He was the first professional to rise from the caddy ranks, won the inaugural Open Championship, and is regarded as one of the pioneers of professional golf. Willie Park Sr. was one of the greatest golfers of the 19th century. His story and the story of his brother, Mungo, and son, Willie, are an integral part of golf’s heritage.
Park first appeared on the golfing scene in 1854, challenging Allan Robertson, the greatest player of his time, Tom Morris or Willie Dunn to a match with £100 at stake. George Morris, Tom’s brother, accepted the offer instead and was beaten soundly, causing Robertson to say, “Willie frichtens us wi’ his long driving.” Brother Tom tried to win back the family honor over 36 holes and lost by five holes. This was the first of many matches between Park and Morris when “Challenge Matches” were far more popular than the Open Championship.