As the best golfers in the world once again come together to determine who will raise the Claret Jug at the 146th British Open The Open Championship we are reminded of how far golf has come, and what a rich history it has.
Although this is officially the 146th Open, golfers have been facing the relentless challenges presented by some of the world’s best links courses for over 150 years.
With meagre support from other clubs, the first Open Championship was held on 17 October 1860 at Prestwick Golf Club, about 30 miles Southwest of Glasgow. The eight professional golfers vying for the red Moroccan prize belt, worth 30 guineas, could never have predicted that their tournament would turn into the global event worth $10.25million that it is today. The winner, Mr. Willie Park Sr, could also not have known that his two-stroke victory over the legendary Old Tom Morris would put his name in the history books forever.
After winning the Open three years in a row, between 1868 and 1870, ‘Young Tom’ Morris retired the Championship belt. Lacking a prize, the championship was skipped in 1871 only to return the next year, according to Britannica Academic, with the Claret Jug. Since then, the Claret Jug has become one of the most iconic trophies in sports history.
Situated on the golden links of the north-west coast in Southport, Royal Birkdale hosted its first Open in 1954 after missing their first opportunity in 1940 due to World War II. Considered as one of the finest courses in all England, Royal Birkdale has hosted ten Open championships, including 2017, as well as numerous other international championships and events. Regarded as one of the truest tests of links golf, Royal Birkdale along with Royal Lytham comes second only to St Andrews as one of the most regular venues for The Open.
Watch this short film produced by The Open to celebrate 150 Years of the Championship.
Although this brief overview gives us a glimpse into the wealth of history that The Open carries with it each year, it by no means even scrapes the surface of the number of historical moments that The Open has given us.