Wednesday, 8 October 2008
Great Ayrshire golfer honoured with memorial
IN golfing circles, Andrew Strath’s name might not be as well known as Colin Montgomerie, Paul Lawrie or Sam Torrance’s, but in career terms he’s up there on a par with them all.
[Pictured at the memorial for Andrew Strath, left to tight: Lesley Cannon (South Ayrshire Council) Councillor Hywel Davies, Donald Turner (Prestwick Golf Club) Councillor Hugh Hunter, Ian Bunch (Prestwick Golf Club) and Philip Ewing (South Ayrshire Council). CLICK ON ANY IMAGE TO VIEW / DOWNLOAD FULL-SIZE VERSION.]
Now, 143 years after he won the most prestigious tournament of them all, Andrew Strath is being honoured as an unsung hero of the professional circuit.
Born in 1836, Strath won the Open Championship at Prestwick in 1865, having been the runner-up the previous year, third in 1860, fourth in 1863 and fourth again in 1867.
Today, this record alone would make for a golfing superstar, but Strath’s achievement is truly remarkable, given that he was an apprentice clubmaker and not a full-time professional. Not only that, he was competing in a sport that was heavily dominated by the likes of Willie Park Senior, Tom Morris Senior and his son Tom Morris Junior.
Having partnered ‘Old’ Tom Morris in a number of challenges matches that were a feature of golf at the time, Andrew eventually succeeded him as the Greenkeeper at Prestwick Golf Club in 1865.
Sadly though, his career was cut short by tuberculosis and he died just three years later in 1868 aged just 32.
That’s where the story might have ended, but for the tenacity of several members of Prestwick Golf Club, whose historical research flagged up the news that Strath’s remains lie in the town’s St Nicholas’ Church.
Appropriately enough it’s barely a couple of shots and a short putt away from the Prestwick Club itself and, after a ceremony on Monday 6 October 2008, a plaque commemorating and remembering Andrew Strath’s life and career was unveiled by Councillor Hywel Davies.
Even though his success may lie in a bygone era, it’s a grandstand finish and a fitting tribute for a local and national golfing champion.
[FOOTNOTE: Andrew Strath’s brother David was runner-up in the Open both in 1872 and 1876 and another brother, George, was the first golf professional at Troon. He later emigrated to the USA.
The family name lives on by way of the Strath bunker which stands in front of the 11th green on the St Andrews Old Course.]
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