There are two separate entities - there is "The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews" and since 2004 there is also "The R&A"
The Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews
King William gave St Andrew’s the title the 'Royal &
Ancient' in 1834.
St Andrew’s has had the greatest effect on the origin of golf. The course was initially built with 22 holes but these were later reduced to 18. New courses followed suit and 18 holes became the standard.
At St Andrews the size of the hole was set at 4.5 inches and this too was copied by other golf courses.
"The R & A"
The R&A organises The Open Championship, golf’s oldest Major along with a number of other amateur and junior events.
The R&A is also responsible for the administration of the Rules of Golf with the consent of 143 organisations from the amateur and professional game, and on behalf of golfers in 126 countries. For the USA and Mexico, the USGA is the governing body, an organisation with whom The R&A has jointly issued the Rules of Golf since 1952.
The R&A's heritage department has the task of preserving a large collection of golf's historic objects, such as golf clubs, trophies, books, paintings and even a film archive. These are preserved at the R&A and in the British Golf Museum in St Andrews.
Some very early photographs of golf at St Andrews and the early clubhouse can be seen by clicking here.