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History of The Open

Prize money at The Open

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1860-2021

Collin Morikawa poses with the Claret Jug and the Gold Medal

Few things illustrate the enormous growth of The Open as clearly as the increasing prize money on offer at golf’s original Championship over the years.

As we count down the days to the landmark 150th Open at St Andrews in July 2022, we explore how the total purse on offer has changed through the decades.

1860-1862: No prize money

Not a single penny was on offer at the first three editions of The Open, with Willie Park Snr’s victory in 1860 and Old Tom Morris’ back-to-back triumphs in 1861 and 1862 rewarded only with possession of the Challenge Belt.

Park and Morris may not have benefited financially from their early successes at The Open, but both men undoubtedly hold a special place in the annals of golfing history.

1863 – Total purse: £10

When Park triumphed for a second time in 1863, a pot of £10 was shared equally among the eight professionals in a 14-man field.

1864 – Total purse: £15

While the previous year offered up money for the first time, a first-prize incentive was first given out at The 5th Open in 1864, where Old Tom Morris earned £6 with his victory, 40% of the £15 total pot.

1893 – Total purse: £100

The prize fund fluctuated significantly throughout the 1870s and 1880s, twice rising up towards £50 only to then dip back down to as little as £20 in future years. However, the 1890s saw a lasting rise and exactly £100 was on offer for seven Opens in succession from 1893. A total of £125 was then available at every Open in the following decade, with £50 going to the Champion each year at the start of the 20th century.

1931 – Total purse: £500

Tommy Armpur receives the Claret Jug in 1931

Tommy Armour, the Champion Golfer of 1931

When Tommy Armour won at Carnoustie in 1931, the total prize fund had reached £500 for the first time, with £100 going to the Champion Golfer. This would remain the case at every Open up to and including the Championship of 1939.

1946 – Total purse: £1,000

The first Open after World War II offered £1,000 in prize money, double the amount that had been on offer in each of the nine previous Championships.

1965 – Total purse: £10,000

By the mid-1960s, a revitalised Championship boosted by the success of Arnold Palmer was starting to see its purse increase at a faster rate. Peter Thomson received £1,750 for his fifth Open win in 1965, more than twice as much as he earned when first lifting the Claret Jug in 1954.

1977 – Total purse: £100,000

The Open of 1977 is widely regarded as one of the finest Championships in history, thanks to the iconic Duel in the Sun between Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus. It was also the first Championship to offer a six-figure purse, with Watson winning £10,000 through his victory..

1993 – Total purse: £1,000,000

By the time Greg Norman claimed his second Open win at Royal St George’s in 1993, the Championship had a £1million prize pool. Norman’s share of that kitty was £100,000.

2011 – Total purse: £5,000,000

The title of Champion Golfer was ever more lucrative when Darren Clarke emerged victorious at Sandwich a decade ago. A total purse of £5,000,000 represented a five-fold increase on 1993, but the Champion’s prize had been multiplied by nine, meaning Clarke picked up £900,000 along with the Gold Medal and the Claret Jug.

2017 – Total purse: $10,250,000

Jordan Spieth receives the Claret Jug at Royal Birkdale

Jordan Spieth receives the Claret Jug at Royal Birkdale

The 146th Open at Royal Birkdale saw the prize fund displayed in US dollars rather than pounds sterling for the first time. A purse of just over $10m – equivalent to approximately £7.8m – represented a substantial increase on the money available at the previous year’s Championship at Royal Troon.

2021 – Total purse: $11,500,000

A total of $11.5m was shared among the participants in The 149th Open, with Champion Golfer of the Year Collin Morikawa becoming the first Open winner to receive over S2m.

Total prize funds at The Open from 1860-2021

1860: No prize money
1861: No prize money
1862: No prize money
1863: £10
1864: £15
1865: £20
1866: £11
1867: £16
1868: £12
1869: £12
1870: £12
1871: No Championship
1872: Not known
1873: Not known
1874: £20
1875: £20
1876: £27
1877: £20
1878: Not known
1879: £47
1880: Not known
1881: £21
1882: £47 5s
1883: £20
1884: £23
1885: £35 10s
1886: £20
1887: £20
1888: £20
1889: £22
1890: £29 10s
1891: £28 10s
1892: £110
1893: £100
1894: £100
1895: £100
1896: £100
1897: £100
1898: £100
1899: £100
1900: £125
1901: £125
1902: £125
1903: £125
1904: £125
1905: £125
1906: £125
1907: £125
1908: £125
1909: £125
1910: £135
1911: £135
1912: £135
1913: £135
1914: £135
1915-1919: No Championship
1920: £225
1921: £225
1922: £225
1923: £225
1924: £225
1925: £225
1926: £225

Bobby Jones receives the Claret Jug at Royal Lytham & St Annes in 1926

Bobby Jones receives the Claret Jug for the first time at Royal Lytham & St Annes

1927: £275
1928: £275
1929: £275
1930: £400
1931: £500
1932: £500
1933: £500
1934: £500
1935: £500
1936: £500
1937: £500
1938: £500
1939: £500
1940-1945: No Championship
1946: £1,000
1947: £1,000
1948: £1,000
1949: £1,500
1950: £1,500
1951: £1,700
1952: £1,700
1953: £2,500
1954: £3,500
1955: £3,750
1956: £3,750
1957: £3,750
1958: £4,850
1959: £5,000
1960: £7,000
1961: £8,500
1962: £8,500
1963: £8,500
1964: £8,500
1965: £10,000
1966: £15,000
1967: £15,000
1968: £20,000
1969: £30,000

Tony Jacklin, the Champion Golfer of 1969

Tony Jacklin relaxes beside the Claret Jug following his Open win in 1969

1970: £40,000
1971: £45,000
1972: £50,000
1973: £50,000
1974: £50,000
1975: £75,000
1976: £75,000
1977: £100,000
1978: £125,000
1979: £155,000
1980: £200,000
1981: £200,000
1982: £250,000
1983: £310,000
1984: £451,000
1985: £530,000
1986: £600,000
1987: £650,000
1988: £700,000
1989: £750,000
1990: £825,000
1991: £900,000
1992: £950,000
1993: £1,000,000
1994: £1,100,000
1995: £1,250,000
1996: £1,400,000
1997: £1,600,000
1998: £1,800,000
1999: £2,000,000
2000: £2,750,000
2001: £3,300,000
2002: £3,800,000
2003: £3,900,000
2004: £4,000,000
2005: £4,000,000
2006: £4,000,000
2007: £4,200,000
2008: £4,200,000
2009: £4,200,000
2010: £4,800,000
2011: £5,000,000
2012: £5,000,000
2013: £5,250,000
2014: £5,400,000
2015: £6,300,000
2016: £6,500,000
2017: $10,250,000
2018: $10,500,000
2019: $10,750,000
2020: No Championship
2021: $11,500,000

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