The idea, a stroke play championship open to professionals – seems obvious now, but it was not self-evident then. Professional match-play challenges were the vogue and more exciting for players and spectators alike. Quite often prize money could reach £100! Spectators were never slow to take bets on the outcome, often resulting in rowdy confrontations, which Musselburgh became infamous for.
Stroke-play it was thought, made for dull wagering, especially with a strong favorite such as Tom Morris Senior competing.
Since there was no prize money for the first three years of the competition, we might suspect the tournament was not quite what it seems. The players had other reasons for attending. The clue was the professionals’ tournament was attached to the Prestwick club’s own domestic competition that week. The attending professionals playing for the trophy would also earn a few days’ work caddying for the less gifted gentlemen.