An R&A Tradition: “Kiss the Captain’s Balls”
By Stephanie Wei under British Open

As you may recall, I wrote about my trip inside the ultra-exclusive and prestigious Royal & Ancient Golf Club’s clubhouse — yes, that place where they only allow men to be members, and no, I didn’t have some major feminist reaction to the situation — for the Wall Street Journal blog. In fact, I had a pleasant time and the R&A blue blazers were quite friendly and give chivalry a new meaning. Sure, I felt a tad awkward initially, but I also feel awkward when I first walk into the media tent.

Well, a few paragraphs of my original piece were edited out for some reason or another, like length, etc. I thought you guys would enjoy the part where my host, James, an R&A member, told me about the tradition where each new captain is invited to kiss the captain’s balls. Yes, seriously! But get your mind out of the gutters!

While we waited to be seated for lunch upstairs, we took a seat in the Trophy Room (the first room on the left after walking in) with Richard Cole-Hamilton, the 2005 captain, who had the honor of awarding Tiger Woods the Claret Jug when he last won (one of the traditions of the R&A captain each year).

“I haven’t asked for it back yet,” he quipped. “I think he might win this year, too.”

James introduced the Trophy Room to me as something like “the room where we keep the captain’s balls.” Huh? “It’s a tradition to ‘kiss the captain’s balls’ when the elected captain is inducted,” he explained. “In the Autumn Medal, the elected captain hits a ceremonial drive on the first tee with a crowd of a few thousand gathered to watch. A silver replica (gold for the royals) of the ball he drives in is made and added to the cluster of captain’s balls (which looks like a bunch of grapes).

See, you pervs, it’s a symbolic gesture. And I can’t imagine the well-mannered gentlemen of the Royal & Ancient club making out like it’s something other than a celebrated tradition.

Well, like I’ve said before, the visit inside the hallowed walls of the R&A was one of the highlights of my trip. Though the graveyard excursion might make the best story, the hours I spent in the R&A were some of the most special and enjoyable ones.