Tom Morris: The Grand Old Man of Golf

Tom Morris

Tom Morris was more than a great golfer; he is the father of the modern game and set many standards. He created new courses and clubs and made golf famous.

Nobody else compares to Tom Morris Sr. when discussing modern golf. Tom came up with the idea for modern golf in 1864, and it was first played at St. Andrews in Scotland. Hence, he’s regarded as the father of golf.

As golf enthusiasts at PrimePutt, we’ll reflect on the life of a legendary golfer from back in his heyday. Here’s what we will discuss:

•Who is Tom Morris?

•Tom Morris Early Career and Rise to Fame

•Tom Morris Later Career and Transition to Businessman

What Can We Learn from Tom Morris’s Achievements?

Who is Tom Morris?

Tom Morris Sr. was born June 16, 1821, in St. Andrews, Scotland. He’s known as “Old Tom Morris,” “Old Tom,” or “the grand old man of golf” for his role in golf’s history.

Before joining the family business, Morris was a champion golfer, clubmaker, and golf course designer. His son, Young Tom was one of the most successful 19th-century golfers and the first British champion to win an open championship at Prestwick in 1868.

Morris standardized golf rules and equipment. Tom popularized many modern golf practices, including using gutta balls (percha balls) instead of wooden golf balls and metal cleats in his shoes for stability.

Tom Morris also designed the courses at North Berwick, Royal Liverpool Golf Club (Royal Birkdale), Prestwick, and Royal Troon (Old Course).

Tom Morris Early Career and Rise to Fame

Tom Morris attended Madras College in St.Andrews, Fife. He started playing golf with other kids at age 10 using homemade equipment.

After caddying and playing golf, Morris was hired by Allan Robertson, the first professional golfer, at 14. Tom Morris joined the St Andrews Golf Club at an early age with the help of his boss.

Both men formed a formidable team, remaining unbeaten in all the matches they played together. They are dubbed “The Invincibles of the 1840s”.

Old Tom’s golfing prowess at age 20 was second only to that of his boss, Allan Robertson. Sadly, the successful partnership between Allan Robertson and Tom Morris at St Andrews ended, when Allan Robertson fired Tom for business reasons.

Following his time at St Andrews, Tom Morris found work at Prestwick Golf Club. At Prestwick, Old Tom designed golf courses and manufactured golfing equipment. Thus, in 1860, Morris and James Failery established the open championship at Prestwick Golf Club, in which Tom Morris finished runner up.

The Royal and Ancient Golf community invited Tom back to St Andrews in 1864. After seeing how rundown St Andrews was, old Tom started fixing it. Morris improved the St Andrews greens and fairways and added two additional greens. He also switched to a feathered ball.

After several victories at St Andrews, Old Tom Morris retired in 1903.

Tom Morris: Later Career and Transition to Businessman

Morris’s time at St Andrew’s, when he helped Allan Robertson lay out a new course (Carnoustines) in 1842, was a pivotal moment in his development as a businessman.

Old Tom created more than a hundred golf courses for various golf clubs. Some famous courses he made are Prestwick, Westward Ho, and Balcomie. In 1905, he showed off his last masterpiece, the Glasgow Golf Club Course.

Furthermore, Old Tom Morris is generally regarded as the pioneer greenkeeper. On his return to St Andrew’s, Morris pioneered new approaches to maintaining the greens and fairways as a golf course keeper.

The Old Tom Morris management approach focuses on hazard assessment and mitigation. In 1895, Old Tom was a pioneer in the design of a new course at St Andrews, and the Jubilee golf course opened the following year.

What Can We Learn from Old Tom’s Achievements?

Tom Morris’s achievements proved that Old Tom is an accomplished golfer, capable manager and instructor, prosperous businessman, and a great father.

Tom Morris was a man of many talents: a greenkeeper, course designer, clubmaker, golf maker, and golf instructor, in addition to his fame as a professional golfer.

Tom competed in and won four open championships between 1861 and 1867 (becoming the oldest winner of an open champion). When the first open championship was held in 1860, Old Tom finished as runner up.

Old Tom’s son, Young Tom Morris, is golf’s most accomplished player. At the tender age of three, Old Tom taught son Tommy the basics of golf.

Playing golf with his father, Young Tom Morris won a friendly duel against his father when he was only 13 years old. After being rejected a year earlier, at age 14, Young Tom Morris made his debut as an open champion. He won four Open championships consecutively (between 1968 to 1972), among other competitive highlights.

Before Young Tom Morris demise in 1875 at the age of 21, he and his father, Old Tom Morris, formed a formidable partnership that recorded a string of successes at the open championship.

The Grand Old Man Of Golf Legacy Lives On

In 1905, Old Tom Morris died at 86 on Christmas day, but he forever immortalized the Morris family in golf. His layout, technique, and play style helped modernize the game.

Tom Morris greatly influenced golf’s growth and acceptance. The father-and-son golf team’s success was commemorated in many books. Tommy Hour, a 2016 film about the Morris family’s bravery, was also released.

Thus he was a sporting hero in an age of heroes and golf’s first iconic figure. Across every corner of the globe, his presence is remembered forever.

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