The Scottish Open is now star-studded, so it’s easy to forget the years of relative hardship

Back in 1935, the Glasgow Herald’s comprehensive coverage of this game came under the banner “From the Golf Courses” and would document just about every clatter, batter, dink and dunt, from the cut-and-thrust of The Open to the nip-and-tuck at the Busby & Clarkston Ladies Club.

This particular year, there was a new event for the correspondent to cover; the inaugural Scottish Open over the King’s Course at Gleneagles. By the end of it, said correspondent was positively giddy with acclaim as Percy Alliss surged to a four-shot win with a closing 66.

“Probably never in British golf history has there been such a remarkable finish to a championship,” gushed The Herald’s scribbler on the scene. “An average of level fours as a standard of excellence was swept ruthlessly aside.”

Ah, the delightful golfing phrases of yore, eh?

After that initial staging almost 90 years ago, the Scottish Open was held again in 1936 before disappearing off the face of the earth until 1972.

In the land of milk and honey that is professional golf in its upper echelons these days, this week’s star-studded, cash-sodden Genesis Scottish Open at the Renaissance could make the riches of Babylon look like a flea market.

Now awash with big names and big bucks, it can be easy to forget about the Scottish Open’s years of relative hardship. In 1974, for instance, the championship was binned because organizers could not agree on a television contract. The revival of the domestic showpiece had not lasted long.

The great Neil Coles, that prolific champion of grand longevity, was the winner in 1972, when the Scottish Open emerged from its 36-year hiatus during the inaugural season of the official European now DP World Tour.

2023 Genesis Scottish Open
2023 Genesis Scottish Open

Rory McIlroy putts on the 5th green during Day Four of the Genesis Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club on July 16, 2023, in United Kingdom. (Photo by Octavio Passos/Getty Images)

Downfield in Dundee was the host venue and Sunbeam Electric, that household appliance company that manufactured a snazzy array of food mixers, waffle irons and toasters, was the sponsor.

Old king Coles was certainly a merry old soul after plundering the first prize of 2,000 pounds. His better half was chipper too.

“When I used to come off the course, I’d ring my wife and say, ‘I’ve won’ and she’d always ask, ‘how much?’” reflected the indefatigable Coles, who won professional titles across six different decades.

“During my playing career, I won about 430,000 pounds on the main tours and another 620,000 on the senior circuit, so just over 1 million in 50 years.”

The winner at the Renaissance next Sunday will pocket around £1.2 million, or more than $1.5 million. It’s a different ball game.

After Graham Marsh’s victory over the Old Course in 1973, the Scottish Open was hoiked into the long grass again and was not dug out until 1986 when the Glasgow Classic, which had been staged at Haggs Castle from 1983 to 1985, was rebranded as the Scottish Open.

The Classic later known as the Glasgow Open had served up some fine golfing fare on the city’s southside. A young Bernhard Langer, who made his final DP World Tour appearance in his native Germany last week at the age of 66, won the first edition in 1983, while Ken Brown cantered to an 11-shot romp the following year.

Sandy Lyle was beaten in a playoff by Howard Clark in 1985 before the Glasgow Open name was ditched, the Bell’s Scottish Open banners went up and the Dear Green Place provided, well, the green shoots of recovery for a hitherto troubled championship.

Jim McAlister, who was the Haggs Castle club professional for almost 25 years, made his final tour appearance in his own backyard in 1986.

“As the host club pro I got an invitation,” said McAlister. “Just making the cut was an achievement. And I managed it. It was nice to show the locals I could still play.”

Those locals watched David Feherty win the title. The Northern Irishman could certainly play. He could celebrate too. The well-documented story goes that he woke up 48 hours later at Gleneagles, apparently after a shindig with members of rock band Led Zeppelin.

“The worst part was that the trophy was gone,” said Feherty, whose life would be blighted by alcohol and drug dependency. “To this day, I have no idea how I lost it or when I lost it. And it was never found.”

A new trophy has been in the safe hands of another Northern Irishman, Rory McIlroy, for the past year. There will be plenty of big names looking to pinch it off him, mind you.

McIlroy pipped the gallant Robert MacIntyre to the title with a quite thrilling, birdie, birdie finish. We can only wonder what “our correspondent” of 1935 would have made of it all.

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek