This is the oldest known painting of golf being played on the links at St Andrews. It was presented to the R&A on 5 May 1847 and was described in the minutes as “a very old oil painting, executed at a time when our ancestors took to the field in red coats and cocked hats”.
It shows a foursomes match between one team of players in blue and the other in red. There is one caddie for each pair. To the right are two shepherds, with a dog, tending the sheep, behind which is a windmill. This is a prominent feature in the painting, sitting atop a grassy mound. Built c.1709, it was no longer in use in the 1760s and was demolished in 1775.
The Swilcan Bridge can be seen clearly on the far right. In the distance is the town of St Andrews, with its recognisable landmarks: the Cathedral, St Rule’s Tower, the castle and the tower of St Salvator’s.
Until 1764, the links comprised 22 holes; it is very possible that this golfing scene takes place at what was the tee for the 20th hole.