Old Tom Morris, he was universally known, did perhaps more than anyone to shape the game as we know it today. He started playing in St Andrews at the age of six and was apprenticed to Allan Robertson, the greatest player of his day.
The two fell out when Morris was found playing with a gutty ball, which his employer had banned. In 1951 Morris became the greenkeeper at Prestwick and it was there in 1860 that The Open began. Old Tom was the favourite but Willie Park Snr won the inaugural Open by two from Morris.
Old Tom got revenge the following year and in 1862 beat Park by 13 strokes, a record for The Open that still stands. He won four Opens in seven years and in 1867 set another record that remains to this day, that of being the oldest Champion at 46 years and 102 days.
The following year his son, Young Tom, became the youngest ever winner. In comparison to his great rival, the big-hitting Park, Old Tom was a steady player with a rhythmic, flat swing, rather like an “auld wife cutting hay”, it was said.
He stayed out of trouble but his main weakness was on the greens. He once received a letter addressed to “The Misser of Short Putts, Prestwick”. He last played in The Open in 1896 aged 75.
In 1864 he returned to St Andrews to be in charge of the Old Course, paid £50 a year by the R&A, but insisted there was no play on Sundays.
He laid out the New Course at St Andrews, as well as many others including Carnoustie and Muirfield. He swam in the sea every day of his life and out-lived his wife, daughter and three sons. He died aged 86 after a fall in 1908.