The Open at Prestwick

1925 - Prestwick’s Swan Song

The 1925 Open at Prestwick was one of the saddest Championships in history. It was here that this great Championship had been inaugurated in 1860, but on one fateful day in 1925 the long association between The Open and this historic Ayrshire links came to an end forever. If there was sadness over that, there was nothing short of despair for an exiled Scot by the name of MacDonald Smith who should have won that last Open at Prestwick, but didn’t.

Smith had long since departed his native Carnoustie to seek fame and fortune in the United States and so too had Jim Barnes, originally from Cornwall, the winner by a mile of the 1921 US Open. For both men it would be a memorable Championship but for total different reasons.

In the opening round MacDonald Smith was almost left stranded by a 76 against Barnes’ opening round of 70, but on the second day the tables were completely reversed; Barnes had 77 and Smith a marvellous 69. Smith led by two going into the first round of the final day and when Barnes slumped to a 79 against his 76, Smith was five shots clear and seemingly home and dry going into the afternoon final round.

Barnes was out early and returned a creditable 74 but it was clear to everyone that it would not be good enough. Smith needed only a 78 to win, or a 79 to tie.

Then fate and enthusiasm of the Scottish of the Scottish crowds took a hand. It was the classic confrontation, the exiled Scot and expatriate Englishman back home to fight out the final round of The Open Championship. The crowds were massive and in the words of Henry Longhurst, “In their combined determination to see the play at all costs( or, in the case of those who did not pay to come in, at no cost) and to cheer their hero home, they lost him the ambition of a lifetime.”

Hordes trampled over poor MacDonald Smith, desperate to see every shot. He was never given enough room to play and never saw the outcome of any long shot he played during the round.

He left the course a sad and embittered man with a score of 82 in a championship that he had all but won before he was trampled to defeat by a well-meaning, but over-enthusiastic crowd.

The lack of stewarding compounded by the tightness of the Prestwick course to accommodate such huge crowds, was a major concern to the organisers and never again would the Club be host to the Open Championship. 

Prestwick Opens:

18601861186218631864,1865,1866,1867,18681869,1870,1872,1875, 1878, 1881, 1884, 1887, 1890, 1893, 1898, 1903, 1908, 1914, 1925

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