The British Open, often referred to as The Open Championship or The Open, is the oldest of all the golfing majors and was first played in 1860 at Preswick Golf Club, Prestwick, South Ayrshire, Scotland.
The Open is administered by The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews – the oldest and most prestigious golf club in the world – which has been running the rules of golf since 1754, thus making it one of the governing bodies of golf.
Located at the St Andrews Golf Club in Fife, Scotland, also known as the ‘Home of Golf’, The Royal and Ancient golf club of St Andrews is affiliated to the United Golf Association, and in 2004 The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews handed over this role to newly formed companies collectively known as The R & A.
The Open Championship is played on rotation at various golf courses throughout Great Britain and Northern Ireland, this year it’s Carnoustie Golf Club in Scotland’s turn to host.
Carnoustie has a long and proud history. It was formally instituted in 1842, but records show that the club existed for a number of years prior to that. This makes Carnoustie one of the ten oldest golf clubs in the world, giving the club a unique position in world golfing history.
Members of Carnoustie Golf Club have won many prestigious golfing events. The members at Carnoustie have also played an active part in the worldwide development of golf in the United Kingdom, America and Australia. In fact they have had their hand in many other countries such as Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Guatemala, India, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, Sweden and Switzerland, helping to grow golf even more.
The seven previous winners of the Open Championship at Carnoustie are Tommy Armour (US) in 1931, Henry Cotton (Eng) in 1937, Ben Hogan (US) in 1953, Gary Player (SA) in 1968, Tom Watson (US) in 1975, Paul Lawrie (SCO) in 1999 and Padraid Harrington (IRE) in 2007.
In this article we are going to focus a little on Ben Hogan.
In 1953, Ben Hogan, the legendary American golfer, came to Scotland a few weeks early to get used to the conditions as a first timer to British Links golf, and the Scottish fans appreciated Hogan’s meticulous approach of how to play the course.
First he walked the golf course from the 18th green to the 1st tee. Backwards this creates a more open prospectus of the golf course and also makes you less worried about the Hazards the golf course has to offer.
Legend has it that he hit three tee shots of every tee on to the fairway, one tee shot left of centre, one tee shot to the middle of the fairway and one tee shot right of centre, to find the best angle into the green from his next shot.
Furthermore, Hole 6 on the Championship Course at Carnoustie is a par 5 with a split fairway. The safer play is go up the much wider right side, but the better line (leaving the better set-up for the approach shot into the green) is up the narrower and more dangerous left side.
During the 1953 tournament, Hogan played up the more dangerous left fairway – bunkers on one side of the tight landing area, out-of-bounds on the other – all four days. All four days he hit his target. And he won the tournament.
After that, the hole became nicknamed “Hogan’s Alley”.
During a ceremony in 2003, Carnoustie officially renamed the hole Hogan’s Alley. (The hole’s original name was “Long”.)
Though the Scots adored Hogan, he wasn’t too keen on the course. It was his first, and last, appearance at the British Open.
So in 1953 Ben Hogan played in six tournaments winning three Majors two main tour events and picked up a 3rd place in a non-official tournament. Because the British Open that year clashed with the PGA Championship in America it made it impossible for Ben Hogan to win all four majors in one year so the press dubbed it the “Hogan Slam” or “Hogan’s Triple Crown”.
After returning to New York from Scotland, Ben Hogan affectionately known by the Scottish golf fans as “Wee Ice Mon” was greeted with a ticker-tape parade. It was the first time a golfer had been so honoured since Jones in 1930.
Lets hope that the Open Championship this year will create another great golfer .
Happy golfing to all!
Good golfing to all!
Text by Martin Platts
Martin Platts (British) P.G.A., Director of the Golf Guru International Golf Academy, has been involved in competitive golf for 40 years, 30 as a professional. He has coached players of all levels from beginners to Ryder Cup tour professionals. Visit TheGolfGuru.com