Willie Park Sr.

Willie Park Sr.

Park wearing the Challenge Belt
Personal information
Full name William Park Sr.
Nickname Willie
Born (1833-06-30)30 June 1833
Wallyford, East Lothian, Scotland, UK
Died 25 July 1903(1903-07-25) (aged 70)
Levenhall, Musselburgh, Scotland, UK
Nationality  Scotland
Spouse Susanna Law
Children 10
Status Professional
Best results in major championships
(wins: 4)
The Open Championship Won: 1860, 1863, 1866, 1875
Achievements and awards
World Golf Hall of Fame 2005 (member page)
Park (c. 1867)

William "Willie" Park Sr. (30 June 1833 – 25 July 1903) was one of the pioneers of professional golf. He was a 4-time winner of the Open Championship.

Early life

Park was born in Wallyford, East Lothian, Scotland. Like some of the other early professional golfers, Park started out as a caddie. He later ran a golf equipment manufacturing business. On the course, he made his money from "challenge matches" against rivals such as Old Tom Morris, Willie Dunn and Allan Robertson, which were the most popular form of spectator golf in his era.

Playing style

Park, a tall, strong man, was a very long hitter and an excellent putter, but sometimes got into trouble through overly aggressive play. He had surpassed the older Willie Dunn by age 20, and travelled to St Andrews Links to play and learn that course. He issued a public challenge in 1853 to Robertson, generally recognised as the best player, which was, however, not taken up. Custom of the time allowed the best player to refuse a challenge of this sort without damage to his reputation. Park further fuelled controversy through his aggressive self-promotion, but this did lead to increased interest in golf rivalries, more press coverage, and more matches and tournaments being set up, developing the professional game and increasing the incomes of players such as Park, Morris, and Robertson.[1]


He married Susanna Law in Inveresk, Scotland, on 29 March 1860. The couple would have ten children.

Park's brother Mungo and his son Willie Jr. both also won the Open Championship. Mungo's victory came in 1874 and Willie Jr. had two wins, in 1887 and 1889.

Death and legacy

Park died on 25 July 1903.[2] He is primarily best remembered as the winner of four Open Championships, including the inaugural event in 1860, when the field was just eight strong. His other victories came in 1863, 1866 and 1875.[3] Park was the co-holder of the record for most wins in the tournament until James Braid picked up his fifth win in 1910.

Major championship

Wins (4)

YearChampionship24 holesWinning scoreMarginRunner-up
1860 The Open Championship Not known 55-59-60=174 2 strokes Scotland Tom Morris Sr.
1863 The Open Championship (2) 4 shot lead 56-54-58=168 2 strokes Scotland Tom Morris Sr.
1866 The Open Championship (3) 5 shot lead 54-56-59=169 2 strokes Scotland Davie Park
1875 The Open Championship (4) 1 shot deficit 56-59-51=166 2 strokes Scotland Bob Martin

Results timeline

Tournament 1860 1861 1862 1863 1864 1865 1866 1867 1868 1869
The Open Championship 1 2 2 1 4 2 1 2 4 DNP
Tournament 1870 1871 1872 1873 1874 1875 1876 1877 1878 1879
The Open Championship 6 NT DNP DNP 13 1 3 T8 T6 DNP
Tournament 1880 1881 1882 1883 1884 1885 1886
The Open Championship 15 T9 T7 22 DNP DNP T36

NT = No tournament
DNP = Did not play
"T" indicates a tie for a place
Green background for wins. Yellow background for top-10

See also


  1. Cook, Kevin (2007). Tommy's Honor: The Story of Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris, Golf's Founding Father and Son. New York: Gotham Books. ASIN B004SI8XEU. ISBN 978-1592403424.
  2. "Deaths in the District of Inveresk and Musselburgh in the County of Edinburgh". Statutory Deaths 689/00 0146. ScotlandsPeople. Retrieved 19 February 2015. (subscription required (help)).
  3. "1860 Willie Park Sr". The Open. Retrieved 16 October 2013.
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