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Prestwick – The birthplace of The Open

The Birthplace of The Open – Prestwick Golf Club

This iconic and picturesque club is full of history. Golfers and historians can not fail to be impressed by the club house, the hospitality and the course. A stone cairn by the clubhouse marks the spot where the very first Open Championship tee shot was struck in 1860.

Peter and Malcolm Prestwick
In the mid-19th century golf was played mainly by well-off gentlemen as hand-crafted clubs and balls were expensive. Professionals made a living from playing for bets, caddying, ball and club making and instruction. Alan Robertson born in 1850 of St Andrews was one of the first golf professionals to make any money from playing golf in this way. The most famous on the circuit at the time tradition has it that Robertson himself was never beaten as an individual when playing for money. He sometimes played at less than his ability in order to minimise the odds he had to give to opponents.

Robertson is generally regarded as being the best golfer from 1843 onwards. Following his death in 1859 the members of Prestwick Golf Club decided that there would be a competition to see who could replace Alan Robertson as the best golfer. The very first Open Championship was born and held at Prestwick golf club October 17th 1860.

Eight professional golfers played for the challenge belt (The then prize for winning the championship). The winner was Willie park of Musselburgh who recorded a score of 174 for 36 holes. He beat Old Tom who was representing Prestwick by two strokes. Tom however had his moment. In fact he had four as he went on to win four times. His son Tommy also won three times consecutively and also gained ownership of the belt.

Prestwick held the first 12 Open Championships. These were held in collaboration with The Royal and Ancient Golf Club and the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers. Prestwick went on to hold 24 Open Championships the last in 1925. Only the Old Course and St Andrews has hosted more Open Championships than Prestwick

For more information and artefacts on the early days of The Open visit www.prestwickgc.co.uk

To book a golf tour to Scotland to play Prestwick, Troon, Turnberry and more contact Melanie – melanie@signaturegolf.com

 

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