Saturday, October 11, 2008

Featured Pipe Smoker: "Old" Tom Morris

Old Tom Morris (1821-1908)

Tom Morris, Sr., (pictured here in 1896) better known as Old Tom Morris, was born in St. Andrews, Scotland. He started his career in golf apprenticed to "featherie" ball maker Allan Robertson (Robertson is known as the world's first golf professional). When new ball technology made the featherie obsolete, Robertson opposed the new ball. Morris simply went his own way and began making his own balls. He was also a club maker, course designer, and champion golfer.

Morris won four Open Championships during the 1860's, and is the oldest person ever to win the Open Championship, at age 46. He was Keeper of the Greens at Prestwick from 1851 to 1864, and Custodian of the Links at St. Andrews for nearly 40 years, until he retired in 1902.

Some of the courses he designed are Prestwick, Royal Dornoch, Muirfield, Carnoustie, Royal County Down, Nairn and Cruden Bay. His fee was £1 per day plus expenses. He standardized the golf course at 18 holes, introduced the idea of placing hazards so the ball could be routed around them (previously they were just there and you had to deal with it), and introduced the course design concept of each nine holes returning to the clubhouse.

Old Tom passed away in 1908, a few months after sustaining a fractured skull from falling down the stairs at the clubhouse.


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