As Prestwick’s first professional, Tom Morris was responsible for laying out the original 12-hole course, part of which is still in use today. While at Prestwick he also honed the greenkeeping skills he would later put to good use on his return to St Andrews to become greenkeeper and professional to the R&A. A founding father of golf, Old Tom was instrumental in shaping Prestwick.
Charlie Hunter was born in Prestwick in 1836 and died there 85 years later. He succeeded Old Tom as club-maker and professional at Prestwick in 1864. A year later he went to Royal Blackheath GC. His replacement was Andrew Strath, who sadly died in 1868. Charlie then returned to Prestwick and continued in the service of the club until his death. He played in the first Open in 1860 and thereafter played in or was starter for every Open Championship at Prestwick until he passed away. He laid out various courses, was an elder of the Kirk and was given the Freedom of Prestwick. His devotion to the club was recognised in an oil portrait which hangs in the clubhouse today.
Born in St Andrews in 1836, Andrew Strath became the Open Champion in 1865. His victory broke the domination of Old Tom and Willie Park Snr winning with a score of 162 for the three rounds - the lowest winning score until the arrival of Young Tom Morris. He succeeded Old Tom as Keeper of the Green at Prestwick in 1865 but died three years later of tuberculosis at the age of 32. He was buried in St Nicholas churchyard in an unmarked grave in 1868. On discovering this, a plaque was erected by the club in 2008 as a mark of respect to the Prestwick Open Champion.
Willie Campbell, a native of Musselburgh, was appointed professional at Prestwick in 1887 and was regarded as one of the finest match players of his time. In the 1887 Open Championship at Prestwick, he was assured of a win until he heeled his tee shot into the fairway bunker at the 16th. He took four shots to get out, and his eight cost him the tournament. The bunker is now known as Willie Campbell’s Grave. In 1891, he emigrated to the US where he died at the age of 38.
James McDowall then became the club professional for six years resigning in 1927.
Robert McInnes was appointed on James’s resignation. Robert became an Honorary Member in 1957 and died in 1962 after 35 years service to the club.
In 1962, Frank Rennie was appointed and remained in his post for 42 years until he retired in 2004. Frank was made an Honorary Member in 1988. His outgoing personality and sense of humour was enjoyed by members and visitors alike. He still plays regularly at Prestwick and is well known to many of our regular visitors.
David Fleming succeeded Frank and was appointed the club’s professional in 2004. Prior to his appointment, David trained at Turnberry becoming its head professional and then became director of golf at Carton House in Dublin.
A keen teacher, David offers lessons to all levels of golfer, members and non-members using the latest slow-motion video analysis and custom fitting with FlightScope X2 radar.
David has also built up an impressive shop offering a range of golf clothing and accessories many featuring the club’s logo. In 2013, Europe’s leading golf services supplier voted his shop as the best professional’s shop in the UK and Ireland based on shop presentation, excellent customer service, choice of products and attention to detail.