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Tom Morris Senior

Tom Morris, like David Joy, was born and bred in St Andrews, on the east coast of Scotland. He was born on the 16th of June 1821. Morris was heard to say: "We were all born with webbed feet and a golf club in our hand here."
2008 is the 100th anniversary of his death.

Tom Morris in 1861 - illustrated by David Joy                 Tom Morris in 1898 - illustrated by David Joy
Tom Morris Snr in 1861                                                                         Tom Morris Snr in 1898

He began his career as an apprentice feather ball maker with Allan Robertson with whom he worked for 12 years until 1849, when the new gutta ball took away their livelihood.

Old Tom's clubmaking business was established in 1867 by the side of the 18th green of The Old Course. The business continued to run during his lifetime and consistently created employment for six skilled craftsmen, one of which, Bob Martin, was a double winner of The Open Championship at St Andrews in 1876 & 1885.

Original advertisement for the 'Morris' feather golf ball
Advertisement for the 'Morris' golf ball

Old Tom Morris died in the year 1908 aged 86. He died as a result of sustaining a fractured skull after falling down the stairs in The New Club, St Andrews.

Tom had gained so much respect, that his funeral was attended by hundreds of people who knew, loved and admired him. The funeral procession itself spanned the length of South Street in St Andrews.

He was a true pioneer in the world of golf and had lived through the major transitions of the game, from the feather ball; the first Opens; the popularisation of the game; the introduction of inland courses; and the establishment of The Championships - both Amateur and Professional.

David Joy as Tom Morris on location with producer Ted Brocklebank by Young Tom's grave in St Andrews Cathedral
David Joy as Tom Morris with producer
Ted Brocklebank by Young Tom's grave

To this day, the memory of Old Tom Morris is commemorated at the Royal and Ancient Golf Club in St Andrews. His portrait hangs in the Clubhouse and the final hole on the Old Course bears his name.

David Joy is well known as 'the man who plays Old Tom Morris' and, he can be seen doing that in one of his excellent Videos.

Tom Morris not only worked with Alan Robertson (himself dubbed the "World's First Golf Professional"), but the two men also played in foursomes together (the main game at that time) and were never beaten from 1842 till Robertson's untimely death in 1859.

Robertson's obituary read: "Allan Robertson was the greatest golf player that ever lived, of whom alone in the annals of the pastime it can be said that he was never beaten." Robertson was 42 when he passed away.

The portrait of Old Tom hanging to this day in the main lounge of The Royal and Ancient Clubhouse
Portrait of Old Tom hanging to this
day in the main lounge of The R&A

Morris was Keeper of the Greens in Prestwick from 1851 (the year of his son's birth) until 1864. He was also Custodian of the Links in his birthplace of St Andrews - a position he held for nearly forty years - until he reached retirement age in 1902.

Old Tom was famed for his course design;

"1 a day I charged plus expenses, and walked every venue."

He played a part in the design of many famous courses, including Prestwick, Royal Dornoch, Muirfield, Carnoustie, Royal County Down, Nairn and Cruden Bay.

Photo of Old Tom playing the Old Course at St Andrews
Photo of Tom playing the Old Course

Morris Senior won four Open Championships in the eighteen sixties, (1861, 1862, 1864 and 1867) and is still the oldest person to have won the event at the age of 46.

In the first ever Open, Morris came second to Willie Park (who beat him by two shots.) Morris received the sum of 3 as the runner-up, but Park received no prize money, making do with the honour of being named "The Champion Golfer" for that year. Old Tom took part in every championship until the year 1895.

Morris' son Tommy followed in his footsteps, winning in 1868 at the tender age of 17. Young Tom won the Open four consecutive times (1868 - 70 and 1872, there was no championship in 1871). Sadly, Tom Morris Junior died on Christmas Day in 1875 at the age of 24.

David Joy as Old Tom Morris
David Joy as Old Tom Morris

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