I was lucky enough to be a member of the New Club in St. Andrews for a few years while I worked in Edinburgh in the 1990s. The club and the town hold fantastic memories for me, and I considered my time playing there to be a privilege. Just by being in St. Andrews you get a sense of history. Golf is in the blood; it is part of the fabric of the town.
The game that is now played all around the world really stemmed from here, and we have Tom Morris to thank for that. He didn’t invent the game, but you would be hard pressed to find an individual who made such an impact. So I feel like I have a link to the town and the man, who spent a lot of his later life in the New Club.
Not an easy job!
Imagine working a 12-hour day, including some heavy laboring, digging out gorse, humping sand from the beach, mowing the greens, repairing clubs, making golf balls, giving lessons and then acting as starter for some foursome matches and allocating caddies. Sounds like a busy day, right?
But then imagine playing three rounds of golf the very next day (12-hole rounds) to win The Open. Well that’s what Tom Morris did in the 1864, beating 15 other competitors at Prestwick in the fifth British Open. The prize then was £6, a good return when you considered the average annual wage was just twice that.
But you can bet Old Tom was back at work the next day. In fact, that seemed like the norm for the average club professional back then. There was little glamour and a lot of hard work.