Some classic golf courses have fallen out of service

St. Andrews is hosting its 30th UK Open starting Thursday to celebrate the 150th UK Open. The Old Course has hosted more open championships than any other venue, which is no surprise. It positions itself as the birthplace of golf and R&A, which oversees the Open, plans to hold the event every five years.

What’s surprising is that the second-placed course, Prestwick Golf Club, is synonymous with star player. Old Tom Morris and the advent of the championship itself, there have been 24 championships, but none since 1925.

Prestwick is not the only one who has been removed from the schedule or timetable. Three other courses hosting the Opens appear to have been permanently removed: Musselburgh Links, Royal Cinque Ports Golf Club as well as Prince Golf Club. And there’s another one Turnberry Golf Clubwhich involved the famous duel for a trophy – a burgundy jug.

It is clear that much attention is paid to courses in rotation. St. Andrews, Royal Liverpool, Troon, Royal Portrush, Carnoustie and Muirfield have hosted unforgettable Open Championships. However, what happened that these other historical courses were excluded from the Open schedule?

Prestwick in Scotland is where the Open began. Old Tom Morris, the first international golf star, designed Prestwick. He sent out an original invitation to the UK’s top golfers to name the golf champion of the year. And then he won four early Opens there (although not the first one that Willie Park Sr. claimed).

The club helped organize the early formation of the Open Championship and more than met the challenge, hosting 24 Open tournaments in 1860 and 1925. He also played a role in the creation of the burgundy pitcher, which the champion owns for one year. It was important to limit it to a year. Young Tom Morris, Old Tom’s son, having won three tournaments in a row at Prestwick, earned the right to keep the prize of the tournament: a red leather belt. Without a belt, the organizers came up with a burgundy jug in 1872.

But in 1925 Prestwick’s Opens came to an end. It wasn’t dramatic; it was logical. The legendary club could not accommodate the growing number of fans who wanted to watch the action in person.

While Jim Barnes, an Englishman living in the United States, won the burgundy pitcher, it was more about who lost it and how.

“In 1925, there was a terrible crowd suppression that cost MacDonald Smith the chance to win.” —Stephen Proctor, golf historian and author of The Long Golden Day: The Glory Age of Golf, 1864-1914.said about the Scottish player who was involved in the dispute. “He was loved to death by the crowd. They really wanted the Scot to win. The entire crowd followed him to the final round. The theory was that the crowd just excited him.”

The issue of space, crowds and growing interest in watching the Open has been a challenge on a tight small field like Prestwick. The Royal and Ancient St. Andrews Golf Club, which organized the Open at the time, saw interest grow. (In 2004, the golf club created a separate R&A group to oversee its championships, including the Open.)

“The holes are tightly packed together, so crowd movement between holes would have been impossible in the 1940s and later,” said golf historian Roger McStrawick.

Despite being short for a modern game at just under 6,500 yards and being remote, Prestwick has its supporters.

“It’s a mistake that there haven’t been any major tournaments since then,” said Ran Morrissett, co-founder Atlas Golf Club, golf architecture forum. “He has some of the meatiest and biggest par 4s in a 6 to 10 hole stretch. But tastes in architecture change over time.”

Mike Woodcock, an R&A spokesman, said in explaining the schedule that the Open “requires a large footprint to be able to host it, as well as a golf course with outstanding connections that will test the world’s best golfers and the necessary transportation infrastructure. allow tens of thousands of fans to come in and out every day.”

“That’s a high bar to hit.”

Musselburgh, also a Scottish course, was home to the Park family. This is where Willie Park Sr. came from, who won the first Open Championship in 1860. He won the Open three more times, the last time in 1875. His brother Mungo Park won it in 1874. And his son Willie Park Jr. won the Open Championship in 1887 and 1889.

Willy Jr.’s victory was significant: it was at the last open tournament in Musselburgh. The course had significant limitations even in the 19th century. There were only nine holes, and getting to them was not easy. As the Open format expanded to 72 holes, it became too small.

It was also St. Andrews and R&A acted as the golf’s new home, which led to Musselburgh being dropped from the original schedule, which also included Prestwick and St. Andrews.

“In 1892, it was Musselbrough’s turn to host the Open,” said Mungo Park, an architect and a descendant of the Parks. “But in 1891 the Noble Company [of Edinburgh Golfers] bought Muirfield. They had the right to hold the Open wherever they wanted, and they took it to Muirfield.”

“My uncle, who won the 1889 Open, had some influence in the golf world,” Park added. “And he was not afraid to challenge the gentlemen. He said it was wrong. You cannot take it from Musselburgh. But they may have had the right to take it with them, and they did.”

For two, they held three Open. Royal Cinque Ports Golf Club caught two and Prince Golf Club caught one.

Royal Cinque Ports is located in Deal, an English town with small, narrow roads. Modern Open is a large-scale production. There are other more suitable places in England. “This is a beautiful, beautiful, beautiful golf course,” said Morrissette of Golf Club Atlas. “The fact that the Open cannot be held here does not in any way detract from the value of the golf course.”

In 1932, Prince’s Golf Club in England put on a show with its only open tournament: the great American player Gene Sarazen, who won all four majors in his career, won his only open tournament there. He defeated Smith, who lost the last Open at Prestwick in 1925.

The case of Turnberry in Scotland is different. It is the ordeal of golf and has hosted four championships. In 1977, at the “Duel in the Sun” at Turnberry, Tom Watson faced Jack Nicklaus and Watson was ultimately victorious. The last Open was held in 2009.

But in 2014, Donald Trump bought Turnberry and renamed it Trump Turnberry. The place of the course in the timetable has been postponed.

“The Turnberry will be missed for its super-television optics and sea views,” said David Hamilton, author of Golf, Scotland’s Game.

While politics has often played a role in Open’s development, today it’s also about convenience and infrastructure. And this is what led to the abandonment of many other courses.

“Open is getting bigger and bigger, which will rule out courses over time,” McStrawick said. “Some were too short. Some were not available. The fate of some clubs has changed, so it went to the neighboring field.

He added: “You love to see the heroes of the day play the same links that the legends played. The magic of Open is that it links Old Tom Morris directly to Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus and Siv. [Ballesteros] Rory McIlroy.”