1911 Course Map.
While undoubtedly among the finest courses in the British lsles, Prestwick may not be considered the best. Many would likely reserve that accolade for The Old Course, Muirfield, Co Down, Portrush or Dornoch. Yet, Prestwick must take a forward seat for it was their members who hosted the first Open Championship in 1860...before the club or course had reached it's tenth birthday. That inaugural event was won by Willie Park Sr who returned a score of 174 over three rounds of 12 holes; beating course designer and Keeper of the Green, Old Tom Morris, by two strokes. Prestwick’s day in the championship sun ended as quickly as it began. Only 65 years after propagating The Open a dark day descended on 26 June 1925. Large crowds gathered to see Carnoustie born Macdonald Smith whisk away his first Claret Jug. Instead, big hitting Jim Barnes of Cornwall beat the unruly crowds and Smith; who would finish fourth while playing through a sea of people. The Open had outgrown its birthplace with the club never again being invited to host the Open. It is remarkable then that with 24 Opens and 90 years in the books, only St Andrews has hosted more Opens than Prestwick. Below is a 1925 map of the course. The course is remarkably similar to today.
2nd tee was near the tracks to the rear of #1.
3rd tee was right between the current 2nd tee and green.
9 & 10 were par 5s totaling an extra 100 yards of length.
15 & 16 were considerably shorter....16 was 233...what an interesting yardage that may be cool today.
The Morrises will forever be associated with Prestwick due to each winning The Open on four occasions at Prestwick. Aged 46, Old Tom remains the oldest winner of the Open and with his initial triumph in 1868 (shooting 154 over 36 holes; a remarkable feat) and after winning in 1868 the 17 year old Young Tom remains the youngest champion. Prestwick would continue hosting the event until 1870 when the Championship met a crisis. Young Tom Morris carried off the Challenge Belt after his third consecutive victory leaving the organizers with no prize. Consequently, there was no Open held in 1871, but as a means to raise money to host future Opens Prestwick agreed to co-organize the tournament with the Royal & Ancient GC and The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers. The three clubs operated a rotation using their courses (Prestwick, St Andrews and Musselburgh) as the venues. This arrangement carried on until 1892 when Harold Hilton won the Claret Jug at the Honourable Company’s newly completed course at Muirfield.
It could well be that the famous disagreement with Allan Robertson concerning Old Tom’s use of the gutty ball was the impetus required to lure Mr Morris away from his comfortable position at St Andrews. This opportunity did, however, provide Old Tom with a gateway into architecture and Prestwick may be his first solo design. With the exception of the area covering the second half of the first hole, it is clear Old Tom was bent on utilizing the land which exhibits the best natural character, but not without some difficulty. The old 6th
, crossed five holes and according to Horace Hutchinson “much ingenious dodging about was necessary to squeeze the dozen holes out of the old ground, and blind holes were then the rule, not the exception.” It is thought there are six greens and four holes still in play from the Old Tom Morris 1851 twelve hole design.
#2: A shortish (which can play deceptively long) par 3 was the OTM 3rd
. The tee has been moved well right of the Alps Green.
#3: The famous Cardinal
hole which was the OTM 4th
hole. The tee has been moved over Pow Burn.
#13: Sea Hedrig
, a long par 4 which was the OTM 5th
, an entirely original mid length par 4 playing over a 35(?) foot dune; OTM’s 2nd
#15 green was the OTM 9th green.
#16 green was the OTM 1st
The white ink is the OTM layout circa 1852 overlayed on the current course map. The map was nicked from Pete Pittock....with gratitude. I think there are a few minor issues with the map. I believe the 6th doglegged right using the current 15th fairway then hopping over to the 17th fairway before reaching the current 2nd green. The 9th played from the 18th tee to a green in the middle of Cardinal Bunker on #3! The entire course was considerably less than 40 acres and was contained within today's 2, 3 & 13-17. Five of the greens are NLE.
The first shot of the day was a typical "avoidance" swing designed to eliminate rattling a ball among the tracks. My 7 wood instead finished among the rough country out left. After hacking an 8 iron just shy of the bunkers I pitched on the green and two putted for a point. Mental note, the greens are nowhere near as good as the practice green
The proper way to play the hole is seen below...lay up shy of the narrows and plop a short iron onto the putting surface...sounds easy, but this 345 yarder is a very intimidating opening hole. Sporting the "I belong to a southeast England golf club" salmon troozers is our very own Spangles Muldoon.
The ease of the round continues on the second; 8 iron a few yards short of the green. My running 6 iron turned about 4 feet right, maybe three more than expected. Once again I missed the putt...1 point...heavy sigh.
More to follow.