Open founder’s house for sale


Open founder’s house for sale
Sean Dudley

A Victorian mansion once owned by the man responsible for setting up the first Open Championship has been rescued from ruin.

Coodham House, near Symington in Ayrshire was the family home of James Ogilvy Fairlie, the founder of Prestwick golf club and the man who started the Open Championship 149 years ago.

The once ruined four-storey Victorian mansion has been resurrected from a derelict burnt-out shell and turned into six apartments and three additional homes minutes from Turnberry, Royal Troon and Prestwick golf courses.

“Fairlie is credited as being the man who persuaded golf course architect Old Tom Morris to design Prestwick Golf Club in 1851 and of setting up the first ever Open Championship at the same venue nine years later,” said golf writer Malcolm Campbell, who, along with fellow scribe George Peper, has created the Links Association to maintain a register of the world’s genuine links courses. “He was a leading character in the Royal & Ancient back in the early days and was a mentor to Old Tom. Old Tom held Fairlie in such high regard he acted as his caddy and it was Fairlie who took him down from St Andrews to Prestwick to build the golf course which held the first Opens.”

Coodham House was built in memory of James’s father, William Fairlie, by his widow Margaret who bought the estate in 1825 and commissioned a large and opulent country house as the new family home.  It was here that James, who inherited the estate in 1845, began planning the Prestwick course and the Open Championship – now considered one of the greatest golf tournaments in the world.

The first Championship was held on 17 October 1860 at Prestwick and attracted eight leading Scottish golfers of the day who played three rounds of the 12 hole course in a single day. Tournament favourite Old Tom, who had the added advantage of having designed the course, lost by two strokes to Willie Park Sr, who won with a score of 174.

“We were aware that in renovating Coodham House we were acting as custodians of history and culture as well simply redesigning a magnificent property,” said Willy Findlater of CDP Architects. “Being a listed building meant it all had to be restored using traditional skills and to satisfy the requirements of South Ayrshire Council and Historic Scotland we had to ensure the integrity of the historic fabric was maintained.” 

The result of five years of work by developers Goldrealm Properties is a historic pink sandstone country house. The apartments and three individually designed homes are on sale for between £330,000-£750,000.

“Not so long ago Coodham House was little more than the shell of a once-impressive building. It takes commitment and a lot of hard work to revitalise a building like this,” said a spokeswoman for Historic Scotland. “It has been a really magnificent example of creating something for the future from the ruins of history.”