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Packed with blind shots, drivable par 4s, desert-sized bunkers and rollercoaster greens, Prestwick is a living link with the game’s past
Prestwick Golf Club Course Review
Top 100 Ranking 2021/22 - 44
Previous Rankings 2019/20 - 42 2017/18 - 43 2015/16 - 46 2013/14 - 43 2011/12 - 43 2009/10 - 55
Summer Green Fees
Round: £145-£210wd, £160-£240 Sun; Day: £210-£285wd, £225-£315 Sun
Visitor Times: Weekday - play between 8am and 9am is limited to twoballs; no play before 10.15am on Thursdays. Weekends - limited times available on Sunday mornings and afternoons
Medal Tee: Par 71 – 6,551 Yards
Changes since previous ranking
No significant changes advised.
Prestwick Golf Club Course Review
It can sometimes be easy to forget that St Andrews is not the true home of The Open. No, the first 12 Opens were played on an Ayrshire links that was less than a decade old when eight players teed it up for the inaugural Challenge Belt in October 1860.
Much has changed at Prestwick in the last 160 years, but the wonderfully natural, rumpled terrain still provides a tangible link with the challenge that those early Open competitors faced. Six original greens remain along with three original holes.
Willie Park Senior won in 1860 over the then 12-hole course, and Prestwick would go on to host 24 Opens until 1925.
Related: Top 100 Courses UK and Ireland
Old Tom Morris oversaw the extension to 18 holes in 1882, and although The Open essentially outgrew Prestwick, it has continued to test the best unpaid golfers in the game, hosting the Amateur Championship on 11 occasions, most recently in 2001.
Famous holes and features
The main objective on the 1st is to keep your slice at bay sufficiently to avoid the highly adjacent Ayrshire Coast railway.
A couple of holes later, you’ll encounter one of many memorable hazards as the par-5 3rd turns right after the vast, sleepered Cardinal bunker.
Before long you’ll be standing on the tee of Prestwick’s most famous hole of all – the long blind par-3 5th, Himalayas, where you fire directly over a tall dune to a big green well-protected by sand. They don’t build them like this any more… more’s the pity!
Coming home, the 17th (Alps) is Prestwick’s original 2nd and calls for a blind approach that must successfully negotiate the hidden, yet sizable, Sahara bunker guarding the right half of the green.
Prestwick is still an utterly beguiling place to play – a course where mere mortals can tread the same historically important turf as those early Open pioneers and find that it’s still more than capable of fully testing their games.
That is Prestwick’s charm – historically significant yet still hugely relevant.
Traditional old-school links requiring a variety of shots across completely natural terrain and hazards.
I didn’t know how I would feel about the quirkiness and blind shots… the answer is that I loved them! The terrain and town make it feel like St Andrews, Royal Dornoch and St Enodoc all rolled into one.
Packed with blind shots, drivable par 4s, desert-sized bunkers and rollercoaster greens, Prestwick is a living link with the game’s past.
Jeremy Ellwood has worked in the golf industry since 1993 and for Golf Monthly since 2002 when he started out as equipment editor. He is now a freelance journalist writing mainly for Golf Monthly across the whole spectrum from courses and Rules to equipment and even instruction despite his own somewhat iffy swing (he knows how to do it, but just can't do it himself). He also edits The Golf Club Secretary Newsletter, has authored or co-authored three books and written for a number of national papers including The Telegraph and The Independent. He is a senior panelist for Golf Monthly's Top 100 UK & Ireland Course Rankings and has played all of the Top 100 plus 89 of the Next 100. He has played well over 900 courses worldwide in 35 countries, but put him on a links course anywhere and he will be blissfully content. On his first trip to Abu Dhabi a decade ago he foolishly asked Paul Casey what sort of a record he had around the course there. "Well, I've won it twice if that's what you mean!" came the reply...
Jezz can be contacted via Twitter - @JezzEllwoodGolf
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