A GREAT incentive to
professional golf, and to golf in general, was given by the institution of
the Open Championship in 1860 four years before Tom left Prestwick.
To Prestwick belongs the credit of instituting the Open Championship, and no
doubt Tom Morris and his friends had a good deal to do with its inception
and popularity. It commenced in 1860, and for eleven years it was played for
over the links at Prestwick. The Champion Belt was the first of its
trophies. It was to be held for a year by its winner, and was to become the
absolute property of anyone who won it three successive years. Willie Park,
of Musselburgh, won it in the vear of its institution thus defeating Tom on
what then were his own links. His score was 174. In the two following years
Tom won it with the consistent scores of 163. Golfers of those days asked
themselves: "Would he: win it again in 1863?"
No; Willie Park once more came to the front and won it with 168 strokes. Tom
was, however, again successful in 1864, with 167. Then a new name appears
with the best score at which it had yet been won. The winner was Andrew
Strath, of St Andrews; his score, 162. Next year it again became Tom's, with
160. In 1867 his successful rival was his own son, Tommy, who won with by
far the best recorded score, 154. Next year he won it with 157, and in 1870
he did what his father had never been able to achieve. He won the Belt for
the third time in succession, and by the rules of the play it became his
property. His score was 149. Many a time have I seen the coveted belt taken
out of its case and handled with great reverence by his father. Six years
before this, in 1864, Tommy had made his debut in Perth. My friend, Mr Peter
Baxter, in his most admirable book, Golf in Perth and Perthshire, which
every golf-book collector should have in his possession, writes: "The Perth
tournament of 1864 will ever be kept in remembrance as the first occasion on
which the Admirable Crichton of golf, young Tom Morris, engaged in a public
combat. As is well known, young Tom had journeyed to Perth with the view of
playing as an amateur. Denied in this, and conscious of his inability to
play on equal terms with the professionals present, the chances were all
against his striking a ball on the Perth green. Happily, one or two of the
Perth golfers found a way out of the difficulty, and the incident has since
become historical. At that time, and for many years before and alter, Dr
Thomas Miller, a distinguished St Andrews mathematician, was Rector of Perth
Academy (I may interject here that he was the father of the Rev. T. D.
Miller, of Kirkurd, well known as a golfer and as a writer on golf), and it
was his custom for many years to offer a medal for competition among the
boys attending the senior classes of the Academy. One of the boys, Willie
Greig, had been showing such good golf that season that the school were
unanimous that he would carry off the Rector's medal. The victory was a
popular one, and Willie Greig was the hero of the Academy in the term during
which the first Perth tournament took place. The late Joe Smith had the
leading part in getting up the unique match between the boys, Willie Greig
and Tommy Morris, who at that time would be each about thirteen years of
The year was 1864: the first year in which the green on the famous North
Inch of Perth was arranged as a 12-hole course a distance of about 2½ miles.
The month was April the year at the spring when young Tommy, in the spring
of his life, which was never to see full summer or happy autumn days, went
forth to play Willie Greig. It had been a big week of golfing in Perth, fur
it was the occasion of the first golf tournament ever held in Perth. The
first recorded tournament had taken place in St Andrews in 1857, when, in
response to an invitation from the Royal and Ancient Club,
[Since writing the above, I find, in consulting that very fine volume,
Chronicles of Blackheath Golfers, with illustrations and portraits, edited
by W. E. Hughes, late Hon. Secretary of the Blackheath Golf Club (London:
Chapman & Hall, Limited, 1897), that the original idea of the tournament
issued from Prestwick. On 6th April 1857, Mr John Cuthbert,the Secretary of
the Prestwick Golf Club, wrote to the secretaries of eight clubs, proposing
the tournament, and naming St Andrews or Prestwick as alternative links. If
the club agreed to play, the secretary was to name "which of the two links
you prefer, as the majority will decide."
In regard to the institution of tournaments, Mr W. Dalrymple writes me: "So
long ago as ijth April 1855, the project of initiating some Grand National
Golfing Club (after the curling model, possibly) had been in the air; and on
that date Mr John Dun best known to English golfers as of Warrington, and
Manager of Parr's Bank intimated a formal motion, advocating some such
scheme, at a meeting of the Innerleven Golf Club, with Rintoul of Lahill,
then Captain, in the chair; and was requested to correspond with other clubs
on the matter and report to the autumn meeting. He did report as desired;
and the Captain Wemyss of Wemyss Castle offered to lay the proposal before
the St Andrews Club, with a view to carry out the scheme. On this question
Innerleven minute books are silent until I5th April 1857, when a general
meeting assembled to consider a proposal by the Prestwick Club, to institute
a match between the following clubs, to come off on St Andrews links, viz.:
St Andrews, Perth, Blackheath, Musselburgh, Prestwick, Carnoustie, North
Berwick and Innerleven."]
two representatives of each of the leading golfing societies appeared to
compete for it. Thirteen Clubs accepted the invitation, but the
representatives of the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers and of the
Carnoustie Panmure failed to put in an appearance. Blackheath won this
tournament, having defeated the Royal and Ancient Club, St Andrews, by 7
holes, becoming, as its minute of 24th April 1858 proudly puts it, "the
champion Golf Club of the world." The same minute records the election to
life membership of Mr Glennie and Captain Stewart, who won the trophy for
the Club. The prize was a claret jug. It is engraved with two golfing
subjects, and bears the following inscription: "Won by George Glennie and
Lieutenant J. C. Stewart, members of the Royal Blackheath Golf Club, at the
First Golf Tournament, held at St Andrews, Fife, in the year 1857.
Mr George Glennie
Mr George Glennie is well known to all golfers. Captain Stewart was one of
the last of the Stewarts to hold land in Appin. His regiment was the 72nd
Highlanders. He died not long ago. It was after being ordered to India that
Old Sutherland made moan, "It is a shame of a man with such golfing powers
to go out to India." Old Tom has said that he never knew a harder striker
than Captain Stewart of Fasnacloich or George Condie.
Another tournament was held the following year (1858), in which the
conditions were changed from Clubs to individual players.
The third great tournament at St Andrews (1859) was won by Mr George Condie,
Perth, who defeated Sir Robert Hay by holes.
These tournaments no doubt paved the way for the Perth event of 1864. The
credit for its initiation and success was due very much to the late Mr Hay
Robertson and Mr Horace Skeete. On the committee were also Major Chalmers,
happily still alive, and Mr J. Watson Lyall, who was then Editor of the
The competition on Tuesday, the 12th April 1864, was for professionals. The
game was 3 rounds of 12 holes each, for prizes of 10, 5 and 3. As this
tournament is not recorded in full, or at all, in any of the several golf
books to which I have at present access, the scores of the leading
professionals and amateurs may be interesting to many. Morris, Prestwick,
168; W. Park, Musselburgh, 168; Andrews, Perth, 170; D. Park, Musselburgh,
170; Brown, St Andrews, 175; A. Strath, St Andrews, 177; Major Boothby,
Perth, 179; Mr Marshall, Lcven, 184; Mr Alex. Laurie, Perth, 184; Mr C.
Hunter, Prestwick, 184; Mr W. Stewart, Perth, 186; W. Strath, St Andrews,
187; X. M'Pherson ("The Herd Laddie"), 190; Sgt.-Major Chalmers, Perth, 190;
Mr N. M'Gregor, Perth, 190; Mr N. Carse, North Berwick, 190.
Mr Peter Baxter, in his excellent chronicle of the tournament in his Golf in
Perth and Perthshire, says: "Morris and Park were exceptionally steady in
their play, considering they were on a strange green." Tom was 57, 57, 54;
Willie 55, 56, 57.
"At the end of the second round Brown was fancied to win, but in the third
round he went completely off his play." This was G. D. Brown, a tall,
handsome Englishman who, in the years of my youth, was a professional at St
Andrews, where he had a golf-club and ball shop. His scores on this occasion
were 54, 53 and 68. "Andrews played, upon the whole, his ordinary fine game,
his 58's in the second and third rounds being caused by misfortunes at a
single hole (the mid-bunker to 'Peninsula') in each case." His first round
was 54. This was "The Rook" the "local hero who, for a week or two previous
to the tournament, had been doing the round daily at a stroke or two above
50." Davie Park of Musselburgh outdistances everybody in his third round
with a splendid 51 the best round in the whole tournament.
Next day, immediately on the conclusion of the gentlemen's competition,
which was won by Major Boothby with 177, the professionals started to play
off the ties of the previous day the conditions being 24 holes, or 2 rounds.
Tom Morris did these in 53 and 57, to Willie Park's 57 and 67, while Bob
Andrews beat Davie Park by no less than twelve strokes, returning two 53's
to Park's 60 and 58. He was the hero of the ties, being 106 to Tom's 110,
Davie Park's 118, and Willie Park's 124. The four first on the list were
therefore Tom Morris, winner, Willie Park, Bob Andrews and Davie Park.
An excellent and exciting match was decided on the Thursday, Major Boothby
and Tom Morris playing against Mr George Condie and Bob Andrews. The St
Andrews players won by i hole. On the same day Willie Park bent Andrew
Strath by 3 holes; and Davie Park won a £5 prize for the unsuccessful
professionals, beating Andrew Strath by 2 strokes. In this event, Dow of
Musselburgh was third, and Mr Baxter tells us that "The Musselburgh Dow was
not at all pleased by his poor appearances, and issued a challenge to Davie
Park to play i round. Park promptly accepted, and Dow had the satisfaction
of winning by 1 hole. Perhaps the most important of the after professional
contests was that in which Tom Morris and Willie Park, the first and second
men in the tournament, opposed Bob Andrews and Andrew Strath. Andrews'
knowledge of the green was supposed to balance the superiority of Morris and
Park. Great interest was manifested in the foursome, and a large crowd
followed the players from start to finish. Loud cheers were raised when the
last putt gave the verdict to Andrews and Strath by 1 hole."
And now we come to the match between young Tommy and Willie Greig, for which
£5 was the prize. This is how it is chronicled in a contemporary report:
"Perhaps the most interesting match of the day was between Master Morris,
son of the redoubtable 'Tom,' and Master William Greig, of, as it seems,
Perth juvenile golfing celebrity. They are really wonderful players for
their years, both of them. We had no idea that very 'young' Perth could
produce so proficient a golfer as Master Greig. He played with astounding
neatness and precision, but the honours of the day were in store for his
competitor. He has been cast in the very mould of a golfer, and plays with
all the steadiness and certainty in embryo of his father. The juvenile
competition was extremely interesting, and although the young Prestwicker
gained the day, Perth has the very opposite of any reason to be ashamed of
her youthful champion. It was very funny to see the boys followed by
hundreds of deeply-interested and anxious spectators."
The match took place on Thursday, the I4th April 1864.
On Friday the weather was bad when Andrew Strath and Davie Park had 3
rounds, the former winning by 5 holes. Mr Alex. Imrie and Willie Park played
Mr Johnstone and Tom Morris and gained the victory by 1 hole.
On the Saturday, in beautifully fine weather, the King James VI. dub of
Perth tried conclusions with the St Nicholas Club of Ayr.
The players numbered ten a-side, and 2 rounds of the green were played. The
King James VI. Club had a big victory, "as great," says Mr Baxter, "as it
was unexpected, for at that time 'ye linkes att Air' were to the south what
St Andrews was to the north." The Ayr St Nicholas got only 2 holes, Mr
Knight beating Mr W. Stewart by 1, and Mr C. Hunter (our friend Charlie)
beating Captain Pratt, R.K., by 1.
The Perth Club won 38 holes and thus gained the match by 36.
On the same day a great match was played between Bob Andrews and Dow of
Musselburgh. The game was played under the tournament rules 3 rounds of the
links. At the end of the second round Andrews was 4 up, but in the third
round Dow came away with a great game, drew level, and eventually won the
match by 2 holes. Perth people were naturally disappointed with this result,
and pointed out that Andrews may have been fatigued with a match he had
played in the morning of the same day. Another match was arranged for a
purse of sovereigns. It took place on the Monday. Andrews early took the
lead, and, refreshed with his "Sawbath's" rest, did the round in 49. He
retained his advantage in the second round. Dow again played well up in the
third round, but eventually had to own defeat by 6 holes and 5 to play.
Perth was badly bitten by the tournament fever, and another was arranged two
years later for 1866. All the old professionals were again present, with the
addition of young Tommy, who would then be a lad of fifteen years of age.
The largest concourse of spectators turned out to witness the match between
old Tom and Bob Andrews, who had been drawn together. At the Pond hole both
he and Andrews were on the green in 3. Tom played the odd and lay within
three inches of the hole. Andrews ran down a good putt. Tom knocked away his
ball with his putter to the teeing-ground close by, forgetting that it was a
stroke, not a hole, match. His attention was, of course, drawn to what he
had done. Andrews offered to allow Tom to replace his ball, but Tom was too
honourable not to see he had disqualified himself. The scoring of many of
the players was low during the first round. Andrew Strath was round in 50,
followed by a young and powerful amateur, and Bob Andrews in 51. The amateur
was one whom all golfers now know as Dr J. G. MTherson. Eventually the
tournament was won by "The Rook" Bob Andrews, Perth, 159; Andrew Strath,
Prestwick, 161; Willie Dow, Musselburgh, 161; Bob Kirk, St Andrews, 166; Mr
J. G. MTherson, St Andrews, 166; Watt M'Donald, Perth, 168; Tom Morris, St
Andrews, 171; Major Boothby, Perth, 173; Mr W. Dolman, Glasgow, 174; Tom
Morris, jun., St Andrews, 177. On playing off the tie for the second place,
Dow won with 54 for 12 holes, against Strath's 56.
Players at St Andrews in the sixties
Next day the amateurs' competition was held. The first three were: Sergt.-Major
Chalmers, Perth, 170; J. G. MTherson, St Andrews, 172; William Stewart,
Perth, 175. Had M'Pherson played as well as he did the day previous, he
would have been an easy winner. In the afternoon, Major Boothby and Tom
played George Condie and Bub Andrews, and the latter couple won by the large
margin of 11 holes. There was a supper in the Royal George in the evening
mine host, Mr John Kennedy, a keen "sport," as I remember well. Golf was the
talk of the night. Old Tom let it be known that he and a partner he had in
his eye would play any two present.
Willie Park replied that he would take young M'Pherson and play Tom and his
choice. But Matherson was the amateur player Tom had chosen. Willie Park
then chose Bob Andrews, and the match took place on the following day.
The play on both sides was good. Tom and young M'Pherson were 1 hole up and
2 to play. The next hole was halved, so they were now dormy 1. Tom's
account, says Mr Peter Baxter, of what followed is, that when the last green
was reached they were about to play 1 off 2. The green was hard-baked, and
his first putt was neither good nor bad. His partner tried to hole, and ran
three or four yards past down a grassless slope. Tom missed! The hole was
lost, and the match not won. Gordon M'Pherson held that Tom was at fault in
running the ball past and above the hole, in playing 1 on 2. For yards round
the hole the grass had gone, and a glaze was over all. The only chance of
holing down the slope was to bolt it. The half of the match was secure.
Accordingly M'Pherson tried to bolt the ball, but, jumping over the centre
of the hole, missed. Of coursr old Tom was out of holing distance. Each was
of opinion that the other did wrong, and it is very unlikely that they will
change their opinions after all these years. However, the incident may serve
to keep the visit of 1866 to the North Inch of Perth fresh in both memories,
and we trust that the day is yet far distant when the golden chord may be
Another match Tom played on this occasion was with Bob Kirk against Andrews
and Strath, who won by 6 up and 4 to play. A month later a return match was
played at St Andrews, when Tom and Kirk won by a putt at the last hole.
In ending his accounts of these tournaments, Mr Peter Baxter says: "In
having a couple of tournaments within two years, the Perth golfers thought
they had done well, and might rest on their oars lor a year or two.
Unfortunately, they have rested ever since."
Why should this be? Will Perth not distinguish itself some season in
arranging another tournament and bringing together the best professional
golfers in the country, on some occasion when they may be up in Scotland for
some other event?
It will be noticed that I give the name of the well-known Perth professional
as Bob Andrews. "The Rook" always wrote his name with the final s. His
family was of Fife extraction; originally the name was Andrew. But the
branch that came to Perth were called Andrews, or adopted that form of the
name. The name is given in the Badminton Golf and elsewhere as Andrew.