The original course from 1851 is laid out over some of the best golfing terrain anywhere, but it is only a relatively small patch. Hence, the more conventional linksland to the north was added over the years to form an 18 hole course. As a result the best holes over the exciting land near the clubhouse come early and late in the round, whereas the middle part from about #6 to #12 has most of the yardage and not much of the quirk. Due to the greatness of the other holes one desperately wants to love this part as well, which can even succeed to a certain extent. After all, they may be a bunch of long slogs, but they would be competent holes on most other courses.
What really makes Prestwick stand out is neither the turf nor the fantastic links greens, which can be found in a similar fashion at other places as well. It's certainly not the scenery, which is a little drab outside of the course and there are no sea views either. Thankfully the inside views are great and that ties into Prestwick's greatest strength as a course, which is the routing. Despite many twists and turns - including coming back to the clubhouse after 15 - the next tee is never far from the previous green and there is a very natural progression of holes. The only slight exception is how the 6th and 7th play forward and right back again - but ultimately it doesn't detract from the journey.
Still, the question must be asked: would it be considered sacrilegious to go from the 5th green straight to the 10th tee and if after 14 holes the match is not decided, simply go round the final four holes again? Yes, those long par 4s make it more of a test for elite players and the club is understandably very keen on preserving Prestwick's history as the original home of The Open. But the hallowed turf near the clubhouse is just too tempting to not entertain such thoughts. Be that as it may, changes to historic courses rarely go down well, so Prestwick will remain that odd throwback to very ancient times mixed with merely ancient aspects like the "new" first hole, which was introduced in 1882. While the blend is far from perfect, it is precisely for that reason also a perfect manifestation of the entire game of golf.