The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews‘ new captain began his year-long tenure with the traditional driving-in ceremony on Friday.

Pierre Bechmann hit a drive off the first tee of the Old Course at precisely 8am as a cannon fired alongside the tee, signalling the start of his captaincy.

A substantial crowd gathered to watch Mr Bechmann – the R&A’s first captain from Continental Europe – hit a long tee shot down the middle of the first fairway, with his ball finishing some 30 yards short of the Swilcan Burn.

The Frenchman – born in Neuilly-sur-Seine, Paris, in 1957 – will now represent the R&A and support its work developing golf around the world. He will also assume an ambassadorial role for the Club and attend both amateur and professional R&A Championships.

“It is a daunting prospect teeing off in front of such a large gallery, but I throughly enjoyed the experience. I am greatly looking forward to my year in office and hope I can contribute to the important work the R&A does for golf around the world,” said Mr Bechmann, who is a lawyer and member of the Paris Bar.

“I have been heavily involved in supporting the development of talented young players and I look forward to continuing that work in my new role.”

The 55-year-old currently sits on the Executive Committee of the French Golf Federation and the Championship Committee of the European Golf Association. He is a former member of the R&A’s General Committee, and has served on the Championship and Rules of Golf Committees, as well as the R&A Coaching Panel.

Mr Bechmann – who plays off nine – was also Captain of Royal St George’s Golf Club in 2008/9.