Born St Andrews, Fife (1836 to 1868). Though not perhaps quite as good a player as his brother Davie, it was Andrew who became an Open champion. His victory broke the alternation between Old Tom Morris and Willie Park snr as champions. He won in style: his 162 for three rounds over Prestwick’s 12 holes was the lowest in the championship until the advent of Young Tom Morris. His winning card is the earliest to survive.
Strath was a St Andrews man and started golf as an apprentice with James Wilson, successor to the great clubmaker Hugh Philp. As a golfer he was famous for the amount of backspin he could get on his iron shots. Old Tom Morris would sometimes choose him as a foursomes partner in the money matches which were such a feature of golf at this time.
In his short career, Strath had a very good record in the Open. He was third in 1860, fourth in 1863, second in 1864 and fourth in 1867. In 1865 he succeeded Old Tom Morris as Keeper of the Green at Prestwick but died of tuberculosis at the age of 32. His brother Davie also died young, while a third brother, George, emigrated to the United States after serving as Troon’s first professional. The Strath bunker guarding the 1lth green on the Old Course offers a permanent reminder of one of St Andrews’ most famous families. It might have got its name because contemporaries thought Andrew often found sand, perhaps this bunker in particular.
Open Champions at Prestwick
Extract taken from “British Open Champions” by Michael Hobbs 1991.