|Willie Park, Sr. wearing the Challenge Belt|
The British Open was first played in October of 1860 at Prestwick Golf Club in Scotland. Only professionals were allowed to participate, and the first year held a field of eight players. The 12-hole course was played three times in one day to declare the champion, Willie Park, Sr., who won by two strokes with a total of 174 shots. There was no prize money in the first three Opens, instead, the champion was presented with the Challenge Belt, a red leather belt with a silver buckle.
In 1863, a prize fund of ₤10 was introduced, which was divided between the second-, third-, and fourth-placed professionals. The champion still didn't receive any money, but got to keep the belt for a year. The first cash prize was awarded in 1864 in the amount of ₤6. The champion that year was Old Tom Morris.
This year's prize fund is ₤5.0 million.