How Old Tom Morris Changed the Golf World
When I mention Old Tom Morris's name to Tom, his eyes cloud over and a smile crosses his face, "Golf would never have existed, without that man".
Left - Old Tom Morris, Right - Old Tom Morris sitting far left
Tom Frankish runs 'Golf Car Company' with his son Darren - a lawnmower company that supplies green-cutters and golf cars to courses all over Scotland. Tom is passionate about golf, and especially the traditional game, Hickory Golf. 42 years ago, Tom bought a house with 10 acres of land. The land was originally used for Sheep Farming, however Tom soon followed his passion and turned this land into a Hickory Golf course.
I can tell from Tom's comment, that Old Tom Morris has a massive impact on the golf world, even now. With some calling him the founder of golf, I sit down with Tom to learn why.
Tom: "They used to call him the Keeper of the Green, and that he was. Before Old Tom Morris, there was no conformity to golf. There was a general rule of 'hit the ball into the hole before your opponent', but that was about it".
What was golf like before Old Tom Morris?
"Golf began with farmers in a field, hitting a stone around and trying to get it in the nearest rabbit hole. The first ever bunker would have been created by sheep rubbing together against land to create a windshield and the first Tee was actually created by a dentist. He was tired of getting his hands dirty so he designed the tee we know today, from a stick. Golf has been around for so long, but it's hard to believe that we've come all the way from rabbit holes and stones, to what we have today".
How did Tom Morris change the golf world?
"The thing with Tom Morris was that he could always see ahead. He knew what people wanted and he gave it to them. Before golf was regulated, they would use the sand from the rabbit holes to tee off for the next shot. After a while all the sand taken from the holes would cause them to get larger. There was no regularity, so Tom took a metal pipe, and placed it in the rabbit hole. From then, onwards this method was used to regulate the size of holes on a course.
He also knew that women wanted to play golf. Back in those days, it
was a little taboo, however he designed a women-only golf course,
called the Himilayas St Andrews Ladies' Putting Club. This meant they had
somewhere to play golf.
He was responsible for designing golf courses, designs which impact on the course styles we know today. He really did revolutionize golfÃÂ¢Ã¢âÂ¬ÃÂ.
After speaking with Tom, I decided to do a little research on Tom Morris. Here is what I found:
- Morris was born in St Andrew's in 1821. He worked as a greenkeeper, clubmaker, ballmaker, golf instructor, course designer, as well as playing tournament golf. In the first Open Championship in 1860 he came second, the following year he won. Further victories followed in 1862, 1864 and 1867.
- Tom Morris still holds the record as the oldest winner of the Open Championship at age 46.
- His son, Young Tom Morris, became an accomplished player in his own right, they formed a father-son team for many championships. This partnership continued until the death of Young tom Morris in 1875
- Old Tom Morris played a part in designing golf courses over the years, his first one being Carnoustie in 1842. He was known as the father of modern greenkeeping. He introduced the concept of top-dressing greens with sand, which helped the growth of turf. He introduced the idea of placing hazards so that the ball could be routed around them. This began strategic design in golf courses and has dominated it ever since.
- Morris worked right up until his death, just before his 87th birthday. He fell down a flight of stairs in the New Golf Club in St Andrews.