Guide to The Open Championship’s 150-year history

Since 1860 when it began, The Open has been held at 14 different golf courses across England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. In 2022, it returned to the home of golf, St Andrews, on its 150th event for four days of thrilling action from the world’s finest golfers.

The 2021 winner, Colin Morikawa, took the glory at Royal St Georges Golf Club in Lytham. In 2022, the winner was Cameron Smith from Australia. 

The Swilcan Bridge at St Andrews Old CourseThe Open’s History

We take a brief look at the rich history of The Open event as it’s evolved over the last century and a half.

1860 – How The Open began. The 1st Open is played in 1860 at Prestwick, in Scotland. Willie Park Senior becomes the first ever winner of The Open.

1862 Tom Morris Senior wins The Open by 13 strokes – an Open record that still stands to this day.

1872 – The iconic silver claret jug was introduced after Prestwick, the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers and The Royal and Ancient Golf Club all agreed to pool £10 each towards creating it.

1873 – The Open was played at St Andrews for the first time.

Views on a green at St Andrews Old Course

1907 – Frenchman Arnaud Massy becomes the first non-British winner.

1921 – Eleven US golfers travel to Scotland to take part after Golf Illustrated magazine launched a successful campaign to obtain funding for them

1922 – Walter Hagen becomes the first US winner of the competition and goes on to win an additional three times in his playing career.

1939 – Englishman Dick Burton wins the event before a break between 1940 and 1945 due to the outbreak of World War II.  

1946 – The Open returns to St Andrews after World War II is over.

1953 – Ben Hogan adds The Open after already winning the Masters and US Open, to receive the ‘Triple Crown’. He returned to New York City and received a ticker-tape parade such was the feat of his achievement. 

1959 – South African sensation Gary Player wins the first of his three Opens. The following years see Player, Arnold Palmer, and Jack Nicklaus tussle year after year

1961 – Arnold Palmer wins his first Open Championship after coming second in his first attempt in the previous year. He went on to retain the title in 1962.

1977 – Turnberry hosted the event for the first time which saw Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus duel before Watson took the title in one of golf’s most dramatic contests as it went to the final shot.

1980 – Tom Watson continues his incredible form in the competition by winning the third of his five Open titles, this time at Muirfield, with additional wins in 1982 and 1983 at Royal Troon and Royal Birkdale respectively.

1994 – For the next ten years, the competition was won by a first time winner every year including wins for Nick Price, John Daly, Paul Lawrie, and David Duvall.

1999 – Jean van de Velde (ranked 152nd in the world) loses a three shot lead to eventual winner Paul Lawrie on the 18th hole after being in pole position in the competition, resulting in those iconic scenes of him removing his shoes and socks to inspect the feasibility of playing out from Barry Burn, the water hazard.  

2000 – Tiger Woods becomes champion at St Andrews at age 24, winning by a post war record of 8 strokes. 

2020 – The Open Championship is cancelled for the first time since World War II due to the Covid-19 pandemic..

2021 – The competition returned at the proposed venue for 2020, Royal St Georges, which was cancelled due to the pandemic, allowing for St Andrews to host the 150th event in 2022. 

2022 – The 2022 Open played at the Old Course in St Andrews. It was won by Australian Cameron Young.

When Is The Open Championship Usually Held?

The Open Championship takes place in July on a rotation between selected venues. This competition is one of the four men’s major golf tournaments (Masters, PGA Championship & US Open the other three). 

The 150th Open

Where was the 150th Open Championship Played?

The 150th Open Championship was played at St Andrews Old Course in 2022.

St Andrews Old Course is a Par 72 and stretches 7,305 yards. The course record is 61 shot by European Tour member Ross Fisher in 2017. It has iconic characteristics including The Swilcan Bridge, Hell Bunker (as well as the other 111 bunkers!) and its position by the coast with its unforgiving elements.  

St Andrews Old Course

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