On 17 October 1860, eight professionals assembled at Prestwick for a tournament to determine who would be the Champion golfer. The winner was to receive the Challenge Belt, a prize crafted from red Moroccan leather and worth £25. The competitors played three rounds on the then 12-hole links, with Willie Park Sr. beating Old Tom Morris by two shots. A year later, Prestwick announced that the tournament “shall be open to all the world.”
For the 145th Open, Royal Troon will be the hosting course. Founded in 1878, Royal Troon is renowned as one of the greatest links courses in the world and has hosted 8 other Opens. The course, which took its current form in 1888, is designed in the traditional out-and-back manner of the Old Course at St Andrews. A gentle opening few holes and relatively straightforward closing stretch are the bookends for a series of holes which weave up, round and through some of the most striking linksland to be found at any of the host venues.
This character makes the strength and direction of the wind even more important than is usual on a links course: if the wind is against the players on the back nine, it’s as tough a finish as can be found anywhere.