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The Open

Prior to the first Open, a "Grand Tournament" was played a couple of years after the Royal and Ancient Clubhouse was built in 1854, and the 12 established golf clubs at that time were requested to send two amateur golfers to participate.

The first ever Open Championship in 1860 was hosted by the 12-hole Prestwick golf course. Playing 3 times round it in the one day in mid-October, a total of eight competitors took part and Tom Morris Snr (a famed pioneer in the world of golf) came second to Willie Park, losing by 2 shots. Morris went on to participate in every Open until 1896 and was victorious four times.

Golfers in st Andrews in 1856 Golfers in st Andrews in 1856

In 1861 that the Open Championship was made more widely accessible in that it included amateurs. This time, Old Tom Morris won.

The Challenge Belt was made from soft Moroccan leather, and its buckle was hand engraved with a detailed golfing scene. It was presented by the Earl of Eglington.

The Challenge Belt

Prestwick gradually began to feel the pressure of hosting the Open every year, and called upon Musselburgh and St.Andrews to ease the burden. There was no Open held in 1871 as the three parties could not reach agreement on the issue.

Centenary Open Programme 1960
Centenary Open Programme

In 1872, the Claret Jug was purchased for the Open. The Jug was an apt trophy as the gentlemen of those days frequently played for bottles ( and on some occasions) cases of Claret!

The Open of 1872 was the first to be played for the Claret Jug, which is still the trophy awarded to the winner today.

Unlike the previous trophy, The Claret Jug "...can never be the absolute property of any winner, but along with the custody of it for one year, he gets a medal to be specially retained and also a money prize..."

1873 heralded the first Open Championship to be played on the Old Course, the birthplace of both Old Tom Morris and his son, Tom Morris Jnr. Mr D.McWhannel, representing the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, was honoured with the privilege of being the first to tee-off in the St Andrews Open.

The famous Claret Jug
The famous Claret Jug

Bob Martin was runner up in the 1875 Open at Prestwick and went on to win two Championships at St Andrews in 1876 and 1885. He was a registered caddie who also made golf clubs for Tom Morris Snr.

Martin was declared winner after his opponent, Davie Strath, representing North Berwick, was "considered for disqualification". After some deliberation, the Open was declared a tie between the two men and it was decided that 18 holes should be played at a later date to decide the outcome.

Davie Strath refused to play under such a condition. Martin walked the course the next day and was declared Champion for 1876.

There have been five double winners of The Open at St Andrews:-

  1. Bob Martin, 1876 & 1885
  2. J.H. Taylor, 1895 & 1900
  3. James Braid, 1905 & 1910
  4. Jack Nicklaus, 1970 & 1978
  5. Tiger Woods, 2000 & 2005

Following World War I, full responsibility for the Championship (wherever it was held) was taken on by The Royal and Ancient.

Bob Martin runner up in the 1875 Pretwick Open and winner at St Andrews in 1876 & 1885
Bob Martin

St Andrews & The Open Championship, The Official History

by David Joy and Iain Macfarlane Lowe

St Andrews Press
ISBN 1-886947-26-0

Here is the last paragraph in the book.
"When the crowds are long gone and the stands dismantled, an eerie stillness lingers as the course rests at the setting of the sun. Shadows of the past creep onto the course and sounds of distant voices heralding triumph or disaster seem to echo around this hallowed ground which is The Old Course in St Andrews - The Home of Golf."

St Andrews & The Open Championship, The Official History

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