OFFICIALS at the body which runs the most famous golf course in the world have started legal action to prevent developers of a new £25 million golf club from using the name “St Andrews”.
The St Andrews Links Trust, (Salt) which operates the Old Course, yesterday served citations on St Andrews International Golf Club (SAIGC) and Feddinch Developments Ltd, instructing them they will be taken to the Court of Session over the use of the St Andrews name.
The 18-hole private golf course on a 245-acre site was designed by Tom Weiskopf, winner of the Open at Royal Troon in 1973.
Mr Weiskopf has designed more than 40 golf courses throughout the world, including the one at Loch Lomond.
The claim is that the private companies, operating on the outskirts of St Andrews, are passing off and taking benefit from the internationally-renowned activities and reputation of the St Andrews Links Trust (SALT), the charitable trust which runs seven courses, of which the Old Course is one.
The citation centres round the issue that the private companies have been incorporated to deceive or confuse the public, or to induce the belief that their golf-related goods and services are connected with those belonging to Salt.
Ewan McKay, a director with SAIGC and Feddinch Developments Ltd, said that this was not the first time that local businesses had been pursued by the trust over use of the St Andrews name.
“The fact is that they [Salt] are in dispute with several local companies over the same issue and I find the whole thing abhorrent,” he said.
“What right has a body established in 1974 got to deny people who have businesses in St Andrews to use that name?”
SAIGC was warned in December it faced legal action by golf chiefs unless all mention of St Andrews was removed from its internationally-marketed development, with the deadline for the removal having passed in January.
Mr McKay said his company had taken counsel’s advice and were not prepared to adhere to their “unjust and quite ridiculous demands” and were subsequently prepared to fight for their right to use the name St Andrews.
Mr McKay added that whilst the citation names SAIGC and Feddinch Developments Ltd, the project is now being run by Feddinch Club St Andrews Ltd, undertaking its first golf project.
Another company which has been involved in a dispute with SALT over the use of the name “St Andrews” is the St Andrews Golf Company which first started making golf clubs in 1881.
The golf club company faced objections from Salt when it attempted to register its trademarks with the Intellectual Property Office.
Last night Ewan Glen, chief executive of St Andrews Golf Company, said he did not want to comment on negotiations with Salt.
Neil Tappin, digital editor of Golf Magazine, said the name “St Andrews” was a powerful commodity.
He said: “St Andrews is synonymous with golf. When you think of it you think of golf. It is the number one golf venue in the UK, and the most famous alongside the Masters and Augusta.”
A spokesman for Salt said: “We have taken legal advice and been advised that these two companies are committing the legal wrong of passing off.
“It is our intention to pursue the current litigation action in order to ensure that this activity desists.”
The Old Course, established in 1552, is regarded as the “home of golf” because the sport was first played on the Links in the early 1400s. The Open is played there every five years.