Search just our sites by using our customised search engine

Unique Cottages | Electric Scotland's Classified Directory

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

The Life of Tom Morris
Chapter XIV - Young and Old Tom in match play

WE have seen how Young Tommy when merely a boy made his public debut as a golfer at Perth, and how, as a lad of only sixteen years of age, he first came to the front in the professional ranks at Carnoustie in 1867, where he played against and defeated all comers. Soon after this he beat Willie Park, and began a triumphant progress, which culminated in his winning the Champion Belt three times in succession at Prestwick. In his short but all-victorious career he made what the Rev. Robert Forgan, in the latest edition of his The Golfer's Manual (a most admirable book in every way) calls "the most brilliant display of golfing ever known, and ultimately constituted him, not only by the result, but by the performance, 'The Champion.'"

During these years of phenomenal success he lived with his father at St Andrews, and many a great match they played in partnership or as opponents. Often, too, they would be out on the links at the same time, playing in different matches with some of the members of the Royal and Ancient Club and their visitors, who were proud to enjoy alike their play, their talk, and their friendship. And at night father and son would talk over their matches. Their comradeship was delightful and charming. The father was proud of his son, and the son was full of affection and reverence for the father, though he could chaff him when he missed one of the short putts which would have been easy of negotiation to the lad. To chronicle their various matches would be an endless task, so I shall content myself with giving a selection of the matches they played at St Andrews in the summer of 1872, many of which I myself witnessed, or if I was not an actual spectator I was playing on the links from time to time during the summer.

On 4th July of that year Mr J. L. Small and Old Tom played Mr Alexander Bethune, of Blebo. Mr Small and Old Tom were successful in both rounds, in the first by j, and in the second by 5 holes; they also won both the short matches. On the same day Mr F. B. Elliot and Young Tom "vanquished" Captain now Sir Alex. Kinloch and Jamie Anderson in a round by 5 holes; the short match was halved.

On Monday, the 8th, Mr J. Whyte Melville and Young Tom beat Capt. Kinloch in 2 rounds, in the first by 6 and in the second by 1 hole. The short match in the first round tell to the "same parties."

On the 9th Captain Oswald, of Dunnikeir, and Tom Kidd had a round with Colonel Babington and Old Tom, which the former won by 1 hole.

On the 10th an excellent foursome was played between Sir Robert Hay, Bart., and Mr Gilbert Mitchell Innes against Mr F. B. Elliot and Young Tom. Two rounds were played and were well contested; the first round ended even, but Mr Elliot and Tommy gained the match in the second round but only by I hole.

On the 11th Mr Elliot and Old Tom beat Mr Charles Tennant, of the Glen, by 2 holes in a match of 1 round.

On the 13th a fine foursome was played by Mr John Blackwood and Old Tom with Mr Gilbert Mitchell Innes and Capt. Kinloch. The former couple lost the first round by 2, gained the second by one, and lost the third (a short match of 8 holes) by 1 hole.

On the 15th Mr F. B. Elliot and Tommy won 2 rounds from Mr Campbell, of Ormsary, and Davie Strath, the latter couple getting 3 strokes.

Next day Capt. Jackson lost 2 rounds to Old Tom.

On the 17th Capt. Jackson and Tommy played a foursome with Mr Mitchell Innes and Davie Strath. In the first round the latter were 3 up and in the second 5 up, making them victors by 8 holes.

On the 18th Capt. Kinloch and Old Tom gained 2 matches from Mr Blackwood and Tom Kidd. Capt. Jackson beat Mr Elliot and Tommy by 3 holes, and also beat with odds Tommy by 2 holes.

On the 20th a fine match was played by Capt. Kinloch and Davie Strath against Mr Gilbert Innes and Old Tom. Three rounds were played. The first went to the former couple by 5 and 4 to play, their opponents winning the bye. Mr Innes and Tom won the second round by 3, but lost the third by the same number. Capt. Kinloch and Davie were therefore victors on the day's play. On the 22nd Mr Charles Tennant, of the Glen, lost 2 rounds to Old Tom. On the 23rd Mr D. B. Wauchope and Jamie Anderson played Mr John Blackwood and Old Tom, winning the first round by 2 holes, the second by 6, and a short match of 8 holes.

On the 24th an interesting match was played, of which I give The Field's report. It is interesting on account of the players and as showing the style of reporting over thirty years ago, as well as the attention which was then being given to big matches. It is headed:-


A splendid professional foursome, which excited much interest, was played on Wednesday over the St Andrews links between the Morrises, senior and junior, v. Davit-Strath and Tom Kidd, the latter a young professional of much promise. The betting on the match was considerable, the result being very doubtful. Last week 5 to 4 were offered in favour of the Morrises, but before the game commenced the betting was even. The day was dull and cloudy, but on the whole the weather was favourable for the game, as the players were not oppressed by the sultry heat which has prevailed for some time. The condition of the turf was excellent, but in some places the green was rather heavy with rank grass. Old Tom led off at half-past eleven with a line tee shot, in presence of a large company of spectators, who afterwards accompanied the competitors round the course. In going out the first hole was halved, the second fell to the Toms; Strath and Kidd ran away with the next three holes, thus making them two up. In playing the sixth hole, Old Tom played a splendid shot, and laid his ball on the table within a foot of the hole, which they thus won. They also gained the seventh hole, and the eighth and ninth were halved. At the turn all was thus square. Coming in, Strath and Kidd won the first hole, the second was halved; the Morrises won the third and fourth, making all square. In playing the fifth hole Tom landed his ball hard up in the bunker which fronts the hole, and Tommy and his father failing to put it out with two strokes, they gave the hole up, and it was agreed to count seven as their score. The sixth hole fell to the Morrises. In playing the seventh hole Kidd's ball went off the course, and lay in a hollow, but Strath, with a splendid cleek shot, laid it on the putting-green, and the hole was halved. The eighth and ninth fell to Strath and Kidd, who were thus one up on the first round. The following were the scores: -


Out.  5 6 5 6 7 3 4 3 5 - 44
In.    5 3  4 4 7 5 4 7 5 - 44
Total 88

In Match Play

Strath and Kidd

Out.  5 7 4 5 6 4 5 3 5 - 44
In.    4 3 5 6 5 6 4 5 4 - 42
Total 86

In playing the second round Old Tom and Strath played oft. At the burn hole Kidd holed a Iong put, and the hole fell to him and his partner. He wvas fortunate in the second also, for he played a dead stimy, and Young Tom in putting holed Kidd's ball. The third hole tell to the Morrison, Young Tom holing a beautiful put. Strath and Kidd gained the fourth; the fifth was halved. In playing the sixth hole Kidd drove into a bunker; but as their opponents were also unfortunate, the hole was halved, each taking six stroke--. The Morrises won the seventh, their opponents the eighth, and the Morrises the ninth. Strath and Kidd were thus one up on the second round two on the whole match. Coming home, the tirst hole was halved; Strath and Kidd won the second. In playing the third hole both balls lay badly, but both were played out well, and the hole was ultimately won by the Morrises. Strath and Kidd won the fourth, the Morrises gained the fifth and sixth, reducing Strath and his partner's lead to one up, or square on the second round. The seventh hole was gained by Strath and Kidd. who were now dormy two up and two to play. The next hole the Morrises were bunkered and lost the hole, deciding the match in favour ol Strath and Kidd bv three up and one to play. They also won the last hole, making them lour up on the two rounds. The scores were:


Out.  5 6 4 5 5 6 4 5 4 - 44
In.    4 4 5 6 6 5 5 6 6 = 47
Total. 91

Tom Morris

Out.  4 5 5 4 5 6 5 3 5 - 42
In.    4 3 6 4 7 6 4 5 5 - 44
Total. 86

The players on both sides were in excellent fettle, and drove splendidly; but Kidd far exceeded his opponent in driving, his long swipes being much admired. The Morrises were rather unfortunate in their putting; but on the whole the play on both sides was capital, considering the grassy condition of the green.

In the early part of August of this year (1872) some interesting matches were played. Mr Gilbert Innes and Major Bethune played Mr John Blackwood and Old Tom 2 rounds. The first round ended square, but the latter couple won the match in the second round by 3 and 2 to play. Mr Elliot and Mr K. Chambers of Edinburgh beat Mr Herman Ree and Tommy in 2 rounds by 2 and 1 to play in the first, and 3 and 2 to play in the second. Mr Gilbert Mitchell Innes and Major Bethune again played Mr John Blackwood and Tom Morris. The game consisted of 3 rounds. In the iirst round Mr Blackwood and Tom Morris were 3 up and 2 to play, and by the same number won in the afternoon. The third round, however, fell to Mr Innes and Major Bethune by i hole. The match was again played the following week, and again Mr Blackwood and Tom had the best of it. A capital foursome, Mr Dempster of Dunnichen and Old Tom v. Mr F. R. Elliot and David Strath. In the first round the latter won by 4 and 3 to play and also gained the bye. Mr Dempster and Tom, however, gained the second by 2 and 1 to play and halved the bye.

Professor Tait and Mr Inglis beat the Right Hon. John Inglis (Lord Justice General) and J. O. F. Morris by 2 and 1 to play, but lost by the same number in the afternoon. Mr Gilbert Innes and Tom again tackled Jamie Anderson and Tom Kidd, betting 3 to 2 in favour of the professionals, who were 4 up in the first round. They also won in the afternoon by 4 and 2 to play. Davie Strath beat Old Tom in a single bye and 5 to play; and the short match by 1. Strath, 81; Tom, 91. On the 16th Tom and Mr Gilbert lnnes played Capt. Kinloch and Davie Strath. The weather was wet and stormy. The betting was in favour of the former couple. Two matches were played, the first consisting of 2 rounds and the second of 1. The first round ended in favour of Tom and Mr limes, and the second in favour of their opponents by 1. Mr Innes and Tom were thus winners of the match. The scores were:---

The play was capital and the scores good, considering the stormy nature of the day. In the afternoon the second match (1 round) was played, when Mr Innes and Tom again won by 3 and 2 to play, and also won the bye.

The same day Sir Robert Anstruther, Hart., M.P., and Young Tom played a fine foursome of 3 rounds with Mr Whigham and Mr Robert Clarke, and won all the 3 rounds.

Tom and Mr F. B. Elliot beat Sir Robert Anstruther and Mr Robert Clark on the 23rd, and subsequently several more rounds were played between Capt. Kinloch and Davie Strath against Mr Mitchell Innes and Old Tom. As the latter weie considered more than a match for the Captain and Davie, it was arranged that Strath should play all the tee shots. Tom and his partner won the first round by 2 (92 and 95), but lost the second (89 and 87) and the match by 1. In the second match and third round Mr Innes and Tom won by 3 at the burn. Capt. Kinloch and Davie won the return match.

Mr Gilbert Innes and Davie Strath played Tommy and Jamie Anderson and lost the match by 1 hole 89 and 90, 93 and 91.

On 29th August Mr John Blackwood and Young Tommy beat Capt. Kinloch and Mr Mitchell Innes by 4 holes in 2 rounds. Mr George Glennie and Jamie Anderson were worsted in a match of 2 rounds by Mr Hugh Alexander and Old Tom by 4 and by 1. Mr Blackwood and Tommy beat Mr F. B. Elliot and Davit 1 Strath by 3 and 2 to play, I round. Mr F. B. Elliot and Jamie Anderson won a first round by 1 from Mr Blackwood and Young Tommy, but lost a second by 4 and 2 to play. Capt. Kinloch and Old Tom lost 2 rounds by 1 to Major Bethune and Jamie Anderson.

Early in September of this year Tom and Jamie Anderson played a match of 36 holes over the St Andrews links. Though rain fell heavily during the day it was followed by a large concourse of spectators. In the first round Tom took the first 3 holes and won also the fifth and eighth. Jamie got the fourth and the rest were halved, and so were the first, second and last holes coming in. Tom won the third and fifth, and the fourth and last three fell to Jamie, leaving him, however, 2 down on the first round. Old Tom's score was 42 and 48 - 90; Jamie's, 46 and 46 - 92.

In the afternoon Tom took every hole going out with the exception of the first, second and sixth, which were halved. At the turn he was, therefore, 8 up and 9 to play. The next 2 holes were halved, so Tom won at the Eden with 8 up and 7 to play. Jamie won the short match by a hole. The scores were: Tom, 42 and 45 - 87; Jamie, 49 and 44 - 93.

Mr John Blackwood and Young Tommy played Mr F. B. Elliot and Davie Strath. The latter couple won both rounds by 1 hole each.

In this year father and son were at Hoylake and played a match of 36 holes against Tom Dunn and Bob Kirk, representing England v. Scotland, though, of course, all four players were Scots. But Tom Dunn and Bob Kirk were at that time professionals on English greens. Old Tom and Tommy were 6 up in the first round, but gained nothing in the second and won by 6 and 5 to play. "The weather," Tom Dunn tells us, "was horrible, the ground being completely charged with several days' rain."

Return to Book Index Page


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus