Golf is one of the world’s oldest and most prestigious professional sports, with roots stretching back to the 1700s. Emblematic of high class and sophistication, iconic players such as Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy have ensured that golf remains one of the top 21st-century sports. Whether you’re betting or simply watching, there is nothing like enjoying prestigious tournaments such as The Open or The Masters.
Whether or not you want to place MLB bets today or zero in on one of the many professional golf tournaments available at US sportsbooks, knowing the biggest competitions will always be vital knowledge. Practically speaking, learning the key characteristics of each major event can help you place better predictions and generally enjoy the action more. However, learning the history of each tournament can also maximize your enjoyment. And trust us, there is a lot of history to talk about!
With that in mind, keep reading for some valuable insights into golf’s most significant tournaments. We’ll explore their history, past winners, key characteristics and more.
A history of competitive golf
Before we get into some actual examples, it’s worth taking a minute to explore the history of competitive golf as a whole. It’s one of the oldest sports still played today, making it ripe for historical exploration.
Dr. Benjamin Rush once said in the mid-1700s: “Golf is an exercise which is much used by a gentleman in Scotland……A man would live 10 years the longer for using this exercise once or twice a week”.
This simply proves the sport’s popularity, even 300 years ago. But golf has been around for far longer, with most historians agreeing that the game first earned bona fide competitive status back in 1502, when King James IV of Scotland started playing.
The first international golf match occurred in 1682 between Scottish and English players, sowing the seeds for what was to come in later centuries. By the 1800s, professional golf had spread across the world, most notably in America, where it became incredibly popular. It’s no surprise that three of the four golfing majors are played on US soil.
Some of golf’s oldest and most prestigious tournaments
With a very brief exploration of competitive golf’s history out of the way, we can now turn to concrete examples of the most prestigious tournaments. All competitors were directly inspired by the first international golfing matches, but we’re not sure the originators back in the 17th century could have ever predicted how popular the sport would become. Here are the top five most prestigious competitions to get to know:
Established in 1860, The Open is the world’s oldest golf tournament. Taking place annually in July, it originally called Scotland’s Prestwick Golf Club home, but now moves between several links courses across the UK. The tournament is notable for being open to professionals and amateurs, which has resulted in several exciting runs by outsiders over the past century and a half. Spectators also enjoy the iconic links coastal courses, which are the closest things to the original golf courses back in the 16th century. As a result, The Open displays golf’s rich heritage and is arguably the most prestigious of the four majors.
The Masters is another one of the four major golf championships. It was established in 1934, taking place at the now-legendary Augusta National Golf Club. The Masters has several traditions, cementing its place in the pantheon of iconic golf tournaments. For example, the famous green jacket awarded to the winner has a strict set of rules and must be returned before the start of the next championship. Jack Nicklaus holds the record the for the most Masters trophies, winning the competition six times between 1963 and 1986.
The PGA Championship, originating in 1916, is the Professional Golfers’ Association of America’s flagship tournament. It’s another of the four majors, known for being the proving ground for several legendary golfers over the last century or so. Taking place annually in May as of 2019, the PGA Championship has a significant prize purse of $18,000,000, one of the largest available in professional golf.
The US Open is the oldest American major golf tournament, starting life back in 1895 at the Los Angeles Country Club. The competition involves 72 holes across four rounds, pitting the sport’s best players against each other for a share of the $20,000,000 prize fund. British players dominated the US Open in the early 1900s, although this all changed as time went on and American golfers caught up with their transatlantic compatriots.