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The Life of Tom Morris
Chapter X - Institution of Tournaments, the Open Championship and rise of young Tommy

A GREAT incentive to professional golf, and to golf in general, was given by the institution of the Open Championship in 1860 four years before Tom left Prestwick.

To Prestwick belongs the credit of instituting the Open Championship, and no doubt Tom Morris and his friends had a good deal to do with its inception and popularity. It commenced in 1860, and for eleven years it was played for over the links at Prestwick. The Champion Belt was the first of its trophies. It was to be held for a year by its winner, and was to become the absolute property of anyone who won it three successive years. Willie Park, of Musselburgh, won it in the vear of its institution thus defeating Tom on what then were his own links. His score was 174. In the two following years Tom won it with the consistent scores of 163. Golfers of those days asked themselves: "Would he: win it again in 1863?"

No; Willie Park once more came to the front and won it with 168 strokes. Tom was, however, again successful in 1864, with 167. Then a new name appears with the best score at which it had yet been won. The winner was Andrew Strath, of St Andrews; his score, 162. Next year it again became Tom's, with 160. In 1867 his successful rival was his own son, Tommy, who won with by far the best recorded score, 154. Next year he won it with 157, and in 1870 he did what his father had never been able to achieve. He won the Belt for the third time in succession, and by the rules of the play it became his property. His score was 149. Many a time have I seen the coveted belt taken out of its case and handled with great reverence by his father. Six years before this, in 1864, Tommy had made his debut in Perth. My friend, Mr Peter Baxter, in his most admirable book, Golf in Perth and Perthshire, which every golf-book collector should have in his possession, writes: "The Perth tournament of 1864 will ever be kept in remembrance as the first occasion on which the Admirable Crichton of golf, young Tom Morris, engaged in a public combat. As is well known, young Tom had journeyed to Perth with the view of playing as an amateur. Denied in this, and conscious of his inability to play on equal terms with the professionals present, the chances were all against his striking a ball on the Perth green. Happily, one or two of the Perth golfers found a way out of the difficulty, and the incident has since become historical. At that time, and for many years before and alter, Dr Thomas Miller, a distinguished St Andrews mathematician, was Rector of Perth Academy (I may interject here that he was the father of the Rev. T. D. Miller, of Kirkurd, well known as a golfer and as a writer on golf), and it was his custom for many years to offer a medal for competition among the boys attending the senior classes of the Academy. One of the boys, Willie Greig, had been showing such good golf that season that the school were unanimous that he would carry off the Rector's medal. The victory was a popular one, and Willie Greig was the hero of the Academy in the term during which the first Perth tournament took place. The late Joe Smith had the leading part in getting up the unique match between the boys, Willie Greig and Tommy Morris, who at that time would be each about thirteen years of age."

The year was 1864: the first year in which the green on the famous North Inch of Perth was arranged as a 12-hole course a distance of about 2 miles.

The month was April the year at the spring when young Tommy, in the spring of his life, which was never to see full summer or happy autumn days, went forth to play Willie Greig. It had been a big week of golfing in Perth, fur it was the occasion of the first golf tournament ever held in Perth. The first recorded tournament had taken place in St Andrews in 1857, when, in response to an invitation from the Royal and Ancient Club,

[Since writing the above, I find, in consulting that very fine volume, Chronicles of Blackheath Golfers, with illustrations and portraits, edited by W. E. Hughes, late Hon. Secretary of the Blackheath Golf Club (London: Chapman & Hall, Limited, 1897), that the original idea of the tournament issued from Prestwick. On 6th April 1857, Mr John Cuthbert,the Secretary of the Prestwick Golf Club, wrote to the secretaries of eight clubs, proposing the tournament, and naming St Andrews or Prestwick as alternative links. If the club agreed to play, the secretary was to name "which of the two links you prefer, as the majority will decide."

In regard to the institution of tournaments, Mr W. Dalrymple writes me: "So long ago as ijth April 1855, the project of initiating some Grand National Golfing Club (after the curling model, possibly) had been in the air; and on that date Mr John Dun best known to English golfers as of Warrington, and Manager of Parr's Bank intimated a formal motion, advocating some such scheme, at a meeting of the Innerleven Golf Club, with Rintoul of Lahill, then Captain, in the chair; and was requested to correspond with other clubs on the matter and report to the autumn meeting. He did report as desired; and the Captain Wemyss of Wemyss Castle offered to lay the proposal before the St Andrews Club, with a view to carry out the scheme. On this question Innerleven minute books are silent until I5th April 1857, when a general meeting assembled to consider a proposal by the Prestwick Club, to institute a match between the following clubs, to come off on St Andrews links, viz.: St Andrews, Perth, Blackheath, Musselburgh, Prestwick, Carnoustie, North Berwick and Innerleven."]

two representatives of each of the leading golfing societies appeared to compete for it. Thirteen Clubs accepted the invitation, but the representatives of the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers and of the Carnoustie Panmure failed to put in an appearance. Blackheath won this tournament, having defeated the Royal and Ancient Club, St Andrews, by 7 holes, becoming, as its minute of 24th April 1858 proudly puts it, "the champion Golf Club of the world." The same minute records the election to life membership of Mr Glennie and Captain Stewart, who won the trophy for the Club. The prize was a claret jug. It is engraved with two golfing subjects, and bears the following inscription: "Won by George Glennie and Lieutenant J. C. Stewart, members of the Royal Blackheath Golf Club, at the First Golf Tournament, held at St Andrews, Fife, in the year 1857. Twenty-two competitors."

Mr George Glennie

Mr George Glennie is well known to all golfers. Captain Stewart was one of the last of the Stewarts to hold land in Appin. His regiment was the 72nd Highlanders. He died not long ago. It was after being ordered to India that Old Sutherland made moan, "It is a shame of a man with such golfing powers to go out to India." Old Tom has said that he never knew a harder striker than Captain Stewart of Fasnacloich or George Condie.

Another tournament was held the following year (1858), in which the conditions were changed from Clubs to individual players.

The third great tournament at St Andrews (1859) was won by Mr George Condie, Perth, who defeated Sir Robert Hay by holes.

These tournaments no doubt paved the way for the Perth event of 1864. The credit for its initiation and success was due very much to the late Mr Hay Robertson and Mr Horace Skeete. On the committee were also Major Chalmers, happily still alive, and Mr J. Watson Lyall, who was then Editor of the Perthshire Constitutional.

The competition on Tuesday, the 12th April 1864, was for professionals. The game was 3 rounds of 12 holes each, for prizes of 10, 5 and 3. As this tournament is not recorded in full, or at all, in any of the several golf books to which I have at present access, the scores of the leading professionals and amateurs may be interesting to many. Morris, Prestwick, 168; W. Park, Musselburgh, 168; Andrews, Perth, 170; D. Park, Musselburgh, 170; Brown, St Andrews, 175; A. Strath, St Andrews, 177; Major Boothby, Perth, 179; Mr Marshall, Lcven, 184; Mr Alex. Laurie, Perth, 184; Mr C. Hunter, Prestwick, 184; Mr W. Stewart, Perth, 186; W. Strath, St Andrews, 187; X. M'Pherson ("The Herd Laddie"), 190; Sgt.-Major Chalmers, Perth, 190; Mr N. M'Gregor, Perth, 190; Mr N. Carse, North Berwick, 190.

Mr Peter Baxter, in his excellent chronicle of the tournament in his Golf in Perth and Perthshire, says: "Morris and Park were exceptionally steady in their play, considering they were on a strange green." Tom was 57, 57, 54; Willie 55, 56, 57.

"At the end of the second round Brown was fancied to win, but in the third round he went completely off his play." This was G. D. Brown, a tall, handsome Englishman who, in the years of my youth, was a professional at St Andrews, where he had a golf-club and ball shop. His scores on this occasion were 54, 53 and 68. "Andrews played, upon the whole, his ordinary fine game, his 58's in the second and third rounds being caused by misfortunes at a single hole (the mid-bunker to 'Peninsula') in each case." His first round was 54. This was "The Rook" the "local hero who, for a week or two previous to the tournament, had been doing the round daily at a stroke or two above 50." Davie Park of Musselburgh outdistances everybody in his third round with a splendid 51 the best round in the whole tournament.

Next day, immediately on the conclusion of the gentlemen's competition, which was won by Major Boothby with 177, the professionals started to play off the ties of the previous day the conditions being 24 holes, or 2 rounds. Tom Morris did these in 53 and 57, to Willie Park's 57 and 67, while Bob Andrews beat Davie Park by no less than twelve strokes, returning two 53's to Park's 60 and 58. He was the hero of the ties, being 106 to Tom's 110, Davie Park's 118, and Willie Park's 124. The four first on the list were therefore Tom Morris, winner, Willie Park, Bob Andrews and Davie Park.

An excellent and exciting match was decided on the Thursday, Major Boothby and Tom Morris playing against Mr George Condie and Bob Andrews. The St Andrews players won by i hole. On the same day Willie Park bent Andrew Strath by 3 holes; and Davie Park won a 5 prize for the unsuccessful professionals, beating Andrew Strath by 2 strokes. In this event, Dow of Musselburgh was third, and Mr Baxter tells us that "The Musselburgh Dow was not at all pleased by his poor appearances, and issued a challenge to Davie Park to play i round. Park promptly accepted, and Dow had the satisfaction of winning by 1 hole. Perhaps the most important of the after professional contests was that in which Tom Morris and Willie Park, the first and second men in the tournament, opposed Bob Andrews and Andrew Strath. Andrews' knowledge of the green was supposed to balance the superiority of Morris and Park. Great interest was manifested in the foursome, and a large crowd followed the players from start to finish. Loud cheers were raised when the last putt gave the verdict to Andrews and Strath by 1 hole."

And now we come to the match between young Tommy and Willie Greig, for which 5 was the prize. This is how it is chronicled in a contemporary report:

"Perhaps the most interesting match of the day was between Master Morris, son of the redoubtable 'Tom,' and Master William Greig, of, as it seems, Perth juvenile golfing celebrity. They are really wonderful players for their years, both of them. We had no idea that very 'young' Perth could produce so proficient a golfer as Master Greig. He played with astounding neatness and precision, but the honours of the day were in store for his competitor. He has been cast in the very mould of a golfer, and plays with all the steadiness and certainty in embryo of his father. The juvenile competition was extremely interesting, and although the young Prestwicker gained the day, Perth has the very opposite of any reason to be ashamed of her youthful champion. It was very funny to see the boys followed by hundreds of deeply-interested and anxious spectators."

The match took place on Thursday, the I4th April 1864.

On Friday the weather was bad when Andrew Strath and Davie Park had 3 rounds, the former winning by 5 holes. Mr Alex. Imrie and Willie Park played Mr Johnstone and Tom Morris and gained the victory by 1 hole.

On the Saturday, in beautifully fine weather, the King James VI. dub of Perth tried conclusions with the St Nicholas Club of Ayr.

The players numbered ten a-side, and 2 rounds of the green were played. The King James VI. Club had a big victory, "as great," says Mr Baxter, "as it was unexpected, for at that time 'ye linkes att Air' were to the south what St Andrews was to the north." The Ayr St Nicholas got only 2 holes, Mr Knight beating Mr W. Stewart by 1, and Mr C. Hunter (our friend Charlie) beating Captain Pratt, R.K., by 1.

The Perth Club won 38 holes and thus gained the match by 36.

On the same day a great match was played between Bob Andrews and Dow of Musselburgh. The game was played under the tournament rules 3 rounds of the links. At the end of the second round Andrews was 4 up, but in the third round Dow came away with a great game, drew level, and eventually won the match by 2 holes. Perth people were naturally disappointed with this result, and pointed out that Andrews may have been fatigued with a match he had played in the morning of the same day. Another match was arranged for a purse of sovereigns. It took place on the Monday. Andrews early took the lead, and, refreshed with his "Sawbath's" rest, did the round in 49. He retained his advantage in the second round. Dow again played well up in the third round, but eventually had to own defeat by 6 holes and 5 to play.

Perth was badly bitten by the tournament fever, and another was arranged two years later for 1866. All the old professionals were again present, with the addition of young Tommy, who would then be a lad of fifteen years of age. The largest concourse of spectators turned out to witness the match between old Tom and Bob Andrews, who had been drawn together. At the Pond hole both he and Andrews were on the green in 3. Tom played the odd and lay within three inches of the hole. Andrews ran down a good putt. Tom knocked away his ball with his putter to the teeing-ground close by, forgetting that it was a stroke, not a hole, match. His attention was, of course, drawn to what he had done. Andrews offered to allow Tom to replace his ball, but Tom was too honourable not to see he had disqualified himself. The scoring of many of the players was low during the first round. Andrew Strath was round in 50, followed by a young and powerful amateur, and Bob Andrews in 51. The amateur was one whom all golfers now know as Dr J. G. MTherson. Eventually the tournament was won by "The Rook" Bob Andrews, Perth, 159; Andrew Strath, Prestwick, 161; Willie Dow, Musselburgh, 161; Bob Kirk, St Andrews, 166; Mr J. G. MTherson, St Andrews, 166; Watt M'Donald, Perth, 168; Tom Morris, St Andrews, 171; Major Boothby, Perth, 173; Mr W. Dolman, Glasgow, 174; Tom Morris, jun., St Andrews, 177. On playing off the tie for the second place, Dow won with 54 for 12 holes, against Strath's 56.

Players at St Andrews in the sixties

Next day the amateurs' competition was held. The first three were: Sergt.-Major Chalmers, Perth, 170; J. G. MTherson, St Andrews, 172; William Stewart, Perth, 175. Had M'Pherson played as well as he did the day previous, he would have been an easy winner. In the afternoon, Major Boothby and Tom played George Condie and Bub Andrews, and the latter couple won by the large margin of 11 holes. There was a supper in the Royal George in the evening mine host, Mr John Kennedy, a keen "sport," as I remember well. Golf was the talk of the night. Old Tom let it be known that he and a partner he had in his eye would play any two present.

Willie Park replied that he would take young M'Pherson and play Tom and his choice. But Matherson was the amateur player Tom had chosen. Willie Park then chose Bob Andrews, and the match took place on the following day.

The play on both sides was good. Tom and young M'Pherson were 1 hole up and 2 to play. The next hole was halved, so they were now dormy 1. Tom's account, says Mr Peter Baxter, of what followed is, that when the last green was reached they were about to play 1 off 2. The green was hard-baked, and his first putt was neither good nor bad. His partner tried to hole, and ran three or four yards past down a grassless slope. Tom missed! The hole was lost, and the match not won. Gordon M'Pherson held that Tom was at fault in running the ball past and above the hole, in playing 1 on 2. For yards round the hole the grass had gone, and a glaze was over all. The only chance of holing down the slope was to bolt it. The half of the match was secure. Accordingly M'Pherson tried to bolt the ball, but, jumping over the centre of the hole, missed. Of coursr old Tom was out of holing distance. Each was of opinion that the other did wrong, and it is very unlikely that they will change their opinions after all these years. However, the incident may serve to keep the visit of 1866 to the North Inch of Perth fresh in both memories, and we trust that the day is yet far distant when the golden chord may be snapped.

Another match Tom played on this occasion was with Bob Kirk against Andrews and Strath, who won by 6 up and 4 to play. A month later a return match was played at St Andrews, when Tom and Kirk won by a putt at the last hole.

In ending his accounts of these tournaments, Mr Peter Baxter says: "In having a couple of tournaments within two years, the Perth golfers thought they had done well, and might rest on their oars lor a year or two. Unfortunately, they have rested ever since."

Why should this be? Will Perth not distinguish itself some season in arranging another tournament and bringing together the best professional golfers in the country, on some occasion when they may be up in Scotland for some other event?

It will be noticed that I give the name of the well-known Perth professional as Bob Andrews. "The Rook" always wrote his name with the final s. His family was of Fife extraction; originally the name was Andrew. But the branch that came to Perth were called Andrews, or adopted that form of the name. The name is given in the Badminton Golf and elsewhere as Andrew.

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