names to remember

There are various names which come up again and again in the history of Scottish golf. Here are some you might come across :

old tom morris

'Old' Tom Morris was born in St Andrews in 1821 and died in 1908 aged 86.  He began his golfing career making golf balls, but grew to be an accomplished golfing professional, course designer and golf club maker and moved to Prestwick in 1851 where he was employed as a greenkeeper at Prestwick Golf Club and where he created the first purpose built golf course on the links of Monkton parish.

In 1860, the first Open Championship was held at Prestwick and was contested by eight leading professionals. The first winner was Willie Park. The Open continued to be held at Prestwick for 11 years and Old Tom had won the event four times by 1867.

Tom eventually moved back to St Andrews where he established a clubmaking business by the side of the 18th green at St Andrews Old Course.

He competed in every Open Championship from 1860 to 1896 and won the competition four times, in 1861, 1862, 1864, and 1867.

He  was famed for his golf course designs and was responsible for the design and alteration of many of Britain's famous courses including  Carnoustie, Muirfield, Prestwick, Royal Dornoch, Nairn and Machrihanish Golf Club.  From 1884 - 1908 he was the Keeper of the Green at St Andrews. If you are in St Andrews you can see the house he lived in from 1866 until his death in 1908 at Six Pilmour Place.

Young Tom Morris

Young Tom Morris was born in St Andrews in 1851 and raised on the links of Prestwick Golf Club. He made a good living from playing golf and is seen as the first true modern professional golfer. He had a set of iron clubs made and began to use them throughout the game for driving, lofting, jiggering and putting, which was revolutionary at the time.  Young Tom won the Open four times in 1868 (aged 17), '69, '70 and 72. He is still the youngest major champion in history.

Sadly, he is said to have died of a broken heart at the age of 24, 3 months after his young wife had died.

His grave and memorial can be visited in St Andrews Cathedral grounds. Here is a video someone has taken of the inscription.

The Parks

Another famous scottish golfing family were the Parks from Musselburgh, Willie Park won the first Open Championship and between him, his brother Mungo and his son Willie Jr, they won the Open seven times between them.

The Great Triumvirate

James Braid, Harry Vardon and Henry Taylor were known as the Great Triumvirate of Scottish Golf. The trio combined to win The Open Championship 16 times in the 21 tournaments held between 1894 and 1914. Vardon won the Open six times while Braid and Taylor each winning five.

James Braid

James Braid (1870- 1950), was born in Earlsferry in Fife and won the Open five times. He was a Scottish professional golfer and is is also famous for designing or rebuilding more than 250 Scottish golf courses, including Carnoustie, the King's Course at Gleneagles and Blairgowrie's Rosemount Course (the latter also had design influences from Alister Mackenzie - see below).  He used his farming background to make sure that the courses were well drained.

Alister Mackenzie

Alexander (he used the gaelic form Alister) Mackenzie (1870-1934) was born near Leeds to Scottish Parents. They maintained the Scottish connection by holidaying in Scotland each year. Mackenzie trained as a surgeon and worked in camouflage design during World War 1. He enjoyed playing golf although was never a professional golfer. He got involved with golf course design using skills he had learnt as a camofleur to blend the features he created on golf courses with the nature around. He worked in partnership some of the time with Harry Colt and Charles Alison. He designed bunkers to suit the new design of golf balls, undulating greens and sculpted sides to fairways. His philosophy of golf course design was that : “A really great golf course must be a constant source of pleasure to the greatest possible number of players. It must require strategy in the playing as well as skill. It must give the average player a fair chance and at the same time, it must require the utmost from the expert. All natural beauty should be preserved, natural hazards should be utilized and artificiality should be minimized.”

In the late 1920s he moved permanently to the United States, where he carried out some of his most notable work designing some well known courses in the USA and abroad. In the early days he worked with his early partners Colt and Alison but working with the golfer Bobby Jones he designed Augusta National Golf Club and was also involved in the design of the Cypress Point Club, Royal Melbourne Golf Club (Melbourne, Australia) and numerous others. He died in Santa Cruz, California in January 1934, just two months before the inaugural Masters Tournament (then known as the Augusta National Invitational Tournament). He had written an unpublished manuscript on golf and golf course design, which was discovered after his death and which was posthumously published as The Spirit of St. Andrews (MacKenzie 1995). Scottish courses he designed or had influence upon include :

  • Rosemont course at Blairgowie Golf Club in Perth and Kinross (James Braid also had input into the design of this course)
  • The No. 1 course at Hazlehead Park, Aberdeen
  • The Portland Course at Royal Troon.
  • Pollok Golf Course in Glasgow

kyle phillips

A more recent name to add to Scottish Golfing History may prove to be Kyle Phillips. This Golf Course architect first designed Kingsbarns near Crail in Fife and has since designed Dundonald Links in Ayrshire. He has also been involved in Golf Course designs worldwide.