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The Life of Tom Morris
Chapter XXV - A Scotch Physician - Tom as head of the Faculty


TOM has frequently appeared in the pages of Punch, and the article which we quote describes him acting as an eminent Scotch physician the Head of the Faculty.

"Bulger was no cricketer, no tennis-player, no sportsman in fact. But his doctor recommended exercise and fresh air. ' And I'm thinking, sir,' he added, ' that you cannot do better than just take yourself down to St Andrews and put yourself under Tom Morris.' ' Is he a great Scotch physician? ' asked Bulger; ' I don't seem to have heard of him.' ' The Head of the Faculty, sir,' said the medical man ' the Head of the Faculty in those parts.'

"Bulger packed his effects, and in process of time he arrived at Leuchars. Here he observed some venerable towers within a short walk, and fancied that he would presently arrive at St Andrews. In this he was reckoning without the railway system he was compelled to wait at Leuchars for no inconsiderable time, which he occupied in extracting statistics about the consumption of whisky from the young lady who ministered to travellers. The revelations now communicated convinced Bulger that either Dr Morris was not on the lines of Sir Andrew Clark, or, as an alternative, that his counsels were not listened to by travellers on that line.

"Arriving in the dusk, Bulger went to his inn, and next morning inquired as to the address of the Head of the Faculty. ' I didna ken,`` said an elderly person to whom he appealed, 'that the professors had made' Tom a doctor, though it's a sair and sad oversicht, and a disgrace to the country, that they ha'ena done sae lang syne. But I jalouse that your doctor was jist making a gowk o' ye.' ' What! ' said Bulger. ' Jist playin' a plisky on ye, and he meant that Tom wad pit ye in the way o' becoming a player. Mon, ye 're a bull-neckit, bow-leggit chief, and ye'd shape fine for a gowfer! Here's Tom.' And, with this brief introduction, the old man strolled away.

'Bulger now found himself in the presence of Mr Morris, whose courtesy soon put him on a footing of friendliness and confidence. He purchased, by his mentor's advice, a driver, a cleek, a putter, a brassey, an iron, a niblick, and a mashie. Armed with thor implements, which were 'carried by an orphan boy,' and under the guidance of the Head of the Faculty himself, Bulger set forth on his first round. His first two strokes were dealt on the yielding air; his third carried no inconsiderable parcel of real property to some distance; but his fourth hit the ball and drove it across the road. ' As gude as a better`` quoth the orphan boy, and bade Bulger propel the tiny sphere in the direction of a neighbouring rivulet. Into this affluent of the main Bulger finally hit the ball; but an adroit lad of nine stamped it into the mud while pretending to look for it, and Bulger had to put down another. When he got within putting range he hit his ball, careering back and forward over the hole, and, ' Eh, man,' quoth the orphan boy, ' if you could only drive as you putt! '

"In some fifteen strokes he accomplished his task of holing out; and now, weary and desponding (for he had fancied golf to be an easy game), he would have desisted for the day. But the Head of the Faculty pressed on him the necessity of ' the daily round, the common task.' So his ball was teed, and he lammed it into the Scholar's Bunker, at a distance of nearly thirty yards. A niblick was now placed in his grasp, and he was exhorted to 'Take plenty sand.' Presently a kind of simoom was observed to rage in the Scholar's Bunker, out of which emerged the head of the niblick, the ball, and, finally, Bulger himself. His next hit, however, was a fine one, over the wall, where, as the ball was lost, Bulger deposited a new one. This he, somehow, drove within a few feet of the hole, when he at once conceived an intense enthusiasm for the pastime. ' It was a fine drive ' said the Head of the Faculty. ' Mr Blackwell never hit a finer.' Thus inflamed with ardour, Bulger persevered. He learned to waggle his club in a knowing way. He listened intently when he was bidden to ' keep his eye on the ba',' and to be ' slow up.' True he now missed the globe and all that it inhabits, but soon he hit a prodigious swipe, well over cover-point's head or, rather, in the direction where cover-point would have been. 'We're awfu' bad in the whims,' said the orphan boy; and, indeed, Bulger's next strokes were played in distressing circumstances. The spikes of the gorse ran into his person he could only see a small part of the ball, and, in a few minutes, he had made a useful clearing of about a quarter of an acre.

'It is unnecessary to follow his later achievements in detail. He returned a worn and weary man, having accomplished the round in about 180, but in possession of an appetite which astonished him and those with whom he lunched. In the afternoon, the luck of beginners attending him, he joined a foursome of professors, and triumphantly brought in his partner an easy victor. In a day or two he was drinking beer (which he would previously have rejected as poison), was sleeping like a top, and was laying down the law on stymie and other ' mysteries more than Eleusinian.' True, after the first three days, his play entirely deserted Bulger, and even professors gave him a wide berth in making up a match. But by steady perseverance, reading Sir Walter Simpson, taking out a professional, and practising his iron in an adjacent field, Bulger soon developed to such an extent that few third-rate players could give him a stroke a hole. He had been in considerable danger of ' a stroke ' of quite a different character before he left London and the delights of the Bar. But he returned to the capital in rude health, and may now often be seen and heard topping into the Pond at Wimbledon, and talking in a fine Fifeshire accent. It must be acknowledged that his story about his drive at the second hole, ' equal to Blackwell himself, Tom Morris himself told me as much,' has become rather a source of diversion to his intimates; but we have all our failings, and Bulger never dreams, when anyone says, ' What is the record drive? ' that he is being drawn for the entertainment of the sceptical and unfeeling. Bulger will never, indeed, be a player; but, if his handicap remains at 24, he may some day carry off the monthly medal. With this great aim before him, and the consequent purchase of a red coat and gilt buttons, Bulger has a new purpose in existence ' something to live for, something to do.' May this brief but accurate history convey a moral to the pessimist, and encourage those who take a more radiant view of the possibilities of life! "


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