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Old Tom Morris

Old Tom Morris

Old Tom Morris can rightly be called a Scottish golfing legend. Born in St. Andrews in 1821, he taught himself the game of golf by improvising with a ball made from bottle corks and a homemade club. He is known for his influence on the modern golf ball and swing methods, as well as tees, fairways and golf greens. Let’s have a look at some of Old Tom’s highlights.

Old Tom’s Rise to the Top

From humble golfing beginnings. Old Tom became caddy and apprentice to the world’s first-ever golf pro, Allan Robertson, who also developed and manufactured feathery golf balls. He passed on his knowledge to the young Morris and they became partners in manufacturing balls and, as an imposing partnership on the golf course. His association with Robertson ensured that he was noticed by others. 

In 1851, he was appointed as Keeper of the Greens at Prestwick Golf Course. He had fallen out with Robertson by this time, due to his preference for the newly developed “gutta purcha” ball. It was largely thanks to Morris that the world’s first open championship was held there, an event that has been held there 24 times since. It started as a tribute to Robertson. Although he didn’t claim victory in 10860, he did go on to do so on 4 separate occasions.

Winning Until the End

Old Tom’s final open victory was at the Open in 1896, at the age of 70. 

His course re-design work is well-known and not to be forgotten. His most famous work is the Old Course at St Andrew’s, but he designed, extended or remodelled many other famous courses, like Leven Links, Royal Dornoch, Nairn, and Cruden Bay.  Golf courses at Royal Burgess and Panmure were also improved by his understanding of golf courses. It is Old Tom who is responsible for introducing hazards on a golf course!