The ‘pencil and rubber’ Open
The outcome of the 1888 Open at St Andrews was determined as much by a sharp-eyed member of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club as by the efforts of the players involved. None of the favourites for the title coped well with the strong cold wind from the north that persisted throughout the day and it was diminutive Ben Sayers, only 5 feet 3 inches, who set the target with rounds of 85-87 for a 172 total.
This was soon matched by St Andrews pair Davie Anderson and Jack Burns, who had taken up the post of greenkeeper and professional at Warwick Golf Club, and a three-way play-off was in prospect when an R&A member who was looking over the scorecards in the clubhouse found that the figures on Burns’ card had been wrongly added up. When correctly totalled, he had a one-shot advantage over the other two.
The rule remains the same today — a player is responsible for ensuring the correct score is entered for each hole. Errors in addition should be checked and corrected by the event organisers. There were no fortunes to be made as Open champion in those days and within a few years Burns had returned to St Andrews to work on the railways.