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The Open Venues: Every Past Venue & Playable Courses

July 2, 2024
Open Championship

As one of golf’s oldest and most prestigious tournaments, The Open Championship has an abundance of history and has held great significance throughout the decades. The first Open Championship was held in 1860 at Prestwick Golf Club in Scotland. 

By 1872, The Open had moved to include other courses, with the format evolving to accommodate more participants and establish its reputation as a major championship.

Here we’ll cover all of The Open Venues and the history they have to offer.

St Andrews (Old Course), Scotland

  • Years: 1873, 1876, 1879, 1882, 1885, 1888, 1891, 1895, 1900, 1905, 1910, 1921, 1927, 1933, 1939, 1946, 1955, 1957, 1960, 1964, 1970, 1978, 1984, 1990, 1995, 2000, 2005, 2010, 2015, 2022
  • Accessibility: Public

The home of golf, the world’s most famous links course, and the oldest and most famous course in the world: The Old Course at St Andrews. The course dates back to the 1500s and in 1754, the Royal and Ancient Golf Club was established under its initial name: the Society of St Andrews Golfers. 

The Old Course has hosted the most Open Championships and has hosted other tournaments such as the Amateur Championship, the Walker Cup, and the Women’s Open. It is also most known for its 17th hold, The Road Hole, which is considered one of the most difficult holes in Open Championship history.

Prestwick, Scotland

  • Years: 1860-1872, 1875, 1877, 1881, 1884, 1887, 1890, 1892, 1893, 1898, 1903, 1908, 1914, 1925
  • Accessibility: Private

As the birthplace and host of the second-most Open Championships, the Prestwick Golf Club holds a significant amount of history and prestige when it comes to the tournament itself. The course is a classic landmark, offering an authentic experience with a layout where holes wind through rugged dunes and undulating fairways.

It features several blind holes and deep bunkers with wooden steps leading down. The greens are renowned for their firm, fast surfaces; some are nestled in hollows, while others sit atop raised plateaus. Prestwick’s most famous hole is the 17th which is described as “the most spectacular blind hole in all the world.”

Muirfield, Scotland

  • Years: 1892, 1896, 1901, 1906, 1912, 1929, 1935, 1948, 1959, 1966, 1972, 1980, 1987, 1992, 2002, 2013
  • Accessibility: Private

Muirfield has hosted 15 Open Championships and many top professionals consider it to be one of the fairest Open Championship venues. The course layout is renowned for its distinctive design: the outer 9 holes run clockwise, while the inner 9 holes run counter-clockwise within the outer loop. 

It features relatively flat terrain, with its most challenging aspect being the thick rough. Like the Old Course, Muirfield has also hosted The Amateur, the Walker Cup, and the Women’s Open.

Royal St George’s, England

  • Years: 1894, 1899, 1904, 1911, 1922, 1928, 1934, 1938, 1949, 1981, 1985, 1993, 2003, 2011, 2021
  • Accessibility: Private

In 1894, after only seven years of being open, Royal St George’s hosted its first of fifteen Open Championships and became the first venue to host the tournament outside of Scotland. With each hole vastly different from the next, Royal St George’s creates a memorable experience and stands as a true sign of a great course. 

The course’s most famous hole is the 4th called the “Himalayas” which presents one of the tallest and deepest bunkers in the world sitting at more than 40 feet.

Royal Liverpool (Hoylake), England

  • Years: 1897, 1902, 1907, 1913, 1924, 1930, 1936, 1947, 1956, 1967, 2006, 2014, 2023
  • Accessibility: Private

Formally known as Royal Liverpool, Hoylake stands as one of the oldest and most distinguished golf clubs in the world. It is the second oldest seaside links course in England and it received royal patronage from Prince Arthur in 1872. 

The views from holes 9, 10, 11, and 12 showcase the stunning Irish Sea which may bring strong winds into the mix. Royal Liverpool has hosted The Open Championship thirteen times.

Royal Lytham & St Annes, England

  • Years: 1926, 1952, 1958, 1963, 1969, 1974, 1979, 1988, 1996, 2001, 2012
  • Accessibility: Private

Royal Lytham and St Annes opened in 1886 and has hosted The Open Championship eleven times. What makes this circuit course unique and different from any other venue is the par three on the starting hole 1. 

The 17th hole here belongs to the infamous Bobby Jones who won the 1962 Open as an amateur where he beat Al Watrous by two shots. Royal Lytham and St Annes has also hosted the Women’s Open and the nitrous Ryder Cup.

Royal Birkdale, England

  • Years: 1954, 1961, 1965, 1971, 1976, 1983, 1991, 1998, 2008, 2017
  • Accessibility: Private

Founded in 1889, Royal Birkdale Golf Club is renowned for its championship pedigree, challenging design, and ability to test the skills of the best golfers in the world. It remains a favorite among players and spectators alike for its storied history and picturesque links setting along the Lancashire coast. 

Royal Birkdale has hosted The Open Championship ten times along with other famous tournaments such as the Ryder Cup and the Senior Open.

Carnoustie, Scotland

  • Years: 1931, 1937, 1953, 1968, 1975, 1999, 2007, 2018
  • Accessibility: Public

The Carnoustie was the second to last venue to be added to The Open Championship rotation and has hosted the tournament eight times. It is most known for its challenging finishing holes and is considered to feature one of the toughest back nines in championship golf. 

The course is famed for its numerous and formidable bunkers, many of which are impressively deep. Among its standout holes is the par five 6th, measuring 520 yards and famously known as “Hogan’s Alley” in honor of Ben Hogan, who claimed victory at The Open Championship in 1953.

Royal Troon, Scotland

  • Years: 1923, 1950, 1962, 1973, 1982, 1989, 1997, 2004, 2016
  • Accessibility: Private

Founded in 1878, Royal Troon is a traditional links layout that runs out and back along the Firth of Clyde. The initial holes feature short par fours, offering golfers the opportunity to enjoy breathtaking views. On clear days, players can marvel at the distant Ailsa Craig to the south and the imposing mountains of the Isle of Arran to the west.

Notably, the 6th hole stands as the longest par five in Open Championship history, while the iconic “Postage Stamp” 8th hole is the shortest par three on The Open circuit, measuring just 123 yards. The Royal Troon will host the Open Championship in 2024.

Turnberry, Scotland

  • Years: 1977, 1986, 1994, 2009
  • Accessibility: Resort (Public access for guests)

The Ailsa course at the Turnberry Resort is considered the most scenic Open Championship Venue. Perched on a rocky headland overlooking the small island of Ailsa Craig in the Firth of Clyde, the course offers breathtaking views across to the Mull of Kintyre and the Isle of Arran. 

One of Ailsa’s standout holes is the 9th, where players face a thrilling 248-yard shot over rugged terrain, with a clear view of the iconic lighthouse directly ahead from the tee.

Royal Portrush, Northern Ireland

  • Years: 1951, 2019
  • Accessibility: Private

Royal Portrush stands as a classic seaside links and holds the honor of being the only course to host The Open outside mainland Britain. The course is surrounded by the remains of Dunluce Castle, dating back to the 13th century, lending its name to Royal Portrush’s renowned Dunluce Links. 

The Open Championship returns to Royal Portrush in 2025.

Royal Cinque Ports, England

  • Years: 1909, 1920
  • Accessibility: Private

The Royal Cinque Ports has not seen The Open since 1920 but holds a rich heritage dating back to 1892. The course is characterized by undulating fairways, deep bunkers, and fast greens.

Royal Cinque Ports remains a cherished destination for golf enthusiasts seeking both history and a challenging round of golf in a picturesque setting.

Prince’s, England

  • Year: 1932
  • Accessibility: Public

The Prince’s Golf Club features 27 holes of exceptional championship links golf set in a beautiful coastal location. Following extensive redevelopment starting in 2017, the club hosted the prestigious 2023 Women’s Amateur Championship and served as the venue for The Open Championship’s Final Qualifying from 2018 to 2022.

Musselburgh, Scotland

  • Years: 1874, 1877, 1880, 1883, 1886, 1889, 1892
  • Accessibility: Public

Musselburgh Links is the world’s second oldest course and provides a plethora of history dating back to the 16th century. Musselburgh hosted its 6th and last Open Championship in 1889 and has hosted the Amateur Championship as well.

Where is The Open in 2024?

The Open in 2024 will be held at the Royal Troon Golf Club in South Ayrshire, Scotland. This will be the 10th Open Championship hosted at this iconic course. Visit our Open Championship 2024 page to learn more about accessibility for fans and golfers.

Conclusion

The Open venues hold a profound historical significance in the world of golf, making them a pilgrimage for enthusiasts and players alike. Each of these courses has witnessed some of the most iconic moments in the history of The Open Championship. For any golfer, playing these courses is a dream come true and presents a tradition that few other courses can match.

FAQs

The Open Championship is the oldest of the four major championships in professional golf and has been played since 1860.

The Open Championship, also known as the British Open, is held annually on the weekend of the third Friday in July.

The Open Championship Venues that are open to the public are St Andrews Old Course, Carnoustie, Turnberry Scotland, Prince’s, and Musselburgh. Visit our Open Championship page to find out how to play these iconic courses.

The 2025 Open Championship will be played at Royal Portrush July 13th-20th.