The Birthplace of Golf
When the British Open is played at St Andrews, it is a special event because the tour comes to the place where the game of golf was invented. Although the citizens of the town of St Andrews, Fife, Scotland were officially given the right to play golf on the course in 1552, the game had actually been played there since the 1100’s. According to opengolf.com, golf was invented when shepherds in St Andrews would pass the time by hitting rocks into rabbit holes. For several hundred years, the original course, or “The Old Course,” contained 22 holes. In the 1700’s, the course was shortened to 18 holes and that has become the standard format of golf courses around the world. One of the unique features of St Andrews that is still present today are the “double greens” on most holes, in which one large green is actually shared by two holes.
The British Open Comes to St Andrews
Started in 1860, the British Open was played exclusively at Prestwick through 1872. Finally, three courses comprised a rotation of usage, beginning with St Andrews in 1873. As with all early British Opens, the first several championships at St Andrews were won by Scotland. The first British Open won by a non-Brit was in 1921 when Jock Hutchison, who was born in Scotland but had become a U.S. citizen, won in a thrilling playoff. Click here to see rare actual video footage of the 1921 British Open at St Andrews. In 1927, American Bobby Jones became the first and last amateur to win the British Open at St Andrews.
Post World War II
In the first British Open played after World War II, American Sam Snead brought home the Claret Jug with a score of two under par at St Andrews. Another thrilling British Open at St Andrews was in 1960, when American Arnold Palmer lost by one stroke to Australian Kel Nagle. Unquestionably the most dominating performance ever at a St Andrews British Open was the 2000 championship when Tiger Woods shot -19. In 2005, Woods won his second straight St Andrews British Open with another outstanding score of -14. An odd fact about St Andrews is that although 27 British Open championships have been played there, the career leader in Open victories, Harry Vardon with six Claret Jugs, never won at St Andrews.
“The Old Course at St. Andrews”, opengolf.com
“Previous Opens (by venue)”, opengolf.com
Other great British Open articles on associatedcontent.com.
The Majesty and Tradition of the British Open
The Five Greatest British Opens
The Five Greatest British Open Performances