We call St Andrews the ‘Home of Golf’. It’s the modern Mecca of the game and a pilgrimage to the ‘hallowed’ links of the Old Course brings tens of thousands of visitors every year to the Fife coast.
But it’s pre-eminence wasn’t always so clear cut. Though you can almost miss the old links of Musselburgh as you’re travelling around Edinburgh, in the mid to late 19th century this small town was known as the ‘Cradle of Golf’ – and it produced some of the finest players who’ve ever lived.
Five Open winners came from Musselburgh and, between 1860 and 1889, they won the championship belt, and subsequent Claret Jug, on 11 occasions. The town’s famous nine-hole course also played a pivotal role in the development of the world’s oldest major.
In fact, you cannot consider the growth of the game without taking account of the influence of the Parks and Dunns – to name just two of the famous families who helped pave the way for the multi-billion industry we know today.
Mungo Park is the great grandson of Willie Park Sr, the first Open champion in 1860, and the great nephew of Willie Park Jr, who won the Claret Jug in 1887 and 1889.
His grandfather, also Mungo, helped expand golf in South America – winning the first Argentine Open in 1905.
He joins me on the From the Clubhouse podcast to consider the legacy of Musselburgh. We look back at a time when it ruled the golfing world, how it became a victim of its own success, and why even its decline was hugely important in establishing golf as a global game…
The From the Clubhouse podcast with Mungo Park
Listen to the full episode below, or search ‘The NCG Podcast’ in your preferred podcast platform.
- Related: How golf’s most famous street nearly tore St Andrews apart
- Related: Old Tom and the most remarkable golf pictures ever collected
- Related: Where does Musselburgh Links rank in our list of East Lothian’s best courses?
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