Bio of Golfer Mungo Park

Mungo Park was a 19th century golfer and member of a family whose members won seven British Opens. Mungo himself earned one of those titles.

Date of birth: October 22, 1836

Place of birth: Musselburgh, East Lothian, Scotland

Date and place of death: June 19, 1904 in Musselburgh, East Lothian, Scotland

His Open Championship Win

Mungo Park won the 1874 Open Championship, played on the Musselburgh Links, so it was a "home game." The 36-hole tournament was played in one day, four circuits around the 9-hole links. Park had the best first nine of 37, and tied for the best second nine of 38.

After 18 holes, he held a four-stroke advantage. Young Tom Morris was eight behind, which was useful to Park because Morris outplayed him by six strokes over the final 18. But in the end, Mungo Park won by two strokes over Young Tom Morris. Mungo's brother Willie finished 11 shots behind.

Mungo Park's Famous Golfing Relatives

The Park family won seven Open Championships in the 1800s. Mungo Park and Willie Park Sr. were brothers (Mungo the younger of the two). David Park, another brother, played the Open several times. Willie's children were Willie Park Jr. and Mungo Park Jr. (Yes, Mungo Jr. was Mungo Park's nephew, not his son.)

Only David and Mungo Jr. failed to win the Open. Willie Sr. won the very first one, the 1860 British Open, along with the Opens of 1863, 1866 and 1875. Willie Jr. won the 1887 British Open, and again in 1889.

All of them also designed golf courses, with Willie Jr.'s fame as a course designer nearly equalling his fame as a golfer.

Mungo Park Jr. is the least-known of the famous golfing Parks today. He immigrated to the United States early in his life, worked as a golf pro, then went to South America and worked in Argentina. He designed multiple golf courses in Argentina, and won the Argentina Open three times.

More About Mungo Park

Mungo Park was named after the 6th Century Saint Mungo, the founder and patron saint of Glasgow. He began golfing at the age of four, and before long he was "the best boy golfer in Musselburgh," according to Kevin Cook's book Tommy's Honor (affiliate link). But at a young age Park went to work on a fishing boat, and didn't return to golf for 20 years.

When he returned to Musselburgh in 1873, he had only a few months to work on his golf game before entering the 1874 Open.

That was the first British Open he played. In 1875, Park was third; in 1876 he tied for fourth place. Mungo played the Open Championship a total of 10 times, last in 1886.

Like most famous golfers of his era, challenge matches were more common for Mungo than tournament appearances (there being very few tournaments on offer). Mungo and Willie Park often played as partners, frequently against Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris.

As a golfer, the strength of his game was putting — a "family skill" for the Parks, as one old book put it. According to an R&A history, Mungo and his relatives in the game were all bold putters: "the family lived by the motto, 'never up, never in'." That means Mungo putted aggressively, preferred to risk running the ball too far past than hole to leaving it short.

Peter Alliss once wrote that Mungo Park was "an early pioneer of golf across the border," meaning England. Park was the first club pro at Alnmouth Golf Club in Northumberland, England, which opened in 1869 as just the fourth club in England. Park is believed to have laid out the original, 9-hole course there.

In 1879 Park moved on to Tyneside, laying out that 9-hole course, too. And later he was the pro at West Cumberland. In 1894 he headed to Ireland as the pro at Fox Rock Golf Club, but after just one year left for Portmarnock, where he helped lay out the original golf course. Park also made money throughout the years as a club maker.

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