Willie Park Snr (1834 - 1903)
Born Musselburgh, Scotland, Park is remembered as one of the greatest golfers of the last century. His story and the story of his brother, Mungo, and son, Willie, are an integral part of golf's heritage.
Musselburgh, which lies across the Firth of Forth from St Andrews, was golf's second home. Park was fortunate to grow up in a environment in which golf was undergoing a metamorphosis into a world wide sport. Although the game was typically the preserve of the wealthy due to the cost of hickory shafted clubs and 'featherie' golf balls, there was still opportunity for ordinary folk to enjoy the game.
Park came from the caddy ranks to become a golf professional. Although he later set up his own ball and club making business, he made his money from challenge matches. He was a great adversary of Old Tom Morris, Willie Dunn and Allan Robertson.
In 1860, Park beat a field of eight including Old Tom Morris, to win the inaugural Open Championship. He won again in 1863, 1866 and 1875 and was runner up four times. However, back then, challenge matches were more keenly followed than the Open. Matches between Old Tom Morris and Park were especially popular with large crowds attending.
Park's brother, Mungo (1835 - 1904), won the Open in 1874 when it was staged at Musselburgh for the first time. He partnered Park in many challenge matches including the infamous one at North Berwick when Young Tom Morris received the sad news of his wife's imminent death. Mungo later worked as a professional at several clubs and set up his own ball and club making business.
Wille Park Jnr was born in 1864 and he carried on in his father's footsteps to become one of the most respected and successful golfers in the history of the game. The Park family are a golfing institution and their place in golf's history is assured.