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The Life of Tom Morris
Chapter XXIV - From 1900


THE following appeared in The Dundee Advertiser of 11th January 1901: ' Notwithstanding the fact that old Tom Morris, the veteran golfer, is in his eightieth year he still moves about freshly. Daily he is seen enjoying a walk on the classic links and at the same time supervising with his keen eye the work of the green-keepers, while on other occasions he can be observed wielding his club with youth-like vigour. As showing his wonderful vitality, it might be mentioned that on the closing day of the year, and on the first day of the New Year, he engaged in a couple of rounds each day, taking part in a foursome with three Glasgow gentlemen. He played a remarkable game for his age."

About this time negotiations which Tom had entered into in regard to the well-known hazard, about which there has been so much controversy, known as ``The Stationmaster's Garden," were successfully carried through.

In Golf Illustrated of 25th January 1901, we find the following: "This world-famed hazard around which raged a historical controversy in the pages of Golf, was shorn of much of its terror by the new law as to 'out of bounds.' It still remained, however, a trap for balls. Assuming that the high walls were successfully scaled by the search-party no mean feat the disposition of the buildings and the confused jumble of rubbish and vegetation around them rendered it impossible to say in what direction the errant ball should be looked for, and if to play into it no longer involved the loss of the hole, it still too often meant the loss of the ball. The wise and good Tom Morris has, however, diplomatically approached the stationmaster with such success that easy access will hereafter be afforded to golfers who have driven into it, while the garden is to be so 'redded up ' that a lost ball will be almost an impossibility. Thus has Tom served the cause both of golf and horticulture. American golfers will no longer be bitterly disappointed with the contrast between the reality and the idyllic picture they had formed of the famous garden of the station-master, and even home-bred golfers will be obliged to confess that, after all,

"It really is a werry pretty garden
lf it wasn't for the 'ouses in between.'``

On Saturday, the 1st of February 1901 Tom assisted at the proclamation of the King at St Andrews. A correspondent thus describes the incident: ``The King was proclaimed at the Cross in Market Street last Saturday by Provost Ritchie Welsh, after a fanfare of trumpets. The procession was very ably marshalled in the Madras grounds, all public bodies being represented the University students, the Church, etc., and the Royal and Ancient Golf Club officially. The silver clubs were draped in crape and carried by the Club officer, Nicholas Robb, while to Old Tom Morris was assigned the less ponderous silver putter. The route was up South Street to the Cathedral, thence westwards down the length of North Street, round Abbotsford Crescent, and so through Hope Street up Market Street to the Cross. A rare pace was set, so much so that Old Tom was beginning to make rather bad weather of it, and announced that he would rather have played two rounds of the links."

In this month Tom acted as "skip" in a curling match which, on the invitation of Mr James Cheape of Strathtyrum, was played over the pond on the estate. The result was as follows:

On the 16th of March, the day before the old course closed for its annual rest, Tom had a match with his friend Mr Everard. He came "in" in the fine score of 43, and although he lost the match by two at the Burn, he averred that he was playing as good a game as he had done for the last twenty years. It is noticeable that James Anderson was out on the same day and played well in a foursome.

The meeting at which the Open Championship for 1900 was played for at St Andrews was a memorable one. The old grey city was gay with flags and bunting, for it was the day after Pretoria Day, and the people had been determined not to be a whit behind their neighbours in rejoicing over the fact that the stronghold of Kruger had succumbed to Lord Roberts, and that 4000 of our soldier prisoners were free. The night previous to its commencement had been given over to rejoicing and high jinks of various kinds. Everyone was still sporting appropriate favours, and Old Tom at the starting-point was not a whit behind the others, for he was sporting his red, white and blue rosette. It was memorable, too, on account of Taylor's winning the blue riband with 309 to Vardon's 317, and Braid's 322.

Later, "Tee Shots" in Golf Illustrated, June 22, contained the following paragraph: ``Tom Morris celebrated his seventy-ninth birthday on Saturday, the 16th, when he received the congratulations of his numerous friends and admirers. The veteran, who is as hale and hearty as ever, played a round of the links in the course of the day with Mr H. S. C. Everard." Immediately after this he further celebrated the event by laying out the golf course at Collieston a charming little fishing-village just north of Aberdeen hard by the famous sands of Towie.

The issue for the week following had the following paragraph: "Old Tom Morris, who attained his eightieth birthday on Sunday (says the Glasgow Herald], celebrated the occasion by playing a round on St Andrews links a custom which he has followed annually for a number of years past, and his partner was Mr H. S. C. Everard. The weather during the match was cold and stormy, the latter stages being finished in heavy rain. Notwithstanding his advanced age, Tom, who was in receipt of a third from his opponent, played a remarkably good game; and the match ended all square." This paragraph has caused much doubt and apprehension in Scotland, and I am able to state it is quite erroneous. The 'Grand Old Man' of golf passed his eightieth birthday (which was Sunday) in his usual quiet and devout manner, and it was on Monday that he 'celebrated the occasion' by engaging in a round with Mr Everard."

Tom's saying in regard to Sunday golf is well known: "If you gentlemen," he is reported to have said to two Englishmen desirous of playing on the Sunday, "dinna need a rest on the Sawbath, the links does."

In April several golfing relics were sent from St Andrews to the Glasgow Exhibition through the energy of the Rev. John Kerr of Dirleton, who has done so much for the game on its historical and literary side. They included the Championship Belt won by the late Tommy Morris, which is now, of course, the property of Old Tom; the putters of Tommy and his father, and those of Davie Strath and Allan Robertson.

A "Tee Shot" in Golf Illustrated of June 14, 1901, says: "Old Tom Morris, haler and heartier than ever, made the journey from St Andrews to Muirfield and graced the starting-point (at the Open Championship) with his genial presence."

"Jacky Fergusson and 'Fiery,`who was carrying for Willie Park, represented the ancient school of Musselburgh."

The same issue contains an excellent portrait of Tom along with Professor Sir John Chiene.

And another of June 21 says: "O for ane and twenty, Tarn!`` Old song. Heartiest congratulations and best wishes to Old Tom who reached his eightieth year last Saturday. Many more birthdays may he see! He had a round of the links on the forenoon of the previous Saturday."

Towards the end of June old Tom and the late Mr T.D). Forgan had a match playing square. Tom began badly by losing the first 4 holes, but nothing daunted he stuck to his man, and at the turn he was only 1 down. Coming home he played a good and steady game, but Mr Forgan eventually won the match 3 up and 2 to play. Tom came "in" in 44.

Tom was in great form on Saturday the 23rd of August. He went round in 86.

5 5 5 5 4 5 5 3 4 - 41
4 5 3 6 6 5 5 5 6 - 45
Total.... 86

During the whole of this summer he played a great deal and extremely well; better, he thought, than he had done for twenty years. One day he played with Mr Robert Strath, a visitor from Canada. Old memories of bygone days were awakened when the starter called out the once familiar combination of names, "Morris and Strath."

On the 12th of October Old Tom and Mr James Kirk, a well-known old St Andivws player, had a match with Mr William Doleman and Mr J. Jenkins, both fine players. The match was well contested. Tom and his partner led by 1 at the turn, but the match ended all square. Towards the end of this year the veteran had an invitation to visit Australia for the purpose of playing exhibition matches. But alas, his years were against his accepting the proposal, though it was a very tempting one.

Early in January 1902 Tom and Principal Story played a foursome with Mr Charles Anderson of Fettykill and Mr H. Anderson. Tom and the Principal won by 2 up and 1 to play.

In Golf Illustrated of July 4, 1902, this "Tee Shot" appeared: "Heartiest congratulations and best wishes to Old Tom, who attained his eighty-first birthday on Monday of last week. He is, I am glad to say, enjoying the best of health, and on his birthday played a round with Mr H. S. C. Everard. A short time ago he had a round on twelve consecutive days."

When Mr Andrew Carnegie was in St Andrews in the summer of this year, 1902, receiving the freedom of the city, he had a long chat with Old Tom and handed him his calling card, on the back of which he wrote, "Tom Morris, King of Golfdom, your loyal subject, A. C." He ordered two full sets of clubs to be sent to him to Skibo Castle.

At the Coronation procession at St Andrews there were two interesting features Old Tom and the officials of the Royal and Ancient Club carrying the famous silver clubs and balls, and also a lorry on which were several of Messrs Forgan's employees working at the different departments of club-making.

In Golf Illustrated, September 19, 1902, then is given an admirable photograph of Tom and his dog "Silver." And here I may state that about this time Sir George Reid was commissioned to paint Tom's portrait for the Royal and Ancient Club.

In the autumn of this year he had rather a sharp illness, but by November he was able to be about again, using as a staff a portable seat, so that he could sit down and have a rest at any time.

By the beginning of 1903 Tom was reported to be "quite himself again and able to dispense with his stick." In fact, on Hogmanay, the last day of the year, he played in a foursome.

By February our hero had given his last sitting to Sir George Reid, R.S.A., in Edinburgh, for his portrait for the Royal and Ancient Club. During his stay in Edinburgh he was the guest of Mrs Tait, widow of the Professor and mother of Freddy. He would be much made of in that erstwhile happy family circle.

In the spring of 1903 he laid out the golf course at Leuchars. His birthday greeting this year from Golf Illustrated was as follows: "Hearty congratulations and many happy returns of the day to Old Tom Morris, who celebrated his eighty-second birthday on Tuesday the 16th inst."

To a paper of mine in The Weekly Scotsman in June of this year, entitled, "A Chat with Tom .Morris," the veteran kindly sent me this message to give to boys. It is written by his son, J. O. F. Morris, and signed by Old Tom: "I would advise all boys, if they possibly can, to take plenty of fresh air, and if they prefer to take golf as a recreation I would advise them to take time and learn the game; also see that they do not lose their temper. In playing see that they swing quietly and keep their eye on the ball."

My old and dear friend, Frank Boyd, writing in his smartly-conducted paper, The Pelican, referring to this eighty-second birthday, says he "joins tens of thousands of players of the royal and ancient game in wishing its most representative figure many happy returns of the day." He tells us how he had the privilege of writing "Old Tom's" first interview a good many years ago, and adds: "On that occasion Tom, who had known me since I was a little boy, told me many things, some of which duly appeared in print and some of which stayed in my heart " a very pretty touch, friend Pelican " as they were meant to. Talking of how St Andrews even then was changing, and of how the old people were passing away, Tom said, ' Now that the Principal (Tulloch) has gone, there are only the Doctor (Boyd) and me left. And soon the Doctor will bury me and that will be the end of Tom.' But the end is not yet for Tom Morris by a long way, although he was one of those who helped to lower A. K. H. B. to his last sleep in
the beautiful churchyard within the ruins of the grand old Cathedral at St Andrews, looking out to the sea."

Sir George Reid's portrait of Tom arrived at St Andrews in August. It was voted a great success. It represents old Tom in a characteristic attitude. He is holding a mashie in his right hand, while his left is thrust into his trouser pocket. It remained on view for some days in the Club-House; and there it now has an honoured place.

In this month Lord Roberts, accompanied by Sir Ian Hamilton, paid a short, hurried visit to St Andrews. They went out a few holes of the old course and returned by the Jubilee course. They visited old Tom's shop, but unfortunately Tom was out playing and so a meeting between the two heroes in their respective fields did not take place.

On this visit The Edinburgh Evening Dispatch remarks: "Golf is a game which needs no advertisement, but there is no golfer who will not feel flattered by the delicate tribute which has been paid to the prevailing interest of the pastime by the Commander-in-Chief of the British Army. Lord Roberts, having some time to spare, took a tour last Friday to St Andrews.

And what came he forth for to see? The grey old city by the northern sea has a history and traditions reaching back to the units of antiquity. The scholar, historian, ecclesiastic and antiquarian all take pleasure in her stones; her very dust to them is dear. But what was it, according to the reporter, that chiefly engaged the attention of the Field Marshal? Not the Chapel of the Culdees, or the relics of the stately Cathedral, or the classic colleges, or the Bottle Dungeon, or the pulpit of 'A. K. H. B. His lordship, we are told, was taken out upon the links and was interested in the game of golf. What a contrast does this present between the old and new St Andrews! It is no longer chiefly known as the place whence the first stream of learning was sent abroad through Scotland, or where Papist and Reformer fought their fiercest battles for the faith. The ancient St Andrews flourished by the spread of learning and the preaching of the Word. The modern St Andrews flourishes by the royal and ancient game, and the distinguished visitor is taken to sec an exhibition of the popular pastime instead of the hoary antiquities."

In the autumn of 1903 Tom, feeling the infirmities of age, and thinking that a younger man would be able to give a greater amount of strength and energy to the task, gave up the custodianship of the links for which he had so long cared. According to Golf Illustrated it was "an event which may be said to mark the close of an epoch in the history of golf." The Club arranged that his salary should be continued. His successor was appointed at the October meeting. The choice of the dub fell on Hugh Hamilton, late of North Berwick, and at the date of his appointment green-keeper at Portmarnock, Ireland. The feeling of Tom's local admirers on his retirement was thus expressed by one of them.

"Where'er the game of Scotland runs
It and its minstrelsie
When hearts yearn hame to breezy links.
There's a kindly wish for thee.

Our a'e a'e wish is a lang, lang wish
(But it comes from a braid countree);
An' aye, an' aye the burden is,
'A blessing, Tom, for thee.``

Early in 1904 Principal Story was in St Andrews and Tom and he had a round. Shortly after this we find him at Kinghorn planning the extension of the course there. Mr M'Neil, ex-champion of Australia, writing to the Melbourne Leader on golfing topics, has the following concerning the veteran: "I spent a morning with old Tom Morris at St Andrews. There are two things which stand out about this wonderful old man. The first is his bright and healthful appearance; he might be sixty or seventy and he is really eighty-two. The second is his knowledge of every little point about the game and the leading players. Old Tom has a wonderful charm of manner, and altogether I felt it was a real privilege and education to spend that hour with him."

On February 19, 1904, Golf Illustrated had this bulletin in regard to him: "Old Tom is playing a great deal of golf just now. It is satisfactory to know that Tom continues in the very best health and spirits."

During the Whitsuntide recess this year Tom played a very good game in a match with Sir Walter Foster, M.P. He gave the member for the Ulverton Division a third and beat him by 2 and 1 to play. His score was 94 46 out and 48 in. He was particularly good in his driving lying within two yards of the long hole in 3, while at the High hole he was on the green with his second.


Tom Morris

On the 24th of June 1904 this appeared in ``Tec Shots`` Golf Illustrated: "I am but echoing the sentiments of every golfer when I tender my sincere congratulations to Old Tom, who on Thursday of last week attained his eighty-third year. He celebrated the day with his usual birthday round of the links. Mr H. S. C. Everard played the best ball of Old Tom and the Rev. Mr Parsons, giving them a stroke a hole. Old Tom was in splendid form and that in spite of a strong wind which blew right across the course. After very even play on the outward journey he led by a couple of holes at the turn, and continuing to play a fine, steady game coming home, he finally won by 6 up and 5 to play. The great feature of his piny was his driving from the tee and long game generally."


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