A century ago the legendary golf writer Bernard Darwin stated that “a man is less likely to be contradicted in lauding Prestwick than in singing the praises of any other course in Christendom”.
How times have changed as nowadays, there are few courses as famous that attract more contention. Put simply, not all first-time visitors fully appreciate that this a links like no other.
Taken at face value, it is an extraordinary course, packed with holes that to the modern eye are nothing less than outrageous.
It must be borne in mind that the concept of par had yet to be invented when Old Tom Morris originally designed the 12-hole layout that only became the 18 we see today in 1883. In other words, the challenge on each and every hole is simply to get the ball in the hole in as few strokes as possible.
In between and around these trademark holes, the golf is worthy, sometimes outstanding, but never less than subtle. And unless you have played the course several times, completely overshadowed. It takes an open mind to get the most out of a visit here and if it is modern, championship golf you are after then, frankly, there are many other places you should consider first.
But for anyone with a golfing soul, who is in any way interested in the game’s past, who wants to get a flavour of the challenges posed many years ago, who has a sense of adventure and is prepared to engage their brains, it remains quite simply a must-play.
Prestwick is in many ways a museum piece, a shrine to the days 150 years ago when it hosted the first Open Championship – and indeed 23 further ones between then and 1925. Not even its fondest admirers would deny that several of the holes would have no place on a contemporary championship course.
But then quite why they should is another question, and in any case who is to say that the modern version of the game is any better than that which the likes of Old Tom Morris, appointed keeper of the greens here in 1851, Willie Park and Young Tom Morris excelled at all that time ago?
Why it’s special
For anyone with a golfing soul, who is in any way interested in the game’s past, who wants to get a flavour of the challenges posed many years ago, who has a sense of adventure and is prepared to engage their brains, it remains quite simply a must-play.
Where does it rank?
Where is Prestwick?
Prestwick is located on the west coast of Scotland in South Ayrshire.
Get in touch
For more information about the club and course, visit the Prestwick Golf Club website or call 01292 477 404.