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History of The Open

How Allan Robertson inspired The 1st Open


Championship celebrates 163rd anniversary

Prestwick Golf Club, the site for The 1st Open

Allan Robertson never had the opportunity to play in The Open, but he was undoubtedly the catalyst for the formation of the Championship 163 years ago.

17 October 2023 marks the anniversary of The 1st Open, which took place at Prestwick in 1860.

In a special film released in 2020, film-maker Erik Anders Lang explored the roots of golf’s original Championship.

As Lang discovered on a visit to Prestwick, the reason for The Open’s creation was the death of Robertson, a man regarded as the finest player in Scotland, in 1859.

“During the time leading up to the origin of The Open Championship, Robertson’s skill was unmatched,” Lang explains in ‘A Brief History of The Open’.

“When he died no one knew who the best golfer was, so a contest was developed to decide the name of the Champion Golfer of the Year.

“And so, The Open was born, as a way to find a new Champion and perhaps as a memorial to Allan Robertson himself.”

The prowess of Robertson was highlighted by Ken Goodwin, the secretary at Prestwick.

Goodwin told Lang: “Robertson was the first man to break 80 around the Old Course at St Andrews. It’s said that he never lost a money match playing on his own and he was known as the Champion Golfer of Scotland.”

Erik Anders Lang at the British Golf Museum at St Andrews

Erik Anders Lang learns more about The Open's origins at the British Golf Museum

Following Robertson’s death, it was the members of Prestwick who organised The 1st Open.

Willie Park Snr duly prevailed to earn a place in history as the very first Champion Golfer, but Robertson will always be the man who inspired The Open’s creation.