The British Open is coming up next week. The Open, as the Brit's and most everyone other than Americans call it, returns to the Old Course at St. Andrews for the twenty-eighth time, going back to 1873. The first Open was contested at Prestwick in 1860 where past and future green keeper of St. Andrews, Old Tom Morris had developed "one of the shrewdest tests of golf anywhere." Old Tom is credited with starting and promoting the original Open Championship - then known as the "Challenge Belt". WWF fans don't get too excited, now. Anyway, Scotsman Willie Park won that first Open.
Old Tom Morris rejoined the Royal and Ancient (St. Andrews) in 1864 with the specific objective of making the St. Andrews the best in Scotland. Most people think that the Old Course (known only as St. Andrews then since there was only one course) has hardly been touched, but over the next 40 years (1864 - 1904) the course was changed dramatically at the hand of Morris. When Old Tom arrived, the layout essentially played out and back on one fairway to small greens with two holes (outward and inward nines). The playing corridor was so narrow that many of the original bunkers had to be carried as the gorse and whin that lined the fairways left no option for playing around them. Allan Robertson, who preceded Morris, was credited with instituting two holes in each of the still rather small greens as well as with building the Road Bunker that fronts the treacherous 17th green.
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