Herb Kohler has the finishing holes of St. Andrews’ Old Course surrounded. First, he purchased the Old Course Hotel, which sits next to the 17th hole. Kohler then acquired Hamilton Hall, the red-sandstone structure that looms over the 18th green.
Kohler, whose golf portfolio also includes St. Andrews’ Duke’s Course and the American Club in Wisconsin, bought Hamilton Hall for $18 million from the Bank of Scotland, which repossessed the property from American developer David Wasserman, who had bought the five-story building in 2004.
The edifice has been the backdrop for the coronation of 20 British Open champions since it opened in 1895 as the Grand Hotel. In 1949 the University of St. Andrews converted it into a student residence and renamed it. Wasserman’s plan was to convert it into a fractional-residence club, but he couldn’t find enough members and the interior has been lying in disrepair.
Now, Kohler will try to succeed where Wasserman failed. The plumbing-fixture magnate will build 26 luxury apartments, for which construction will begin after the British Open.
Given Kohler’s excellent track record in golf, to be epitomized in August when his Whistling Straits hosts its second PGA Championship, it is very likely he will return Hamilton Hall to its original intent: welcoming visiting golfers to the home of golf.