As the only major in golf that takes place outside the United States, the Open Championship – otherwise known as the British Open – is the highlight of the year for keen golfers based in the United Kingdom. This is the major that European golfers want to win above all.
The best players in the sport do battle for the Claret Jug, which has been presented to the British Open champion since 1873. Ireland’s Shane Lowry secured his first major title at the Open Championship in 2019, finishing an impressive six shots clear of the field.
As is the case with the US Open and the PGA Championship, there are a number of courses in the British Open rotation. In this article, we look at the seven most frequented venues in Open Championship history – some of these courses are among the most prestigious in golf.
Royal Birkdale (10)
You have to go back to 1954 for the first British Open to take place at Royal Birkdale – and that was the start of a close relationship between the event and the Southport course.
In a survey conducted by Golf Digest in 2007, Royal Birkdale ranked as the 18th greatest golf course outside the United States. Patrons will argue that Birkdale should be much higher…
The most recent Open Championship at Royal Birkdale was in 2017. American Jordan Spieth went wire to wire, eventually finishing on -12, three shots clear of closest rival Matt Kuchar.
Royal Lytham & St Annes (11)
The first British Open to be held at Royal Lytham & St Annes took place in 1926, with young amateur Bobby Jones securing his third major title – he had previously won the US Open twice.
With 167 bunkers situated around the golf course, it is very difficult to play at times – even the best golfers have struggled at Royal Lytham & St Annes.
A big drive won’t help too much here, intricacy is a much stronger trait. Seve Ballesteros is the only man to win two Open Championship events at the venue; his first success coming in 1979 and his second in 1988.
Royal Liverpool (12)
You have to go back to the 1800s for the first British Open at Royal Liverpool – Harold Hilton secured the Claret Jug in 1897 after a confident four days of golf.
Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods have enjoyed success at this course in recent times; Woods lifted the Claret Jug in 2006 before McIlroy triumphed in 2014. Both men will expect to be in the hunt for Open Championship glory next year.
With the venue confirmed to host the 2022 Open Championship, golf fans in the local area will be hoping to be in attendance for Royal Liverpool’s 13th major.
Royal St George's (14)
Another classic – the first Open Championship at Royal St George’s took place in 1894. It is the only golf course based in Southern England on the current British Open rotation and it is steeped in history and heritage.
There were emotional scenes on the 18th hole in 2011 as cult hero Darren Clarke claimed his first and only major to date. Without a doubt, that is one of the more recent British Open highlights.
Golf followers won’t have to wait too much longer for the next trip to Royal St George’s – it will host the British Open in 2020.
Muirfield is arguably the most picturesque course on the Open Championship rotation. It has hosted Britain’s primary golf event 16 times in total, with the first major in 1892.
Nick Faldo loved playing at Muirfield and two of his six major titles were won at the unique course. It is an unusual links course – with some players relishing conditions while others can’t quite get to grips with it.
Muirfield is still on the rotation but there is no event planned in the next few years. It has now been six years since the last British Open at Muirfield so it might not be too much longer before it returns.
Home to the first ever Open Championship, Prestwick has a short but successful history as a host course. In fact, it was last used in 1925 yet remains the second most used venue for the event…
Logistically, Prestwick was a nightmare. Media reports from the time discuss how Prestwick should never host another Open Championship and the tournament organisers took note – the 1925 tournament was the last.
Tom Morris Sr and Tom Morris Jr combined for eight British Open wins at Prestwick; in fact only three non-Scots have ever won the Open Championship at the iconic venue.
Old Course At St Andrews (29)
Without a doubt, the Old Course at St Andrews is the course that most sports fans associate with the British Open. According to various sources, it is in fact the oldest golf course on the planet.
The first Open Championship at the Old Course was held in 1873, with Scotsman Tom Kidd coming out on top. His prize for winning the British Open back then? A measly £11.
Tiger Woods has won twice at this venue – the first in 2000 en route to his infamous ‘Tiger Slam’. Meanwhile, his greatest golf player of all-time rival Jack Nicklaus also won the Claret Jug on two separate occasions at St Andrews.
*Credit for the main photo belongs to Peter Morrison / AP Photo*