Did you know that “Old Tom Morris” was a Pioneer of Professional Golf? – Part 2…cont’d..

Did you know that “Old Tom Morris” was a Pioneer of Professional Golf? – Part 2…cont’d..


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Golf course design, greenkeeping innovations

Morris played a role in designing courses across the British Isles. He began by assisting Robertson lay out ten holes at Carnoustie in 1842. His subsequent work included Kinghorn Golf Club in 1887, Prestwick, Muirfield, Machrihanish, the Jubilee Course at St Andrews, Balcomie at Crail, Moray, Askernish in South Uist, Lahinch and Rosapenna in Ireland, Warkworth and Royal North Devon Golf Club (Westward Ho!) in England, King Edward Bay Golf Club in the Isle of Man and the Castletown Golf Club in the Isle of Man.

In 1886, Tom Morris went to Dornoch in the Highlands and met a boy called Donald Ross who was the Club’s junior champion. Donald helped Tom there and five years later he joined the “Grand Old Man” at St Andrews. They built a new course simply called the New Course. Donald returned to Dornoch for a short stint as the club’s greenkeeper before moving to America in 1899.

Royal North Devon - Donald Ross

Over the next half century, imbued with the expertise and experience of Tom Morris, he would design Pinehurst, Seminole, Oak Hill, Oakland Hills and more than 500 other courses that made Donald Ross the most important golf- architect of all. Of course the influence of Tom Morris on Donald Ross would make him a crucial figure in the game’s evolution. Another of Tom’s disciples was Charles Blair Macdonald who built the first 18 hole course at the Chicago Golf Club and Tom influenced even more disciples who designed the Royal Melbourne in Australia……

Tom Morris’ chief contribution to the game have been in course design, a multibillion dollar business that grew from the barrow, spade and shovel he used at Prestwick and St. Andrews.

Royal North Devon Golf Club – 150 Years Anniversary 


Royal North Devon Golf Club was founded in 1864, and is the oldest golf course in England. The course was designed by Old Tom Morris. Royal North Devon Golf Club is located on Northam Burrows between Northam and Westward Ho! in North Devon. Traditionally the course has been referred to as Westward Ho! Northam Burrows is common land and golfers share the environment with sheep, ponies and walkers.[

The Club provides facilities for one of the largest Junior Sections in the country.

The course has hosted The Amateur Championship on three occasions, in 1912, 1925, and 1931.One of the Great Triumvirate, J.H. Taylor, learned his golf at Royal North Devon Golf Club and was invested Honorary President of the Club in 1957.

In the autumn of 1895, Tom played his last Open and came in seventy shots behind the winner J.H. Taylor of Westward Ho! With that Tom bowed out of the tournament he helped to create.

Royal North Devon - Old Tom playing Old Course

Morris was also the father of modern greenkeeping.

  • He introduced the concept of top-dressing greens with sand, which significantly helped turf growth.
  • He introduced many novel ideas on turf and course management, including actively managing hazards (in the past, bunkers and the like were largely left to their own devices, becoming truly “hazardous”) and yardage markers.
  • He was the first to use a push mower to cut greens.
  • He improved St Andrews by widening fairways to handle increased play, enlarging greens, and establishing separate tee boxes on each hole; all of these measures spread out play over larger areas, and led to better turf conditions.
  • In course design, he standardized the golf course length at 18 holes (St Andrews had at one time been 22 holes), and introduced the concept of each nine holes returning to the club house.
  • He also introduced the modern idea of placing hazards so that the golf ball could be routed around them; this was the beginning of strategic design, which has dominated golf course design ever since. Before his times hazards were thought of as obstacles that either had to be carried or were there to punish a wayward ball.

Morris kept working right up until his death, just before his 87th birthday.   He died after falling down a flight of stairs in the clubhouse of the New Golf Club in St Andrews. He is buried in the grounds of the St Andrews Cathedral, and his grave attracts thousands of golfers who wish to pay homage.

Old Tom Morris died in the year 1908 aged 86. He died as a result of sustaining a fractured skull after falling down the stairs in The New Club, St Andrews.

Tom had gained so much respect, that his funeral was attended by hundreds of people who knew, loved and admired him. The funeral procession itself spanned the length of South Street in St Andrews.

He was a true pioneer in the world of golf and had lived through the major transitions of the game, from the feather ball; the first Opens; the popularisation of the game; the introduction of inland courses; and the establishment of The Championships – both Amateur and Professional.


To this day, the memory of Old Tom Morris is commemorated at the Royal and Ancient Golf Club in St Andrews. His portrait hangs in the Clubhouse and the final hole on the Old Course bears his name.

Royal North Devon - David Joy playing Old Tom

David Joy is well known as ‘the man who plays Old Tom Morris’ and, he can be seen doing that in one of his excellent Videos

To be continued in Part 3 –  “Young Tom Morris”  and “Old Tom Morris” – Golf Legends

Motivated by the Inspiration of Others and the Love of Music.

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TAGS: Helping to make a difference in your lives, Motivated by the Inspiration of Others and the Love of Music, Old Tom Morris, Allan Robertson, Royal North Devon Golf Club, Young Tom Morris, Donald Ross, Charles Blair Macdonald,  J.H. Taylor,  Golf course design, greenkeeping innovations, modern greenkeeping, David Joy

Main Source of Reference –  Wikipedia for which many thanks.

Content Disclaimer: The information contained in this website is for general information purposes only. This does not relate to specific individuals but is drawn from the writer’s knowledge gained from the internet, newspapers and the media in general.The information is provided by John Barton who endeavours to keep the information up to date and correct, Any reliance you place on this information is therefore strictly at your own risk.


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One Response to Did you know that “Old Tom Morris” was a Pioneer of Professional Golf? – Part 2…cont’d..

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