If you are a fan of pure links golf and the history of the game, as much as The Old Course at St Andrews, you need to put Prestwick golf course on your bucket list.
Prestwick Golf Club was founded in 1851 and the first professional, keeper of the green, ball and clubmaker was also the original course designer – Old Tom Morris. At that time, it was traditional that the pro was given a cottage. So Tom, his wife and baby son Tommy lived in Prestwick, Scotland until 1864 when they moved back to St Andrews. Today’s professional is only the seventh in the history of the Club.
The course at that time consisted of twelve holes and the first twelve Open Championships were held at Prestwick (1860-1870 & 1872). Most were won by Old and Young Morris, playing multiple loops of the 12-hole routing. A cairn near the clubhouse today marks the spot where the first tee shot in 1860 was struck. Prestwick went on to host 24 Open Championships, the last in 1925. That year Old Tom Morris, in addition to his name on the Claret Jug and a medal for the Champion Golfer of the Year, received the princely sum of £75, much less than today’s green fee.
Morris loved the natural topography that the land displayed and routed a course over rather than around the dunes. Thus, giving the course its deserved quirky and difficult reputation. These dunes formed some of the most memorable holes in golf, several of which survive today.
The course was extended to 18 holes in 1872 and many of the original holes were lost. The blind 5th, a 231-yard par 3 requiring the tee shot be sent over tee color-coordinated railway ties to find the putting surface, remains. As does the 17th (originally the 2nd) requiring a completely blind shot to the green with the aptly named Sahara bunker ready to capture shots left short.
Prestwick offers a warm welcome to all visitors and allow time to take in the wonderful memorabilia displayed in the clubhouse. Make sure you sample a Pimms and a Kummel (along with The Honorable Company of Edinburgh Golfers and The Royal and Ancient the three clubs account for most of the world’s consumption of the anise liquor, a 19th hole tradition). The Prestwick Pro Shop is one of the best in golf and offers perfect keepsakes to wear and display.
The Prestwick Experience takes it one step further and allows a limited number of visiting golfers to truly be a “member for a day.” Participants are invited to have a three-course lunch at the long table in the Members Dining Room and enjoy the Main Lounge during their visit. Being a traditional club, gentlemen are required to wear a jacket and tie during lunch and ladies appropriate non-golf attire.
Experience a variety of Open Rota courses, including Prestwick, the birthplace of the Open Championship in 1960 and Royal Troon.
The newly refurbished Ailsa course at Trump Turnberry offers 14 particularly stunning holes along the coastline.
Combine an Ayrshire Golf Tour with St Andrews or Edinburgh & East Lothian for the ultimate Scottish golf tour.