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 Tom “Old Tom” Morris

Tom “Old Tom” Morris

Birth
Saint Andrews, Fife, Scotland
Death 24 May 1908 (aged 86)
Saint Andrews, Fife, Scotland
Burial Saint Andrews, Fife, Scotland
Memorial ID 6867 · View Source
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Keeper of the Green at The Old Course, St. Andrews, Scotland, and Pioneer of Professional Golf. He won the British Open Championship in the years 1861, 1862, 1864, and 1867, and still holds several golf records. Born in St. Andrews, Scotland, the "Home of Golf," he was apprenticed to Allan Robertson, who is generally considered the world's first professional golfer. Robertson made fetherie balls, teaching Morris the trade and how to play golf. Often paired together later in matches, they were never beaten. Fetherie balls were expensive and fragile, often breaking apart, tending to limit the game's appeal to all but the wealthy. When the better, cheaper, and longer lasting gutta percha golf ball was introduced in 1848, Robertson condemned the new ball, but Morris believed the new ball was the future of golf, and the two men went their separate ways in 1849. Morris then joined the newly formed Prestwick Golf Club, where he served as Keeper of the Greens. Morris would work as a greens keeper, club maker, and eventually as a course designer, along with playing tournament golf. In 1852, the railroad built a spur to St. Andrews; this would help make golf popular with the British public, and with its popularity, Morris would become more financially secure. In 1860, he entered the first British Open Championship, hosted by Prestwick, and came in second. The next year, he won the championship. Old Tom would play in every British Open Championship from 1860 until 1895. He currently holds the record as the oldest winner of The Open Championship (at age 46), and for the largest winning margin in the Championship (13 strokes ahead of second place, in 1862). And he and his son, "Young Tom," currently hold the record as the only father/son couple being winner and runner-up (1869, Young Tom beat his father!). Tom Morris is considered the Father of Modern Greens-Keeping, having introduced the concept of top-dressing greens and introducing numerous ideas on course management, including managing the course hazards. Morris also standardized the golf course length to 18 holes (at one time, St. Andrews' Old Course had 23 holes), and introduced the concept that players should return to the Club House at the end of nine holes. He introduced the modern concept that hazards should be placed so that the ball had to be routed around them. As a course designer, he has designed or remodeled about 75 courses; Prestwick is a model of his innovations in course designs. In 1865, he returned to St. Andrews as Keeper of the Greens, holding that position until his retirement in 1904. He established a club making shop near the 18th Green, and today, that green is named in his honor. But he considered his son, "Young Tom" Morris, as his greatest pride, for "Young Tom" not only followed in his father's footsteps, but surpassed his father's professional records in almost every way. "Old Tom" Morris died at age 86 after sustaining a fractured skull, when he fell down the stairs at The New Club, at St. Andrews. He was so highly respected that hundreds attended his funeral, spanning the entire length of South Street in St. Andrews.

Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 7 Nov 1999
  • Find A Grave Memorial 6867
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Tom “Old Tom” Morris (16 Jun 1821–24 May 1908), Find A Grave Memorial no. 6867, citing Saint Andrews Cathedral Graveyard, Saint Andrews, Fife, Scotland ; Maintained by Find A Grave .