartments which is totally out of synch with the core message of the Home of Golf which is golf for all, the game of the people.
If we succeed in rescuing the building one of the activities would be to centralize discussions
such as the Mindy Method in helping golfers to derive more pleasure from the game and prolong their golfing lives.
The fairest solution to the dilemma of Hamilton Hall in St Andrews is to return the building to the Hamilton family at no cost. If this is not deemed feasible then, at a minimum, the name Hamilton Hall should be retained. Come now, does the world golf community wish its hereditary home to be cheek-by-jowl with a facility such as the Kohler Bathroom Fixtures Luxury Apartments for the Super Rich? But money talks and Kohler already owns the building. I suppose he still must get permission from the city to do his dastardly deed.
Richard Wax makes some excellent points in the Wall Street Journal article and the Golf Business News article at the savestandrews.com website. His group would employ the building as a sort of golf center for the public which would serve as a welcome station and "all things golf" for visitors who are not members of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club (an exclusive men only club, incidentally). The Old Course is public, ie, owned by the City of St Andrews. Players who are not members are not allowed in the R&A clubhouse and must retire to nearby pubs or hotels after their rounds or to escape downpours of frequent rain (hey, just keep playing most Scots would say). Thomas Hamilton built Hamilton Hall as a hotel in the 1890s after he was rejected for membership in the R&A. The savestandrews website also discusses introducing high-technology to the golf courses in St Andrews such as water-saving measures. I guess the heavy rainfall the city ordinarily receives is not enough to keep the greens green. I don't remember the fairways as getting a lot of water maintenance when I played there while stationed at RAF Edzell near Edzell, Scotland, just up the road from St Andrews. I had won a lottery which gave me the right to purchase the greens fee to play--it cost me 1 pound sterling in 1973! But money talks and my guess is that Kohler will have his way. Even so, I will add my opinion at the website to support Richard and his group.
Donald Trump wants to build a $1 billion golf resort in Scotland near Stonehaven, a small city on the North Sea coast, where I used to occasionally buy 10-pound North Sea lobsters (what a feast those were!). There's considerable local opposition to Trump's plans, but I expect The Donald will eventually have his way as well. Jim
Perhaps the town could designate Hamilton House as an
historical landmark as many cities do these day. As such
it would not be allowed to be developed in any way other
than faithful restoration. It would be a matter for the
town council to take up and consider. If that were done
then the owner would have no recourse but to restore it
or sell it.
There are so many old and historic buildings in Scotland I speculate that getting one added is probably not so easy. Generally, they don't think a building raised in 1895 is very old. Interestingly, Hamilton House was used for a number of years as a university dormitory. I would guess that several structures in St Andrews are already on some kind of designated historic list. Heck, the whole of the downtown area is old and historic, or was the last time I was there. Application would have to be made to the British National Trust or some such government agency. Jim
I would hope that historic significance would
take precedence over age. If it is viewed as
part of a complex of buildings that comprise the
oldest golf facility in the world then it might be
preserved on the merit of that premise.
On the other hand the Kohler plan would bring a lot
of money and opportunity to the town. I wonder what the
citizens think? Maybe there will be shouting matches
in the town hall meetings. I know in Tallahassee that
some homes and buildings designated as historic cause
a hardship on their owners that is quite real.
Is this something that should bend to the will of the
citizens of St. Andrews or that of the golfing world at large?
Although historicity would presumably take precedence over age, in the U.S. I think there are some age requirements for some of the historic designations, depending on type of structure involved. I lived in an historic district in Colorado Springs and the basic requirement for a homeowner there was that one had to get approval to change the facade of the property's exterior. Changes to the interior were generally of no concern to the authorities. I have no clue what the rules might be in Scotland. Hamilton House was built as a hotel with no direct connection to the St Andrews Old Course other than its location which is just across from the 18th green. A subsidiary of the Kohler Company, The Old Course Limited, already operates a hotel, spa and golf course (Duke's Course) in St Andrews so Herb Kohler must have an ongoing relationship with St Andrews officials.
I read in an article yesterday that Kohler, Wisconsin, home of the Kohler Company, had been hit hard by the recession. It's also the home of two well known golf courses, Whistling Straits (2010 PGA Championship will be there) and Blackwolf Run, as well as a spa/resort and high-end hotel. Assuming Kohler to be a major employer there, perhaps sales and installation of bath and kitchen fixtures, often a major purchase for ordinary folks, have gone down in the recession. I wonder to what extent Herb Kohler's purchase of and plans for Hamilton House in Scotland will benefit the citizens of Kohler, Wisconsin.
The following notice was published about the Hamilton House project at the Kohler, Wisconsin website.
"Herb Kohler, Chairman and CEO of Kohler Co., today announced that the company, through its subsidiary, The Old Course Limited, has purchased Hamilton Hall of St Andrews, Scotland, one of the most photographed buildings in the world of golf. Kohler Co. emerged as the accepted party from a competitive bidding process for the property conducted by Jones Lang La Salle and the Bank of Scotland. The Old Course Limited now owns and operates the 5 AA Red Star Old Course Hotel, the Kohler Waters Spa and The Dukes golf course, all of which will play a role in the future of Hamilton Hall.
"Join us at the public consultation and share your ideas on what the name of the building should be [Jim says Hamilton Hall!] along with its future use. We will consider all the suggestions made during the public consultation as to their suitability and economic viability. We thank the community of St Andrews for your support and interest in the restoration of Hamilton Hall.
Friday, 12th March 2010 10am to 9pm
Saturday, 13th March 2010 10am to 1pm
Town Hall, St Andrews"
I think we know where Richard Wax will be on March 12 and 13. Jim
The main reason we are pursuing this project is to ensure that Jim's contribution to the Mindy website is immortalised in the name of the focal building in St Andrews! In fact we might consider a name change to "The Jim Hamilton Hall!"
Where will I be on Sunday, 14th March, that is the question....watch this space! Free "Mindy" lessons from me for anyone who guesses!
Since Richard revealed to me where he will be on Sunday, March 14, 2010, I am ineligible to win the free Mindy lessons. For our U.S. members I can tell you that Richard visits this country once or twice each year. In the U.S., if you win the lessons, I expect you could hook up with him where he usually soujourns, ie, Orlando, Chicago or the Riviera Golf Club in L.A. For British members: he makes several visits each year to England. Jim
Richard won't be in Paris on March 14. Some of my ancestors were from Scotland, though I have no specific geneological info to connect me with Thomas Hamilton, the Royal and Ancient Club reject.
Soon after my posting to Edzell, Scotland in the early 1970s I bought some ties with the Hamilton tartan pattern. My wife and I were soon invited to a function where numerous Scot were guests and I wore one of these ties. One chap was wearing full Scottish regalia, including a kilt. He asked me about my tie and I proudly told him of my Scottish heritage. He looked me straight in the eye and said (something like): "Dina be braggin bout bein a Hamilton, the wuz jis a bunch a sheep thieves." His face remained passive. I was speechless. Finally, he roared with laughter, after which he graciously treated me to a 'wee dram' of single malt Scotch. In truth, the Scots like Americans a lot--they may like us more than they like the English. Jim
I will of course be in St Andrews lobbying for our cause. We are determined to win and have many supporters. So we are operating at local level, national and also through the international
If we win, the victory will be dedicated to the late great Mindy Blake whose clarity of thought and action have contributed enormously to my reflection and in particular his analysis of centrifugal and centripetal forces.
The positioning of our sustained campaign is both centripetal and centrifugal so very powerful.
The Ides of March will see an event take place which will be easy to stage yet global in its ramifications. It will affirm the comparative weight of support for the public usage against the privatization in a striking fashion....watch this space...the Mindy site is ahead of the game as ever!
I was mistaken about the location of Trump's huge ($1 billion) golf resort and upscale housing planned, and now approved, for "outline planning." It's near the village of Balmedie north of the city of Aberdeen, further north than I had stated. The Aberdeenshire Council was overruled in its rejection of Trump's plan. Their ruling was "called in" by the First Minister for Scotland who approved Trump's proposal virtually intact. Later, a more detailed plan was approved by the Aberdeenshire Council. The proposed site contains sensitive sand dunes, along with other environmental issues, but these matters were mostly disregarded. This is a wild and beautiful area, with hurricane-like gales and stinging sideways rain, especially in winter, though golf is played right through winter in Scotland, unless the links are snow covered. This may be a harbinger of what could happen with the Hamilton House project, ie, the local council in St Andrews could reject Kohler's plan in favor of Richard's group, only to have the First Minister for Scotland overrule the locals for economic reasons. SD