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The Life of Tom Morris
Chapter XXII - Matches with Dow


In Gold of 30th June 1893 this paragraph occurs: "St Andrews Fine scoring by Old Tom Morris. In a match last week, Mr Everard playing against the best balls of Dr J. G. M'Pherson and Tom Morris, some fine scoring was made. This is a very severe handicap, for although Mr Everard went round in 83 and Old Tom in 80, Mr Everard was beaten by 5 up and 4 to play. Old Tom's score is remarkable as he is in his seventy-third year. His play is as good as ever, and he is the envy of his younger rivals. Tom's score was as follows:

Out, 4 5 6 5 4 5 5 3 4 - 41
In , 4 3 4 4 5 5 5 5 4 - 39
Total. . . 80

Mr Everard's figures were:

Out, 4 5 5 4 5 6 6 3 4 - 42
In . 5 4 4 5 5 4 4 5 5 - 41
Total. . . 83

The best ball score of Old Tom and Dr M'Pherson was:

Out, 4 5 5 5 4 5 5 3 4 - 40
In, 4 3 4 4 5 5 4 4 5 - 38
Total, . . 78

Tom was, in fact, playing so well that high hopes were entertained that he would win his match against Bob Dow (Montrose) for a handsome money stake subscribed by the members of the Montrose Royal Albert Golf Club. The match took place on the Montrose links on the 2Qth of July. The weather was excellent, and the greens in good condition. These hopes were not, however, realised. Dow was playing on his own links, and playing well. He won the first round by 5, and the second by 1, making him 6 up on the day's play.

Two days later Tom and Dow had a match with Mr W. Bouch (London) and Dr Stone, the Hon, secretary of the Royal Albert Golf Club. The weather was fine, though there was a very gusty wind. Old Tom was in good form, and was specially making a good use of his cleek and putter. Dow also played a good game, and had some splendid tee shots. Mr Bouch's long, powerful driving was much admired; but he was frequently unfortunate in playing his ball into hazards, from which it required all Dr Stone's skill with his niblick to extract them.

The Doctor also showed to advantage on the green. The professionals allowed Mr Bouch and the Doctor a third; but, notwithstanding this handicap, the latter were defeated in the first round by 3 up and 2 to play. In the second round the professionals were even more victorious, winning by 6 up and 5 to play. They also won the byes by i hole. The last time Tom Morris and Bob Dow had played together previously in a foursome was twenty-three years ago at Hoylake with Tom Dunn and Jack Morris. In the end of August a professional tournament took place at Kilmalcolm, organised by the local club. Tom was present, and "created a good deal of interest amongst the West Country devotees of the game as he drove oil." Tom, however, found the undulating character of the course too much for him, and gave up during the first round, but received the prize of 1 awarded to the oldest competitor. The prize-list is interesting owing to the number of now-famous names in it. The English professionals were golfing en route to the Open Championship at Prestwick, (1) A. Herd, 141; (2) Willie Fernie, 142; (3) Ben Savers, 147; (4) J. H. Taylor, 148; (5) Hugh Kirkaldy and Harry Yardon, 150. Braid does not seem to have been present. The men then went on to Prestwick to play for the Open Championship. It was won by W. AuchterIonie with 322 ; J. E. Laidlay, 324; Herd was 325, Hugh Kirkaldy, 326; Andrew Kirkaldy, 326; and Old Tom 383. I note that Mr Garden G. Smith was 26 strokes better (359). Thereafter the players went over to the Emerald Isle to play for the Irish Championship at Newcastle, Co. Down, when W. Auchterlonie was again successful, 322; A. Herd, 325; Hugh and Andrew Kirkaldy, 326; Taylor, 333; Ben Sayers, 335; Harry Vardon, 344; Tom Vardon, 345; and Old Tom, 383.

In the practice play for the St Andrews Autumn Meeting Tom Morris's shop played a somewhat peculiar part. Mr Frank Fairlie and "Freddy" Tait were playing Mr A. F. Macfie and Mr Charles Hutchings. The former couple were dormy 1 in the first round, but, approaching the last hole, "Freddy" played a characteristically long shot with his cleek. It was, however, very much on the line. The ball alighted on the roof of Tom Morris's shop, and from there rolled down under a pile of wood on the roadway. It was quite unplayable, and the hole was lost and the match halved. In the afternoon, however, "Freddy" and his partner won by 4 and 3 to play: as, indeed, they were entitled to, as their score was the fine one of 79. Mr Mure Fergusson won highest honour at this meeting with 79; "Freddy" was second with 80, and Mr Charles Hutchings and Mr Enilev Bkickwell were each 82.

On 31st October Tom Morris and Job Dow had a 36-hole tussle at St Andrews. Mr Keverard is the chronicler of it in a characteristic article. He tells us that "an appreciative if select company were ready to follow the fortunes of the veterans on the classical green," and he continues: 'Needless were it to expatiate on the varied events of 'Old Tom,' sketches of whose career have been repeatedly written; but it may be assumed that Bob Dow is not so well known to fame. Nevertheless, he has attained a fair proficiency in the game, which he has played since boyhood, and, fifty years ago, used to carry for the well-known Mr Campbell, of Saddell. Ever to be remembered by Dow is the Prince of Wales's wedding-day (the present King), for that date marks his introduction to Montrose, engaged by the Royal Albert Club as their professional a post he has held ever since. Never quite strong enough to win outright in a professional field indeed, such players as 'Young Tommy' and Davie Strath could have given him a third --Dow, nevertheless, could play a sound and steady game, and with a long driver on his side was a capital partner. Another day impressed on Dow's recollection, and perhaps naturally, is the Saturday when he and Old Tom, his present opponent, played Tom Dunn and Jack Morris for 10. The latter made an excellent start by winning 5 out of the first n holes, notwithstanding which, they were ultimately defeated by 2.

"This much concerning the past. As to the present, the interest in the match has regard rather to the ages of the two veterans than to any prospective excellence of play. Their years combined amounted to 133, Tom having been born on June 15, 1821, and Dow, June 14, 1832. The former, therefore, had what, at an earlier period of life, might be the advantage to the extent of eleven years; but it was not noticeable, so far as knowledge of the game went and of the proper club to use, that these years had brought any increment of wisdom; consequently Tom had to rely upon his physical prowess alone. Briefly, we may recall the circumstance that last summer he won the Club-Makers' Medal, with a score of 83, defeating, among others, no less a person than the present champion, William Auchterlonie. Thus, apart from his general play, there was some justification for the odds laid upon him, which, exactly stated, were in proportion of 21 to 16. So much, therefore, by way of introduction. So far as weather was concerned, the day was perfect. A sharp frost during the night made the ground hard, yet not sufficiently so to interfere with good play; on the contrary, the day was eminently favourable to low scoring. Torn began well. Two good shots took him across the burn (a feat Dow did not attempt either in the forenoon or afternoon), and a steady 5 saw him up. Dow now drove into ' the Scholar's Bunker,' when he was unable at all to emerge, and therefore picked up his ball. This inability on his part to clear the lace of a bunker was very marked; he seemed entirely lacking in the necessary knack (acquired through doleful experience by every St Andrews player) of getting out of a sandy hazard at the expense of 1 stroke only, this deficiency costing him innumerable strokes in the course of the day's play. It was now Tom's turn to make acquaintance with such hazards as the course affords, and they are many and varied in character. A visit to the 'Principal's nose' was the primary cause of his losing the third hole, and a deplorably bad shot far into the whins close to the railway bridge cost him the fourth; the match therefore was all square. A well-played 4 at the Klysian Fields gave him the lead again, which, however, he assumed only to see it immediately wrested from him, Dow here playing faultless golf. Hole about followed, and at the end, to quote a historical report of a match of bygone years, 'The veteran laid his approach shot stone-dead; but subsequently, however, failed to hole.' Dow here holed out well from about two yards, hence this slip on Tom's part gave the Montrose professional an unexpected lead of 1. Tom, however, thoroughly outplayed him at the tenth, the only really good hole he had during the round; his first drive was beautifully followed up by a perfect middle spoon shot, well winded, which, with a little luck, might have produced a 3. All square. From this point Dow had it all his own way, winning 4 out of the next 6 holes, but as he lost the burn he finished 3 up and 18 to play. The veracious chronicler must admit the fact that better golf might have been looked for, especially from Tom, who has a really strong game in him. Doubtless he can summon it at will, as Glendower his spirits; still, Hotspur may hint a certain coyness of response.

"By no possibility could this winner have missed a three-figure score had the second hole been played out. Also, it is worthy of remark that not one of the first 12 holes was halved, a further indication of the unstable character of the play. Thus far Tom's backers had little cause for jubilation, but in the afternoon a wonderful change for the better took place. He was well on his game for the greater part of the round, which at one time promised to be a really low one, though in the end, a 7 and four 6's some-
what spoiled the 1 actual total, which was 91. Still, it was obvious that he could do much as he pleased with Dow, whom he outdrove severely, and with tolerable regularity. The first 2 holes were halved. Tom then won 3 in succession, the last being particularly well played in 4. All square on the day. Tom also won the next, and after two halves lost the end hole. Turning homewards, the first hole was halved, but then, by altogether stronger play, the elder veteran won 5 holes in succession and the match ; he also won i of the 3 remaining holes.

"The second half of the match was played over the Montrose course on the 1st of November. Tom was 4 up at the end of the first round, 83 and 88. Both were off their play in the second round, and the exhibition was disappointing. Tom won by 7 up on the day's play. Dow won the bye. They again played at [Montrose on the 3oth November, when Dow won by I hole."

Here is a detailed account of this the last match these veterans played, and as it is highly characteristic of both we give it in full.

"It does not follow that because Tom is 'Old Tom ' Bob is 'Young Bob.' There are ten years between them, it is true; but Bob is sixty-two. He is more energetic than his renowned elder, but he is not so sure. Tom ages perceptibly, but his swing is yet good and his drive is still long. Bob Dow would not like to be called an old man. Nor at threescore and two is he; but his game is scarcely what it was. By taking thought he could make it much better than it was yesterday. Still, it was an interesting enough match. Bob had come back from St Andrews 4 holes to the bad, and that, too, after making a very fair start. Bob somehow seems nervous in these matches, but it was hoped he would come out all right on his own green. Montrose Links never looked better than they did in yesterday's sunshine. It is a long and trying course, but it affords capital scope for the varied skill of the crack golfer. If he cross the 'Cannons' gully in safety, and cheat the 'Coffin,' are there not the perils of the Girdle? And if these be passed, are there not the desert dangers of the long hole through the field, and the hideous earthworks called bunkers which confront the player as he approaches the hole near the skating pond? which latter, by the way, now holds water. Everything being favourable, we looked for a good display. There was none of what a magazine writer has called 'this d---d Englishry' of golf in yesterday's game. It was a serious, solemn, dignified Scots match between two of the old dogs, in both of whom there is yet considerable life.

"It is not my province to describe hole by hole the play. That infliction can be sought elsewhere. It is enough here to note a few points of the match for the benefit of striving and deserving amateurs, and to do so in a way that may interest even the good man who in this age of golf lias the misfortune not to know a brassey from a cutting cleek. It is a misfortune, but it can be remedied; and in golf, as in other things, as no less a person than the late Irish Secretary reminds ns it is better to have a late conversion than to remain unregenerate. The spectators yesterday might not have witnessed the brilliant strokes they have seen on St Andrews, Prestwick or Hoylake, but in the steady play of the two hardy, resolute, and withal genial old men, there was much to interest and much to admire for its own sake. There were several things calculated to cheer the heart of the observant duffer. Professionals, even at sixty-two and seventy-two, are just as other men, in that they do not always profit by the experience of their fellows. Time and again yesterday, when one of the old warriors would make a blunder, it was promptly repeated by his opponent. Now Tom would be scant with his cleek, and it was quite evident that Bob could not hope to reach the green with his either, but all the same he persisted in having a try, with the result that both lay short. Even old stagers can make, a muddle in long grass or whin. Tom lost several strokes in this way, and Bob had quite a partiality for bunkers. But how pleasantly each played out of his difficulty, and with what good temper. The tyro would have broken clubs and cursed. Like all true golfers, Morris and Dow wield the wooden putter. (In the eyes of which eminent golfer does gun-metal or other patent made favour?) And how beautifully and naturally, not to say fondly, did they handle the club. Tom was invariably deadly on the green. Bob was nervous, erratic and weak. Like ordinary golfers, however, even fine old players like Dow and Morris experience their difficulties in keeping the score. The scoring card is an invention of ' the Englishry,' the Scot is above strokes, and only reckons the game as it should be reckoned by holes; but all the same it is well to know what your opponent is down in if you have forgotten the odds played. It was at the Long hole, and no one was quite sure what it had cost. The players themselves were appealed to. 'Fat wis you in, Tom? ' queried Bob. 'I played 4 oot th' bunker,' was the reply. Then Bob told what he had done, and it was found the hole was halved in 7. The match was won at the Skating Pond hole, and here again the line feeling between the two old men manifested itself afresh. Bob had encountered difficulties in the first bunker, but with a beautiful cleek shot he reached the green, and lay what ought to have been dead. Tom played his putter from the edge of the green, and lay even closer to the cup. Bob, playing 2 more, failed to get down, but laid his man a dead stymie. Tom had 2 for the hole, and it was his anyhow by playing round; but to afford the old St Andrews champion an opportunity of showing his quality, Dow gave him the hole, and asked him to try and putt it with his iron. 'I dinna ken if I'll manage' said Tom as he reached for his lofter and seriously regarded the stymie, but he set himself to the task, and the spectators had the pleasure of witnessing as pretty a loft over Bob's ball and into the hole as they could have wished. The crowd showed its approval, and Old Tom looked pleased. The match was over Morris 7 up and 5 to play on the day; and there was talk whether the remaining holes should be played out. Tom, triumphant, lighted his pipe, and regarded the question with indifference. Bob suddenly remembered that there were 'some ither bets' on, and it was resolved to finish. Bob easily pulled off the bye. His closing play was remarkably strong. But for that matter neither player at the finish looked any the worse for his 36 holes. The old dog for the long journey, they say. The scores were not brilliant, but the exhibition was one of the higher golf. It was an eminently Scottish match. Stroke for stroke and putt for putt it was a genuine struggle 'twixt two old men. And the older fairly won.''


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