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The 152nd Open

A Tartan tale


Scotland's love of The Open

Royal Troon 8th Postage Stamp

Born, weaned and raised in Scotland, The Open Championship returns to its spiritual homeland in 2024.

The inaugural Open, staged in 1860, was an entirely Scottish affair, made up of eight native professionals competing at Prestwick Golf Club.

Golf's original major returns to Ayrshire this year to neighbouring Royal Troon, one of seven storied Scottish courses to have fulfilled hosting duties – with each of them special in their own unique way.

Royal Troon

Royal Troon’s Old Course was founded in 1878, expanded to 18 holes a decade later and re-designed by five-time Champion Golfer James Braid ahead of its first Open in 1923.

The course is designed in the traditional out-and-back style, beginning through some of the UK’s most striking links land and finishing with a back nine as tough as any in the world.

That said, Troon can be low-scoring and the last Open held on the Ayrshire coast yielded the joint-lowest winning Open score in history; 20-under-par from Henrik Stenson.

Henrik Stenson Claret Jug 2016

The first Open held at Troon, some 101 years ago, was won by England's Arthur Havers after he holed a bunker shot on the 72nd to win his only major title.

Four-time champion Bobby Locke produced a then-record five-under-par to win in 1950 before a chain of six successive American winners, which included Arnold Palmer and Tom Watson, ended with a triumph from Swede Stenson in 2016.

Troon is also home to the shortest hole in Open Championship golf, the par-3 8th, otherwise known as the Postage Stamp, which measures just 123 yards.

St Andrews

The home of golf and the world’s oldest golf course, St Andrews is a venue like no other.

As Tiger Woods once said: "Playing at St Andrews is literally the best. It's like going back in time.”

St Andrews hole 18

The Old Course has hosted more Opens than any other venue and holds a special place in the hearts of players and fans alike.

Golf was first played on the links at St Andrews in the early 15th century and in 1764 the course was reduced from 22 to 18 holes, creating what became the standard playing round throughout the world.

Tom Kidd won the first Open played at the seaside town on his home course back in 1873, winning £11 for his troubles.

Some of golf’s greats have gone on to triumph subsequently, from Sam Snead to Jack Nicklaus and Seve Ballesteros to Woods.

In 2022, The 150th Open was held in front of record crowds and culminated in a thrilling finish as Australian Cameron Smith surged to a maiden major victory.


Known as ‘Golf’s Greatest Test’, Carnoustie has played host to The Open eight times.

Tiger Woods Carnoustie 1999

Golf has been played on the Angus links, the most northerly course on the Open rota, since the early 16th century, and in that time Carnoustie has earned a well-deserved reputation as one of the toughest courses in the world with its unpredictable weather and narrow fairways.

The final four holes in particular are famous around the world, leading to many dramatic finishes and nail-biting play-offs down the years.

Tommy Armour, who popularised the term yips, was the first to lift the Claret Jug at Carnoustie in 1931, before Henry Cotton broke a streak of eight straight American wins six years later.

Arguably the most famous Carnoustie triumph is Paul Lawrie’s sole major success of 1999, when the Scot staged the biggest final round comeback in major championship history to beat Justin Leonard and Jean van de Velde in a three-way play-off.

Paul Lawrie with the Claret Jug in 1999


Home to the oldest golf club in existence, the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers  who were responsible for producing the very first Rules of Golf  Muirfield is steeped in history.

The course is arguably the fairest and most straightforward of any Open venue and has hosted the Championship 16 times, the last of which came in 2013.

Located in Gullane, East Lothian, the course was designed by Old Tom Morris and is unusual for its layout with two loops of nine holes, one clockwise and one anticlockwise.

Nicklaus won the first of his three Open Championships at Muirfield in 1966, completing the first of his three career Grand Slams.

The game’s very best have historically raised their game to strike gold at Muirfield, notably Nick Faldo’s late rally to victory in 1992 and Phil Mickelson’s final round charge in 2013, when he became just the second left-hander to win The Open.

Phil Mickelson, the Champion Golfer of 2013


The scene of one of the greatest battles in Championship history, Turnberry’s first Open remains arguably the most famous of all time.

'The Duel in the Sun' between Watson and Nicklaus was simply one of the greatest golfing spectacles ever, with the former triumphing by a single stroke at the end of an immense weekend-long tussle.

Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus at Turnberry, 1977

Watson was again the protagonist in 2009 when gunning for glory at the age of 59, 26 years on from his last major triumph, only to be pipped in a play-off by Stewart Cink.

Greg Norman and Nick Price have also been crowned Champion Golfer at Turnberry. Along with Royal Troon, it is the Scottish only venue on the Open circuit which has failed to produce a native winner.  

Established in 1906, the course closed for military purposes during both World Wars before re-opening in 1951 after a facelift.


While Prestwick no longer plays host to The Open, its record of having hosted the Championship is bettered only by St Andrews.

Both Old and Young Tom Morris, Willie Park Snr and Harry Vardon won at the Ayrshire venue, which has been stood down from active Championship duty since 1925.

It retains a very special place in Open history, having hosted the first dozen Opens between 1860 and 1872.

Of the 24 Opens staged at Prestwick, a combined eight have been won by Old Tom Morris  who remains the oldest winner in Open history at 46  and Young Tom Morris, who is still the youngest Champion Golfer, triumphing aged 17 in 1868.


Musselburgh Links played a critical part in the early development of The Open with the first ever champion, Willie Park Snr., having been based there.

Initially hosting the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, the original holes have been little changed with evidence suggesting that golf has been played on the Musselburgh Links since as early as 1672.

Publicly owned and administered by East Lothian Council, the course boasts nine holes, the last of which was added in 1870.

Alongside Prestwick and St Andrews, Musselburgh was used in rotation throughout the 1870s and 1880s, hosting six Opens in all, dropping out of the inner circle when the Honourable Company built a private club at Muirfield.

The course’s influence on golf has not dwindled over time – the four-and-a-quarter-inch diameter of a golf hole was the width of the implement used to cut the holes at Musselburgh and The R&A adopted the measurement in 1893 as a mandatory requirement for all courses.

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