As the original home of the Open Championship, Prestwick is an iconic links golf course in Old Tom Morris’ roster of designs, located just 30 miles southwest of Glasgow – Scotland’s largest city. As a young man, Tom Morris won the Open Championship here three consecutive years, before the classic 12-hole course was extended in 1883 to become the phenomenal 18-hole course we know and love today.

Course Overview

Prestwick Golf Club
Address2-4 Links Rd, Prestwick KA9 1QH
Location 30 miles Southwest of Glasgow
Holes18 holes
Style Links
Length6544 yards
Championships HostedThe Open Championship, The Amateur Championship
Scottish Ranking16th
UK Ranking38th

Course design

Snaking back and forth through hilly dunes and rolling fairways, Prestwick offers a significant challenge for any golfer, with greens that are well-known for being firm and fast, many blind holes and large sleepered bunkers to contend with. 

The huge variety and quality of holes is what has made Prestwick a firm favourite for golfers around the world. The first hole – known as ‘Railway’ – is among the most intimidating holes in the golfing world, with railway tracks running down the right hand side to provide an extra challenge for any right-handed golfer. Meanwhile, the third hole – known as ‘Cardinal’ – is a short par 5 renowned for its deep bunkers which have been raised by railway sleepers. 

Prestwick’s most famous hole, however, is the 17th – Alps – which Bernard Darwin described as “The most spectacular blind hole in all the world”. Overall, there are many compliments for this iconic golf course, and it’s without a doubt one for any golfer’s bucket list!

Course history

With a rich history stretching back over 160 years, Prestwick Golf Club has played a huge role in the development of the sport. Founded in 1851 when golf was still a relatively new pastime, 57 founding members purchased the two cottages opposite their local tavern – The Red Lion Inn – to form a members’ clubhouse and a gift to the club’s Keeper of the Green, ball and clubmaker, who was none other than Old Tom Morris himself.

Old Tom’s unique design received plenty of praise and raised the club’s profile exponentially, as it went on to become the very first of the Open Championship in 1860, within only 10 years of the club’s formation. It wasn’t until 1873 that the Open moved to St Andrews, which is the only course to have hosted the championship more times than Prestwick, who have been a host of The Open 24 times.

Regional history

Before Prestwick was developed into a town, it was the oldest recorded baronial burgh in Scotland, with some records dating back to as early as 983 CE. Many kings have utilised Prestwick’s coastal paths, from Robert the Bruce to James VI, which have since grown into a town around the old church of St Nicholas – whose 12th century ruins still stand today.

One of Prestwick’s defining features today is its international airport which serves a large part of Scotland’s central belt and beyond. The airport received particular acclaim in 1960 when a US military sergeant landed here to refuel when travelling from Germany to the United States. The sergeant in question was actually none other than Elvis Presley, and his 2 hour stopover in Prestwick was the only time he ever set foot on UK soil.

Local hospitality and retail

Where to stay

With its beautiful coastal setting and close proximity to Glasgow, Prestwick is home to a number of outstanding hotels. Among the most notable is Golf View Hotel, which offers first-class accommodation and striking views over Prestwick Golf Course – ideal for those looking to make the most of their time teeing off. The Marine Troon is another fantastic choice of stay, with timeless interiors, a fantastic dining experience and impeccable service for a luxurious experience as soon as you check in.

For a contemporary setting to rest your head at the end of each day, Fairfield House Hotel’s stylish decor and luxurious accommodation is perfect. It also offers the added benefits of sea views, a swimming pool and gym, and an AA Rosette restaurant for one of the finest dining experiences the area has to offer.

Piersland House is a spectacular country mansion with beautiful grounds and gardens, renowned for being the former home of the Johnnie Walker Scotch Whisky family. Among the many other luxury hotels around Prestwick are Western House Hotel, the 5 star Lochgreen House Hotel and spa, The Gailes Hotel & Spa and Dundonald Lodges leaving you spoiled for choice on where to stay on your visit! 

Where to eat

With so many luxury hotels in the area, Prestwick also boasts a number of fine dining options within these outstanding establishments. For a delightful afternoon tea or a delicious tasting of premium, locally sourced produce, Logan’s Bar and Restaurant at The Carlton Hotel is an excellent choice. Set within the heart of Prestwick, Vito’s Italian offers an outstanding dining experience, with classic and contemporary dishes using local ingredients. 

Scotland’s award-winning Buzzworks group has two outstanding venues here in Prestwick. The Vine is a new all day café and restaurant with modern dining options, delicious flavours and a welcoming atmosphere. Its much-loved sister venue, Lido, offers casual, continental dining with a delicious mediterranean-inspired menu and wood-burning pizza ovens for a truly authentic experience.

Where to shop

When you decide to take a break from lowering your handicap on the golf course, Prestwick has a number of independent shops waiting for you to indulge in a little retail therapy. The town’s thriving high street is scattered with excellent boutiques and gift shops, from the ladieswear and jewellery stores In The Mix and Emporium Boutique, to the charming Home & Glorious gift shop, with many more retail outlets nearby in Ayr and Glasgow – Scotland’s largest city.

Of course, a trip to Scotland wouldn’t be complete without picking up a local whisky from the area. Prestwick is the original home of the iconic Johnnie Walker Whisky, with lesser known but equally legendary brands including The Lost Distillery Company, Lochlea Distillery and Glen Catrine.

Iconic landmarks

Prestwick is a fantastic setting for soaking up some of Scotland’s rich history, with many ancient landmarks for you to discover and immerse yourself in Scottish culture. In the beautiful nearby village of Alloway you can explore the birthplace of Scotland’s most famous poet – Robert Burns – with a museum dedicated to his enduring legacy.

For a little adventure off the beaten track, Greenan Castle’s striking, cliff top location makes for a scenic walk along the Ayrshire coastline, with the dramatic ruins still standing since it was originally built in the 14th Century. Nestled in the rugged surroundings of South Ayrshire, you’ll find the fascinating fortified ruins of Dundonald Castle, which was home to King Robert II – grandson of the legendary Robert the Bruce – with historic links to the Stewart dynasty.

The best photo spots

  • Prestwick beach 
  • Greenan Castle
  • Brig O Doon
  • Burns Memorial Garden

Our top tips for playing this course

  • Make sure you allow time for a visit to the Pro shop – it’s incredible. David Fleming, PGA Professional will look after you well! 
  • Great memorabilia in the clubhouse – be sure to take a good look
  • Definitely take a caddie – you’ll thank us after! 
  • Think about doing the Prestwick Experience which includes lunch in the members lounge after your round (jacket and tie required)

Watch Stephen Proctor’s Prestwick Dispatch here

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