The Musselburgh Opens
In its dominant days Musselburgh had a regular, undisputed slot in the Open Championship circuit. The first of these was held on the 10th April 1874 and the last on Friday 8th November 1889. This marked the last Open as the Honourable Company built a new course at Muirfield, Gullane.
When they moved there was confusion about who was to continue to run the Championship and on which course it should be played. When the decision came in 1892, to the distress of the Musselburgh players, the Honourable Company decided the Open should move with them to Muirfield. Not unreasonably, the Musselburgh golfers organised another rival ‘Open’ competition prior to the Muirfield event, one with greater prize money.
This led to a confrontation which was headed off when it was agreed the Musselburgh Open would be played the week prior to the Open.
Interestingly the prize money for the Open was raised to match the £100 put up for the Musselburgh competition. The new course at Muirfield had not won universal approval, and the devotees of the seaside game dubbed the new Muirfield course as an ‘auld water meadow’ so clearly did its green, springy turf contrast with the hard links familiar to the regular tournament players.
During their stay at Musselburgh, the Honourable Company sponsored and ran six Open Championships.
Champions Role of Honour
1874 – Mungo Park – 159
1877 – Jamie Anderson – 162
1880 – Bob Ferguson – 162
1883 – Willie Fernie – 158 (after 36 hole play-off)
1886 – David “Deacon” Brown – 157
1889 – Willie Park Jr. – 155 (after 36 hole play-off)