Past Captains, having conferred together, have announced that they have nominated the Rt Hon Justice Thomas Munro Gault DCNZM as Captain of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews for the year 2005-2006. He is the first Captain to come from New Zealand and only the second from the Antipodes, following Viscount Bruce of Melbourne in 1954.
Tom Gault was educated at Wellington College and then at Victoria University College where he graduated LL.B prior to being awarded an LL.M degree at Victoria University of Wellington. He was a Visiting Fellow at Cambridge University in 1993.
In 1961 he commenced his career as a solicitor of the Supreme Court of New Zealand, working for the legal firm of A J Park & Son and by 1984 had been appointed a Queen’s Counsel. Three years later he was appointed a Judge of the High Court of New Zealand and in 1991 was named one of the Judges of the Court of Appeal of New Zealand. This was followed by his appointment in 2002 as President of the Court of Appeal and finally, in 2004, as a Judge of the Supreme Court of New Zealand.
Among the many honours he has received as a result of his expertise in law are those of being appointed a member of Her Majesty’s Privy Council, being created DCNZM and being appointed Member of Honour – Association Internationale pour la Protection de la Propriete Industrielle.
Tom Gault joined The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews in 1994 after having, from 1978 to 1996, served as an Advisory Member of the Rules of Golf and Amateur Status Committees. He was an Open Championship referee from 1993 to 1998.
While at university, he won the New Zealand Universities’ Championship and was awarded Blues by both Victoria University and New Zealand University. During his career in law, he became involved in golf administration that culminated in him leading the New Zealand Golf Association as their President from 1987 to 1996. He continues to enjoy playing golf as time permits to a handicap of 13 and as well a being a member of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, is also a member of Paraparaumu Beach and Auckland golf clubs.
He lives in Auckland, is married to Barbara and has one son Ian.
Steeped in tradition, The R&A captaincy dates back to 14th May 1754, when William Landale gained the title by winning the Challenge for the Silver Club. The Captaincy became elective around 1806, and the practice continues to this day, whereby each new Captain attaches a silver ball to the Club to mark his year in office. The exceptions are Royal Captains who, since 1863, have attached a gold ball. Tom Gault will play himself into office at 08.00 BST on Thursday, 22 September 2005. The ceremonial drive from the first tee of the Old Course was established in 1863, performed by John Whyte Melville on behalf of Edward, Prince of Wales. The single shot earns the incoming Captain the Queen Adelaide Medal, which is worn on official engagements. The symbolic drive is accompanied by the firing of a cannon. Customary practice is to reward the local caddie for retrieving the Captain’s ball. Edward, Prince of Wales (later Edward VIII) was the first Captain to give a gold sovereign in 1922.