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The Life of Tom Morris
Chapter XII - Some famous golf matches in the 'sixties


THE date at which Tom's last great match with Willie Park was played was 1882. This takes us a considerable distance ahead of the period at which we otherwise have arrived in his history. In this chapter I shall record some matches in which he took part, which as yet have not been mentioned.

It was in 1849 that he and Allan Robertson beat the Dunns.

In May 1851 Tom played Willie Dunn, who was dormy one. The finish is thus described:

"The last hole was in a very peculiar place at the top of a hill, and Tom's ball first rolled down the east side, and the next putt sent it over again on the west. Seeing that he could not halve the match, Tom gave his ball a kick in disgust, while Dunn took a snuff and smiled satisfactorily, having the credit of taking the match by 2 holes."

In 1852 he and Allan beat Sir Robert Hay and Willie Dunn by 6 up and 5 to play over 2 rounds of St Andrews links.

In 1854 he and Bob Anderson beat Allan Robertson and Willie Dunn.

In 1857 Willie Park and he were partners, and were defeated by Allan Robertson and Andrew Strath by 6 holes in 2 rounds.

In the same year he played a very good game against Captain Maitland Dougall. Tom was round in 82 (39 out, 43 home), the record for the time. The Captain was only three strokes behind.


Dr Robert Chambers

In 1858 Tom played what he considers was one of the most interesting matches of his life. His partner was his brother George, and their opponents Willie and Davie Park. George was Tom's elder brother. He was for long in service in the family of Dr Robert Chambers, the publisher. He had, I am told, perhaps rather a prettier style than Tom, but he was not such a steady player. His name frequently appears on the medal list of the St Andrews Club. The match was one of 36 holes, and the brothers were never ahead until they gained the last hole and won the match. Previous to this, Willie Park, then a young lad of twenty, had beaten George Morris in a single. Park was in such great form that Allan Robertson, as a spectator, said, "He frichtens us a' wi' his long drivin'." In the second round he took the first 8 holes, and then George gave forth the famous petition, 'For the love o' Gode gi'e me a hauf ' Park won by some 10 or 12 holes.

About this time were played the matches of which Mr H. Thomas Peter writes in his Reminiscences of Golf and Golfers, by an Old Hand. "I claim," he writes, "to have played with three others in a foursome a greater number of rounds over St Andrews than had ever been done before (though whether since I, of course, do not know). The players were my brother O'Brien (King William IV. Medal Holder in the Royal and Ancient, 1851) and Tom Morris, against Allan Robertson and myself. We played for 2 days consecutively, five rounds each day ; and the match ended in a draw. When we finished Allan said he had never had ' sic a belly fu' o' gouff a' his days.' Neither, I take it, had the rest of us. We were young and agile then, and what can be compared to a game of golf in the heyday of youth over the magnificent turf of St Andrews with such partners as Allan and Tom? It was only after dark we could strike our colours."

In 1860, while still residing at Prestwick, as the result of some conversation among golfers, and perhaps some betting, Tom went out to the quarry beneath the famous Bridge of Ballochmyle, and from a stick elevated horizontally he endeavoured to hit golf balls over the Bridge. This, however, proved to be beyond his skill, but he succeeded time after time in lofting them on to the pathway, which stands four hundred feet above the quarry in which he stood.

In 1864 he and Andrew Strath tackled Willie and David Park. Strath and he were 4 up and 14 holes to play. The Parks, however, managed to pull up, and won the match of 36 holes by 6. The Parks' rounds were 89 and 85 against 88 and 95 nine strokes better. In regard to the play of Tom Morris and Willie and David Park, though not with particular reference to this match, Mr A. H. Doleman says:

"Willie was the more brilliant player, Tom the steadier. The great features in Willie's play were his driving and his putting. His approach was scarcely so good, both Old Tom and Willie's brother Davie being, in my opinion, better approachers with the iron."

In the month of December 1864 Tom played in rather an extraordinary game which took place at midnight. His partner was a Dr Knowex, a surgeon-dentist, a French-Canadian, who had settled at Ayr, but who afterwards went to San Francisco and died there. Their opponents were Major Crichton and Charlie Hunter, who now occupies Tom's billet at Prestwick. The match was played at Prestwick, and a start was made from the old Golf Park House at u p.m. The expected moon did not put in an appearance, and the game was played in almost total darkness. It is said they took two and a half hours to play the round of 12 holes, but that only two balls were lost.

In regard to the scores of golfers in those old days at Prestwick when it was a 12-hole round the 18-hole round was not instituted until 1883 it is rather curious that there are almost no records to go on. Even in the early championship matches no detailed scores seem to have been preserved, and not always even the totals for each round. There is, however, a detailed record of one round. The occasion was the spring meeting of the Prestwick Golf Club, and the players were Willie Park and Tom Morris. The following are the details:

Park, 6 5 4 5 6 4 2 5 5 4 3 4 - 53

Morris, 7 5 4 6 6 4 3 6 3 4 3 6 - 57


This match Park won by 3 up and 2 to play. It is said that Park's 53 was the lowest he ever accomplished in an important match over Prestwick, though on one occasion he holed out in 52. Tom in the 1862 championship had a 52, and he is said to have gone round in as low as 50. If this were the case it is only 2 strokes over 4 very excellent golf for Prestwick Links in those days.

On his return to St Andrews in 1865 he began to play a great many foursomes with members of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, which more or less may be described as recreation, but he also established a partnership with young Bob Kirk, and the two fought and won many a battle together. They beat the two brothers, Willie and Davie Park, at St Andrews, Willie Park and Andrew Strath at Prestwick, and on the same green, Willie Park and Dow.

On the 17th September 1866 a match took place, which was done into verse by one of the players, the pleasant and genial Mr D. L. Burn. Tom and Colonel Walker played Mr Burn and Mr David Lamb, one of a triumvirate of brothers whom I remember well "Ha," "Cha," and "Da," as they were called in those days. Mr David Lamb is the only one of the brothers now alive. He still plays a first-rate game, still takes an interest in the affairs of the city, and still can castigate his civic opponents in letters to the local newspapers.

The play of the first hole is thus described:

"Attended by their ragged cads,
Four dirty young St Andrews lads,
Waiting each player's stern command
To tee his ball with practised hand.
Burn struck his ball towards the burn.
The Colonel followed in his turn,
I he iirst lay sweetly on the swan I,
The second met its just reward,
And plunged into the muddy stream.
Not a good stroke was that, I ween,
Which lett poor Tom to play one more,
Whilst Lamb and Burn holed out in tour."

And the second hole:

"The Lamb led off with dashing stroke,
No word from old Tom Morris broke;
He sped a wondrous driven ball,
But anxious thought was in his eye,
Till far and safe he saw it fall.
Though nought revealed to standers-by
The mind within, well skilled to hide
His well-concealed but honest pride.
Altho' his smile is beaming now,
Said more than words could well avow
The hole played out was fairly won,
And Lamb and Burn were both outdone."

And the fifth:

"The gallant Colonel drew his ball,
And into 'Hell ' we saw it fall.
'Ah, Colonel, now you've come to grief,'
Said Tom to his erratic chief.
But when to 'Hell's' black depths profound
He came on grassy tuft he found
The ball well teed by impious band,
Free from all danger, free from sand.
The hole was lost by Burn and Lamb,
So ' Hell ' in this case proved a sham."

Then, as if the poet had had enough of it, the match from the sixth to the eighteenth is thus summed up:

"I know not how the rest were done,
But this I know, the match was won
By Burn and Lamb, who, full of glee,
Did the last hole in only three."

The second round, we are told in prose, was a repetition of the first, only that "the gallant Colonel, being short-sighted, took all the bunkers for the putting holes, and gave the champion a great deal of iron work, which his adversaries applauded by ironical smiles."


Scottish Professionals (Open Tournament, Leith 1867)

On the 14th of May 1867 an open tournament was held at Leith, under the auspices of the Thistle Golf Club. We give the draw in full:

Davie Park v. Jamie Anderson; Old Tom v. Auld Willie (Park, sen.) Willie Dunn v. Willie Dow (of Musselburgh); George Morris (Old Tom's brother) v. Bob Dow (Montrose); Walter M'Donald v. Tom Hunter; Bob Kirk v Young Tom; Tom Brown v. G. Paterson (both of Musselburgh); Alexander Brown v. I. Campbell (of Musselburgh); Bob Fergusson v. Jamie Hutchison; Jamie Dunn v. Sandy Greig; Bob Andrews (Perth) v. A. Smith (Prestwick). The result was as follows: Fergusson, 131; Hunter, 132; Anderson, 133; Andrews, 133; Park, 134. In playing off their tic Andrews beat Anderson.

Of the professionals who took part in this competition some very admirable photographs were published by Mr T. K. Home Crawford, photographer, 130 Princes Street, Edinburgh. They speak for themselves. Copies of these photographs may still be had from Mr Home Crawford at a reasonable figure, and would make valuable additions to the pictures on the walls of club-rooms and private libraries of golfers. On 1st May 1867 Young Tom and Willie Dow beat Bob Kirk and Jamie Anderson by 3 up and 1 to play. On the third there was a professional competition for money prizes. The following is the prize-list: Kirk, 80; D. Park, 89; Old Tom, 90 ; Young Tom, 91; George Morris (Tom's brother), 91; Willie Dow, 95; Jamie Anderson, 95 ; Young Tom (84) beat Willie Dow (87) by 2 holes.

On the 6th of July Bob Kirk inflicted a very severe beating on Old Tom. He won the first round by 7, the second at the High Hole, and the bye at the Burn by 2.

On the 14th September Old and Young Tom beat Bob Kirk and Fergusson by 4 holes in a match of two rounds. The former were 85 for each round; the latter 88 and 91. Subsequently Kirk beat Young Tom in a single by 3. On the 2nd October, in another money competition, Bob Kirk \vas again first with 85. The next in order were Andrew Strath, 87; Bob Fergusson, 89; Old Tom, 90. On the 3rd, Old and Young Tom halved the first round with Andrew Strath and Kirk, but won the second by 3 and 2 to play.

In May 1868, Old Tom in a 2-round match beat Fergusson by 6 and 5 and won the bye by 2. Young Tom halved with Willie Dow and next day won by 7 and 5. Davie Park and Bob Fergusson beat Old and Young Tom in a final round by 4 and in a second by 3.

On the 8th of October, in a professional competition, Young Tom led with 87; Fergusson, 89; Jamie Anderson and D. Park, 90. On the 10th, Tommy had a tussle with Bob Kirk and was beaten in the first round by 7 Kirk taking 85 strokes and in the second, notwithstanding the fact that Young Tom won 5 holes out of the first 8, by 6 and 4. Young Tom, playing the best ball of Stewart and Maclaren, two University students, was round in 79 and 80, and it is recorded that 79 had only twice been done before once by Allan Robertson and once by Old Tom. At Prestwick, on the 22nd September, Old and Young Tom beat Willie Dow and Fergusson by 4. Young Tom beat Dow by 6.

On the 6th May 1869, at St Andrews, Fergusson and D. Park beat Old and Young Tom by 3 and 2. Next day Tommy, giving D. Buist a stroke, went round in 78. At Prestwick in the same year Bob Kirk and Davie Strath beat Young Tom and Jamie Anderson by I, but on the 15th Jamie and Tommy reversed matters and beat Kirk and Strath by 7 and 6. At Musselburgh in this year, on the 23rd of February, Willie Park and Bob Fergusson beat Old and Young Tom 4 in a match for 15 a side. On the 6th of March Young Tom and Fergusson halved in a match of 36 holes, and going other 9 holes Fergusson won by 1. On the 27th November Fergusson beat Old Tom over 36 holes by 4 and 3. In another match of 12 holes he won by 5 and 3, and the short match by 2. At Luffness this year Young Tom plays Fergusson for 20 and wins by 8 and 7; the bye by 2. On the 26th November, in a 34-hole match, Fergusson beat Old Tom by 5 and 3, but Tom won the bye by 1.

In 1868 and 1869 Tom and Bob Fergusson played six matches over Luffness and Musselburgh, and Bob Fergusson won them all. Of course, Bob was much the younger man, and his more appropriate opponent was Young Tommy, who, in 1869, beat him by 1 hole at Musselburgh.

Before leaving the 'sixties, let me say that it was in course of them that Tom Morris won the Open Championship four times. It was then played for over Prestwick links. Tom won it in 1861 with a score of 163, 9 strokes better than Willie Park's score when he won it in the year of its institution. In 1862 he again won "The Belt" in an equal number of strokes. In 1863 Willie Park won, but with a score of 168. In 1864 Tom won it for the third time with a score of 160 a record which was not impaired until, in 1868, Young Tommy won it with a score of 154. Tom won it for the fourth and last time in 1867 with a score of 170.


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