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Muirfield

Muirfield

Gullane, Scotland
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Gary Lisbon
01/44
Gary Lisbon
Gullane, Scotland
Rankings

GalleryGary Lisbon
Rotate for Gallery View
Gary Lisbon
01/44

Muirfield was the fourth course to stage the Open Championship and is the third most used Open venue (host to 16 Opens) after St Andrews and Prestwick.

Date Winner Country
1892 Harold Hilton England
1896 Harry Vardon England
1901 James Braid Scotland
1906 James Braid Scotland
1912 Ted Ray England
1929 Walter Hagen USA
1935 Alf Perry England
1948 Henry Cotton England
1959 Gary Player S Africa
1966 Jack Nicklaus USA
1972 Lee Trevino USA
1980 Tom Watson USA
1987 Nick Faldo England
1992 Nick Faldo England
2002 Ernie Els S Africa
2013 Phil Mickelson USA

Muirfield is the course of “The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers” (HCEG), the world’s oldest golf club—according to direct written evidence—formed in 1744. In those days, the members played over Leith Links, originally a five-hole course. In March 1744, the first official rules of golf were drawn up by the “Gentlemen Golfers of Leith” in readiness for a tournament which was due to be played over Leith Links the following month. These original 13 rules became the basis for the game of golf and shortly afterwards, the HCEG was formed.

Almost 150 years later, in 1891, the course at Muirfield opened for play. Old Tom Morris designed it, originally as a 16-holer. A further two holes were added a few months later. In 1923, another 50 acres were purchased to the north of the course. Harry Colt was engaged to redesign the layout and he introduced fourteen new holes, forming the course that remains in place today. Apart from Tom Simpson's re-modelling of the 13th hole in 1935, the only major changes since then have been the addition of new tees.

The design layout is a masterpiece and highly unusual for links courses of this era. Most courses were laid out simply, nine out and nine back. Muirfield is different; it was the first to be designed with two concentric rings of nine holes. The outward nine holes run clockwise around the edge and the inward nine run anti-clockwise, sitting inside the outward nine. The layout ensures that the wind hits you from all directions, but Muirfield is as difficult to play downwind as it is upwind.

Host to fifteen Opens, most recently in 2013, Muirfield is considered by many top professionals to be one of the fairest Open Championship golf courses. Bernard Darwin loved Muirfield, and in his 1910 book, The Golf Courses of the British Isles, he wrote: “There is a fine view of the sea and a delightful sea wood, with the trees all bent and twisted by the wind; then, too, it is a solitary and peaceful spot, and a great haunt of the curlews, whom one may see hovering over a championship crowd and crying eerily amid a religious silence.”

The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers (Muirfield) played host to the 1973 Ryder Cup matches between the USA and Great Britain & Ireland. Team Captains were Jack Burke (US) and Bernard Hunt (GB & I). This was the first Ryder Cup to be played in Scotland and players from the Republic of Ireland were eligible to join the British Team for the first time. It was a close match which may have been closer had Bernard Gallacher not gone down with food poisoning, which resulted in a last minute call for Peter Butler. In the foursomes, Butler became the first player in Ryder Cup history to hole-in-one, but his ace was not enough to win the match against Jack Nicklaus and Tom Weiskopf. USA 19 - GB & I 13. The Ryder Cup was played at Old Warson in 1971 and Laurel Valley in 1975.

Muirfield is blessed with a collection of superb golf holes and we'll mention a couple of them: The 554-yard par five 9th hole is a tough driving hole, two bunkers lurk on the left-hand side and beyond them is a grey stone boundary wall with out-of-bounds threatening the hooked tee shot; the fairway cruelly starts to narrow at the landing area of a good solid drive, the tangly rough waiting hopefully to catch anything struck off-line. The second shot must avoid a waiting line of five cleverly placed bunkers situated short and right of the green. The 13th is one of best short holes on the open circuit, an uphill 191-yarder; five abysmal bunkers, three on the right and two on the left ferociously protect the deep and narrow green that slopes from back to front. Whatever we do, we mustn’t leave a scary downhill putt.

Muirfield is an eccentric but traditional golf links of the highest calibre. The fairways have that lovely spongy seaside turf, there’s some unbelievable bunkering (many of which are small and deep) and there’s that thick, thick rough to contend with. The greens are relatively small too, which makes you think carefully about your approach shots and once you are safely on the putting surface, you’ll need to interpret them well because the borrows are subtle and tricky to read.

In readiness for the 2013 Open Championship, following a land swap with next-door neighbour the Renaissance Club, Muirfield was lengthened, with new tees added on seven holes. Now measuring 7,192 yards from the tips, with par set at 71, Muirfield has become a stern 21st century challenge, especially when the wind blows.

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Old Tom Morris

In 1835, aged fourteen, Old Tom Morris worked in Allan Robertson's St Andrews workshop making golf balls and clubs. It’s said they were never beaten in a challenge match when paired together.

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