For some sports, there are only so many iconic tournaments. New tournaments will be created and they will have some prestige, but often nowhere near as close as the original tournaments which are known for their history, prestige and sport background.

What is Wimbledon in tennis is the Open Championship in golf. It comes as no surprise that both are hosted in the UK. 

Here is more about the most prestigious golf tournament in the world, as well as the oldest one, the Open Championship. 

Early History and Founding

Mark S / Prestwick St. Nicholas Golf Club, South Ayrshire

The first British Open was played in 1860 at the Prestwick Golf Club in Ayrshire, Scotland. It was a twelve hole links course and it was a three round tournament. The early first decade of the tournament was a strange time for golf.

James Ogilvie Fairlie decided that there should be a tournament for professional golfers, even though at the time, golf was played mostly by rich people. The tournament had a small prize pool of 10 pounds, which was quite a lot at the time, and the winner would receive the Challenger Belt which was worth around 25 pounds. The Belt would be kept in storage until the next tournament.

Since Young Tom Morris won the 1868, 69 and 70 editions, they allowed him to keep the belt. The 1871 edition was not hosted because there was no prize trophy.

Expansion to England and the US

1872 saw the creation of the Claret Jug, the current trophy. Young Tom Morris won again in 1872 and he got a medal instead, and his name engraved into the trophy. He died in 1975, at the age of 24.

The tournament was domestic until 1892, when it was first played in England. St. George’s was added to the rotation not long after. The years prior to World War I saw three players win most of the tournaments, 16 out of 21. They were named the Great Triumvirate.

After World War I, the first American-born player, Walter Hagen, won his first Open, in 1922. The tournament stopped being hosted at Prestwick due to growing audience size limitations. 

The Modern Era

The tournament only grew larger as golf grew larger. The era past World War II was great and there were multiple winners since then up until 1994. It is very interesting that once we entered the modern era, in 1994, there were 10 different winners, all first-time winners, from 1994 up until 2004.

It wasn’t until 2019 that Northern Ireland was given the opportunity to host the Open, which was the first time after 1951.

The Open Championship, colloquially known as simply the Open or British Open, is the oldest tournament major, an amazing golf tournament which every golf fan should watch live, if possible.

By Imran