“A tremendous wind is blowing and the slightest letting up will see your ball sailing away like a seagulls feather across the down platform of Prestwick station.” So writes Henry Longhurst describing the opening shot of one of my favorite courses and the first host to the Open Championship. Although short, it is hard to beat the opening hole at Prestwick for a challenge without being warmed up. The whole scene at Prestwick is enthralling: the historic quaint clubhouse, the railway line close by over the stone wall on your right, the thrill of the passing trains and the hallowed golfing grounds.
Among Prestwick’s many distinctions are hosting the Open Championship a total of twenty-four times. Winners of the Open at Prestwick include Harry Vardon, James Braid, Willie Auchterionie, Willie Park and Willie Park, Jr, Tom Morris and Tom Morris, Jr. From its inception in 1860 through 1870 the Open was played every year at Prestwick in three rounds of twelve holes. Prestwick has also hosted the British Amateur on eleven occasions with winners including John Ball, Jr. and Harold Hilton. Tom Morris help lay out Prestwick and served as “Keeper of the Green.”
Its world famous holes include the Cardinal, Alps and the Himalayas. It is no wonder that when Bernard Darwin talks of Prestwick he says it is making a pilgrimage to the shrine.
The first club history published about this Ayrshire beauty was Prestwick Golf Club, a History and Some Records (D & J S15520) written by James E. Shaw in 1938 and published in Glasgow. The book is 143 pages and bound in cloth. The history is chocked full of iconic black and white pictures of early golfers, sporting less than perfect swings. They are also wearing all manner of outfits including suits, bowling hats, wing collars and many are smoking pipes or cigars while swinging. The book gives a detailed history of the course and its evolution. A really interesting part of the book are the five fold-out maps of the course at the end, showing its evolution over time from a twelve hole to an eighteen hole course of various lengths.
Prestwick Golf Club, Birthplace of The Open: the club, the members and the championships 1851-1989 was written by David Cameron Smail in 1989. It was privately printed in a limited edition of 1,250. 250 copies were produced with a leather slipcase (D & J S22390), and 1,000 in decorative leatherette (D & J S22420). The 237 page large format book is a worthy history for this historic club. It gives you a good feel not only for the rich history of Prestwick but also gives a look inside the historic clubhouse. Oh, the joys of sitting in the Smoke Room watching groups teeing off on a fine summer day! Or, enjoying a multi-course lunch or dinner in the warm green-hued member’s dining room. There are few finer days in golf that a full day at Prestwick and this history brings them alive.
Two subsequent booklets about Prestwick were published after the two club histories: Prestwick Golf Club: birthplace of the Open (D & J P18910), Privately Printed circa 2001 is ten pages. And the Prestwick Golf Club: birthplace of the Open (D & J P18940), was Privately Printed circa 1980 and is 16 pages.