The Open Championship is where it all began. It is the oldest tournament in golf and also one of the four major tournaments, the only major played outside the US. It is truly one of the most prestigious events in golf, comparable to Wimbledon in tennis. It is also referred to as the Open or the British Open. The first edition of The Open was in 1860 at Prestwick Golf Club in Scotland. The tournament then took place every year in a couple of select links golf courses in the United Kingdom, including the Old Course at St Andrews, the oldest course in the world. The tournament is usually held in mid July every year.
4th July 1947. Open Championship, Royal Liverpool Golf Club
The host courses for the Open are all on coastal links. Links golf is described as the purest form of golf and keeps a connection with golf’s Scottish origins. The terrain is usually open with little no trees and severely undulating fairways and greens. The natural terrain is usually preserved. Being that these courses are wide open and near the sea, wind plays a huge role. It is quite common for players to use lower lofted clubs to keep the ball flight low. Distance control is quite the challenge in these situations.
The tournament has been played in some extreme conditions at times with pouring rain, gale force winds and low temperatures. Those that could manage to adapt to these conditions will find glory.
The Open trophy is the classic Claret Jug, which has been awarded to winners since 1873. The original trophy resides permanently on display at the St Andrew’s Clubhouse. The winners receive a replica of the Claret Jug, but have to return it after a year. It used to be that each champion was responsible for engraving his name on the trophy until 1967, where Argentine Roberto De Vicenzo returned the trophy without engraving his name. Since then, the name is engraved prior to the winner receiving the award.
The Claret Jug trophy at St Andrews Golf Course.
From 1860, it was only until 1907 that a non-British golfer won The Open. Arnaud Massy of France became the first winner from outside the UK. Of course, the tournament has changed drastically since its beginnings. The first edition of The Open was played by 8 golfers. The 2021 Open had 156 of the best golfers in the world on the field. The prize money in 2021 was a total of $11.5 million. Collin Morikawa played some astonishing golf and took home over $2 million in 2021. This was Morikawa’s first appearance at the Open.
Tiger Woods was one of the few to win the tournament wire to wire in 2005. He led the first round by one stroke, the second by 4, the third by 2 and the final round by 5. Tiger’s 14 under par gave him the victory at the Old Course at St. Andrews. Woods has a few other records at The Open including the lowest score in relation par at 19 under par in a par 72 course, giving him a victory with a margin of eight strokes and securing his career grand slam at the age of 24. He became the youngest golfer to achieve the career grand slam.
Tiger Woods winning the British Open
For more than 160 years and for years to come, the world's best players will face the unrelenting challenge of links golf at The Open, golf's original and most international Championship.