The Open Championship History Guide

Unsurprisingly The Open Championship is steeped in history. First held way back in 1860 it is the oldest golf tournament in the world. It is called “The Open” due to the fact it is open to both Amateurs and Professionals.

The British Open History

Held on the Thursday before the third Friday in July, it was first held at Prestwick Golf Club in Ayrshire, Scotland. Allan Robertson was the early dominant force. In 1872 Prestwick, The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers and The Royal And Ancient Golf Club stumped up £30 to buy a Claret Jug which is presented to the winner.  If you are looking a fantastic betting preview including any amazing promotional offers we have that covered for you also!

Up until 1889 it was a one day event over 36 holes. Up until now it was dominated by Scotsman and hosted in Scotland, but the 1890’s saw various English winners whilst St Georges and Royal Liverpool were soon to host the championship.   

Americans began to enter the competition in the 1920’s with Walter Hagen the first winner from them shores. He went on to win the competition four times.   

The famous Sam Snead won the Open at St Andrews shortly after WW2. However, the growth of the PGA Tour and lucrative prize money meant less US entrants in the 1950’s whilst interestingly the American were also using a larger golf ball at this point.  

From 1959  we saw the ‘Big Three’ of Gary Player, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus come to the fore. Gary Player won the first of his three opens in 1959 whilst Palmer was successful in 1961 and 1962. Palmer’s success along with the invention of Television and the improvement in air travel helped American players and spectators buy into the event more than ever before. Jack Nicklaus bagged three Opens in 1966, 1970 and 1978 whilst fellow American Lee Trevino also won twice in 1971 and 1972. British wins were rare and the only success between 1959-1974 was Tony Jacklin.  

By now the importance of The Open was in no doubt and no other events clashed with the showpiece event. It was also by now that everyone was using the ‘bigger ball’  and the competition was held over four days. It should be noted that these four days were Wed-Sat until 1980. Tom Watson was massively successful during this period and one five Open Championships between 1975 and 1983. Other notable winners were Spaniard Seve Ballesteros (1979, 1984, 1988) who was the first continental winner since 1907. Englishman Nick Faldo won also won three times (1987, 1990, 1992) whilst Australian Greg Norman also won it more than once (1986, 1993).  

Since 2000 it has also been known as the ‘Tiger Woods Era’. He set a post war record when winning in 2000 by eight strokes and in doing so became the youngest player to complete the career grand slam, aged just 24. He has won three titles in total and the other other multiple winners since then are Padraig Harrington and Ernie Els who have both been successful twice.   

One of the most memorable Opens in recent years was in 2009 when 59-year-old Tom Watson bidded to become the oldest ever major winner and in doing so equal the record of six opens held by Harry Vardon. After only needing a par at the last to set history he bogeyed and ended up losing a four-hole play-off to Stewart Cink.   

2016 saw Henrik Stenson set an Open record when finishing -20 after an epic dual with previos Champion Phil Mickelson. The last two winners have been Italian and Irish in the shape of Francesco Molinari and Shane Lowry. Lowry’s victory came at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland, the first time it had been hosted their since the 1950’s. The Open Odds 2019 were well out for this one with Shane Lowry not in the top ten in the betting.   


The rules regarding courses hosting the Open since 1973 is that it is rotated between three Scottish and two English courses every five years. The only stipulation being that St Andrews must host it every five years. This trend was broken last year when Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland hosted it. The courses used in recent years have been:  

  • St Andrews  
  • Muirfield  
  • Royal St Georges  
  • Royal Liverpool   
  • Royal Troon  
  • Royal Lytham & St Annes  
  • Carnoustie  
  • Royal Portrush  
  • Royal Birkdale  
  • Turnberry  

The Open Records  

Oldest Winner – Old Tom Morris (46 years in 1867)  

Youngest Winner – Young Tom Morris (17 Years in 1868)  

Most Wins – Harry Vardon (6)  

Most Consecutive Victories – Young Tom Morris (4)  

Lowest Final Score – Henrik Stenson (-20)  

Lowest Round – Brandon Grace (62) * A record for all majors  

About Joe Kizlauskas

Joe is a seasoned iGaming copywriter and speaker who has been in the business since 2015. He's written more words on all elements of Casinos, Slots, Bingo & Sports Betting than he likes to remember, and he's contributed material to a number of well-known brands. Joe may be seen playing 5 a side, at the gym or playing games on his Playstation when he is not writing.