In 1860, Willie Park, Sr. won the inaugural Open Championship at Prestwick. Born in Musselburgh, he was a rising star in golf by the age of 20 after starting out as a caddie and rising through the ranks.
The first Open field of eight included Park's rival Tom Morris, Sr. Although Morris was the crowd favorite, Park won the Championship by two strokes. There was no monetary reward, but the winner held the Challenge Belt for a year and after three consecutive wins, was allowed to keep it.
Park (1833-1903) won the British Open four times (1860, 1863, 1866, and 1875) and his son Willie Park, Jr. (1864-1925) won twice in 1887 and 1889. Park’s brother Mungo won the Open in 1874.
Willie Park, Sr. and Jr. were the first father and son Open Champions.
Park Jr. was also the first professional golfer to publish a book on golf. The book entitled The Game of Golf (1896 Longmans, Green, and Co.) was intended to be a book of instruction.
The spirit and passion for golf of this father and son lives on with the PNC Father/Son Challenge.