Throwback Thursday: Prestwick bids the Open farewell

The Scoop

MacDonald Smith crosses the burn at the final Open to be held at Prestwick on June 26, 1925. NCG takes a look back in the history books...

The Background

Prestwick, formed in 1851 by a group of 57 members who used to meet regularly at the Red Lion Inn, was less than 10 years old when it played host to the first Open Championship in October 1860.

There were only eight competitors. Willie Park Snr beat Old Tom Morris, who was Prestwick’s first keeper of the green, as well as a ball and clubmaker, by two strokes. One of the sport’s most enduring competitions began in style at an Ayrshire course that continues to beguile to this day.

The Scene

Health and safety officials would now look on in horror as the players traversed the rickety-looking wooden crossing during the 1925 Open. This one is significant because it was the 24th, and last, staged at Prestwick.

It was 65 years after the first. To this day, only the Old Course at St Andrews has staged the event on more occasions.

The cramped nature of the layout, which resulted in the many thousands of spectators overwhelming the marshals, means it has never returned.

The Moment

MacDonald Smith’s Open was already unravelling as he fended off the huge crowds and crossed the tiny bridge during the second day of competition.

The Scottish-born American citizen had led after the first day following efforts of 76 and 69 but he collapsed to an 82 in the final round on his way to finishing fourth.

It was a similarly naturalised American, Cornwall’s Jim Barnes, who would lift the Claret Jug – rounds of 70, 77, 79 and 74 edging him one shot clear of Archie Compston.

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