Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Tom Morris Golf Shop Reopens in St Andrews

The oldest golf shop in the world reopened last Friday22nd of April at the birthplace of the game in St Andrews, Scotland and features a display of some original pieces of furniture which belonged to Tom Morris.

The Tom Morris Golf Shop was opened in St Andrews in 1866 by the four-time Open champion who is widely regarded as the father of the modern game. His ball and clubmaking business was originally founded in 1848.

Tom Morris Ltd was acquired last year by St Andrews Links Trust, which manages the seven public courses at the Home of Golf. The shop was closed over the winter for renovation and reopened yesterday with a completely new look and feel. It will stock apparel and merchandise bearing an updated Tom Morris crest from the 1880s and the sign on the front of the building will once again be styled with the name ‘T. Morris’ as it was in his time.

Several artefacts belonging to Morris himself were discovered during the renovation including his original workbench in the shop window where he made golf clubs and balls, the fireplace where he heated and shaped gutta percha balls and what is believed to be his locker where he stored his clubs.

These items form part of a display area in the shop celebrating the achievements of Morris as a golf champion, a pioneering greenkeeper and course architect, a club and ball maker, a family man and a businessman.

Morris was a hugely influential figure in the development of golf, The Open Championship and the Old Course and St Andrews Links in particular. Morris’ high profile series of money matches against Willie Park in the 1860s to 1880s brought the game, through national newspaper coverage, to a wider audience and helped to establish golf as a popular sport. He was employed by The Royal and Ancient as Keeper of the Green in St Andrews for nearly forty years and made many improvements to the Old Course. These included building the 1st and 18th greens, enlarging many to the famed double greens and clearing gorse which made the current anti-clockwise routing used today possible. He also laid out the New Course which opened in 1895. He was the first to begin applying sand to the Old Course which is now a technique accepted as commonplace among greenkeepers around the world. Morris was also involved in creating the original layouts of some of Britain’s most famous courses including Carnoustie, Prestwick, Muirfield and Royal North Devon (Westward Ho!).

His son Tommy became the youngest Open champion in 1868 at the age of 17, beating his father into second place, the only time this has happened in the 150-year history of the championship and a feat unlikely to be repeated. Tommy won The Open three consecutive times and then again in 1872. He died tragically at the age of 24.

Euan Loudon, chief executive of St Andrews Links Trust, said, “This is another chapter in the long and proud history of the Tom Morris name in St Andrews and his close association with the Old Course and St Andrews Links. When the previous owners approached us regarding the business we felt it was very important that Tom’s rich heritage was preserved and that ownership remained in St Andrews. That has been achieved and I think the new shop will be a fitting celebration of his remarkable career and achievements.”

Peter Crabtree, the co-author with David Malcolm of ‘Tom Morris of St Andrews, The Colossus of Golf, 1821-1908’, published in 2008, said, “There is no doubt that Tom Morris was the central figure in the greatest period of the development of golf in the mid to late 19th Century. His achievements as a golfer and as the man who shaped and transformed the Links of St Andrews were extraordinary. He was a skilled ball and clubmaker and developed a thriving business in his workshop overlooking the 18th green that he created. It is a testimony to the man that his business has survived to this day and will continue to prosper in years to come.”

Sheila Walker, a direct descendant of Tom Morris who still lives above the shop, added, “Our family has always been tremendously proud of Tom’s life and work. He dedicated himself to his family and to golf and his legacy is all around us here in St Andrews and, indeed, wherever golf is played. His workshop and business were extremely important to him and it is exciting to see some of his furniture being preserved and put on display in the shop. This will help to ensure that future generations continue to revere Tom Morris and his contribution to golf.”

A new website has been created about the Tom Morris Golf Shop at www.tommorris.com.

Monday, April 4, 2011

50,000 For Scottish open at Castle Stuart?

Organisers of a showpiece golf event are confident tens of thousands of fans will head to the Highlands to watch stars such as Padraig Harrington and Phil Mickelson.

They revealed last night that they were on course to sell up to 50,000 tickets for the Barclays Scottish Open, which is being held for the first time at Castle Stuart Golf Links, near Ardersier, in July.

Peter Adams, director of international championships for the European Tour, said he was “really pleased” with ticket sales after making a leap of faith in signing up to stage the event for three years on unknown turf in the north.

If the interest in sales continues, he and his team expect to be welcoming between 40,000 and 50,000 spectators over the course of the four-day tournament, which is being supported by the Press and Journal.

He said: “We are just so pleased with the response – there is such a sense of goodwill. The response has been tremendous and we are delighted and grateful.

“There was certainly an element of risk in bringing the tournament away from Loch Lomond, which has a denser population. The Highlands haven’t seen so many international sporting events and we were kind of watching to see what the response would be.

“I think the response from the community of Inverness and farther afield has lived up to all of our expectations and there is a sense of excitement.

“This is a Scottish event and so the majority of the audience is going to come from Scotland, but we are hoping we will attract spectators from abroad as well.”

Discounted early-bird tickets for the tournament, which will run from July 7 to 10, are available until April 10.

Adult open day tickets cost £25, or £15 for the over-60s. Prices will rise to £30 and £20 respectively for tickets purchased on the day. Tickets for the full tournament, including the practice and pro-am day, on July 6, can be purchased now for £55, increasing to £75 at the gate. The same tickets are available for over-60s for £35 or £60 on the gate. Tickets for the practice day only cost £6 now or £10 on the day.

Tourism chiefs are predicting a huge boost for the Highlands as an estimated 6,500 visiting golf fans seek accommodation at local hotels and B&Bs. Mr Adams said: “We are hoping, as the 2011 Masters tournament begins this week, that golf will be on people’s minds and we will get even more interest.

“If people want to come, it is well worth committing now if you can. It would also be a good idea for people to make their arrangements if they require accommodation.”

This year’s tournament has attracted players at the top of their game, including Scotland’s golf champions Martin Laird and Aberdonian Paul Lawrie.

The 2010 US Open champion, Graeme McDowell, and last year’s Scottish Open winner, Edoardo Molinari, are also due to take part.

Organisers have not ruled out the possibility of an appearance from arguably the best-known player in the world, Tiger Woods, who usually plays in Ireland during the week of the Scottish Open, in preparation for the British Open a week later.

Mr Adams said: “We would love it if he did come but we have not heard anything. I am not saying ‘No, he’s not coming’, but Tiger normally plays golf in Ireland during the week before the British Open and he could change his mind.”

Read more: http://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/Article.aspx/2208930?UserKey=#ixzz1IYOnjUzQ