Prestwick Golf Club

Prestwick Golf Club

18th hole at Prestwick
Club information
Coordinates 55°30′07″N 4°37′08″W / 55.502°N 4.619°W / 55.502; -4.619Coordinates: 55°30′07″N 4°37′08″W / 55.502°N 4.619°W / 55.502; -4.619
Location Prestwick, South Ayrshire, Scotland
Established 1851
Type Private
Total holes 18
Tournaments hosted The Open Championship
The Amateur Championship
Designed by Old Tom Morris
Par 71
Length 6,544 yards (5,984 m)
Course rating 75
Location in Scotland

Prestwick Golf Club is located in the town of Prestwick, South Ayrshire, Scotland. It is approximately 30 miles (50 km) southwest of Scotland's largest city, Glasgow. Prestwick is a classic links golf course, being built on the rolling sandy land lying between the beach and the land further inland. The course is located near the Prestwick airport, and some holes run along railway tracks on the eastern side of the course.


Golf had been played over the links at Prestwick for many years before the Club was formally organized in 1851. Old Tom Morris was the club's "Keeper of the Green, Ball and Club Maker" from 1851 to 1864. He designed and built the original 12-hole course, which measured 3,799 yards, 578 of which were on the first hole. In common with other courses, many of Prestwick's original holes crossed over the same undulating terrain; no more than two dozen golf clubs existed anywhere in the world at that time. Six of the original greens are still used by the present 18-hole course, which also includes three of the original holes: 2nd (Alps), 4th (Cardinal) and 5th (Sea Headrig).

Morris, originally from St Andrews, returned there to take charge of their links in 1865, but also assisted Prestwick when it extended its course to 18 holes in 1882 after the club acquired significantly more land to the north of its original lay-out.[1] With the course's expansion to 18 holes, which had become the game's standard, cross-routing was eliminated.

Originates The Open Championship

Prestwick is famous as the initial originator and sponsor of The Open Championship, the oldest of golf's four major championships. Discussion of The Open's future concept began soon after the 1859 death of Allan Robertson, longtime professional at St Andrews, who had been considered supreme for some 20 years until his death; the concept of the Open was to find the new 'champion golfer'. The first Open was held in October 1860, with three trips in one day over the course's 12 holes to make for 36 holes; the field consisted of eight leading professionals. The winner was presented with a red Morocco Belt with silver clasps purchased by the members at a cost of £25. The club annually staged all the Opens up to 1870, as well as the 1872 Open; cash prizes were also awarded to leading finishers. Young Tom Morris, son of Old Tom, learned his golf from boyhood at Prestwick, and captured four consecutive Opens held there from 1868 to 1872 (there was no Open in 1871). By winning the Belt three straight times, Young Tom was entitled under the conditions of the competition to keep it, so there was no prize to play for in 1871, and hence no Open.[1]

Prestwick remained in the Open's rotation until 1925, hosting the championship 24 times in all, which is second only to the Old Course. In 1925 crowd control became very problematic, as thousands of people overwhelmed the marshals, which were far too few in number to control them, and this situation disrupted the play of the championship, affecting the outcome, since many players' shots hit spectators and were deflected. Bernard Darwin, the era's leading golf writer, reported from the scene that he doubted the Open should be held ever again at Prestwick, and such has proved the case. The course's cramped layout does make hosting of events with large galleries highly problematic, although the course's challenge remains intact to test the modern generation of players.[2] Prestwick has also staged the Amateur Championship on eleven occasions, most recently in 2001.

Natural features

The River Pow, or the Pow Burn, flows through the golf club's property, and the river is a natural obstacle, there are fish and other species of rare nature in the river, so nature watchers are welcome there.

There are several sand dunes in the centre of the course. The tallest of the three is Pow Hill, the next tallest is The Queens Jack, and the third tallest is Cearcevlock Hill. Blind shots from the tee at the short fifth and on the approach to the par-4 17th add considerably to the mystery and charm of the course. The most famous hole is the third, a par 5, dogleg right, of 500 yards, where the fairway simply ends about 300 yards from the tee, as the land descends into a vast, deep bunker, nicknamed the 'Cardinal', about 50 yards across, which is buttressed by railway sleepers. Many championship hopes have died in this bunker. The Pow Burn flanks the hole down its entire right side. The Irish Sea / Firth of Clyde forms the western boundary of the course, flanked by sand dunes. The Royal Troon Golf Club sits immediately to the north of Prestwick's course and nearby Turnberry is down the coast, to the southwest.

Unlike some of Scotland's other leading courses, Prestwick is a private members' club, but visitors may book to play the course on most days of the week.

The Open Championship

The winners of The Open Championship at Prestwick Golf Club.

Year Winner[3] Score
R1 R2 R3 Total
1860 Scotland Willie Park, Sr. 1st[3] 555960174
1861 Scotland Tom Morris, Sr. 1st 545653163
1862 Scotland Tom Morris, Sr. 2nd 525556163
1863 Scotland Willie Park, Sr. 2nd 565458168
1864 Scotland Tom Morris, Sr. 3rd 545855167
1865 Scotland Andrew Strath 1st 555453162
1866 Scotland Willie Park, Sr. 3rd 545659169
1867 Scotland Tom Morris, Sr. 4th 585458170
1868 Scotland Tom Morris, Jr. 1st 515449154
1869 Scotland Tom Morris, Jr. 2nd 505552157
1870 Scotland Tom Morris, Jr. 3rd 475151149
1872 Scotland Tom Morris, Jr. 4th 575653166
1875 Scotland Willie Park, Sr. 4th 565951166
1878 Scotland Jamie Anderson 2nd 535351157
1881 Scotland Bob Ferguson 2nd 536057170
Year Winner Score
R1 R2 Total
1884 Scotland Jack Simpson 1st[3] 7882160
1887 Scotland Willie Park, Jr. 1st 8279161
1890 England John Ball (a) 1st 8282164
Year Winner Score
R1 R2 R3 R4 Total
1893 Scotland Willie Auchterlonie 1st[3] 78818182322
1898 Jersey Harry Vardon 2nd 79757776307
1903 Jersey Harry Vardon 4th 73777278300
1908 Scotland James Braid 4th 70727772291
1914 Jersey Harry Vardon 6th 73777878306
1925 England Jim Barnes 1st 70777974300

(a) denotes amateur


  1. 1 2 Tommy's Honor, by Kevin Cook, 2007
  2. The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Golf, 1999.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Number of the Open Championship in their respective careers
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