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
"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
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.
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
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
"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
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)
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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