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Royal Dornoch prepares to celebrate Old Tom’s 200th birthday

4.33pm 10th June 2021 - Course Development

Royal Dornoch Golf Club in Scotland will join other venues across the golfing world in celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Old Tom Morris next week.

June 16 marks the bicentenary of the birth of one of the finest ever golfers and golf course architects. A four-time winner of The Open between 1861 and 1867, the feats of ‘Old Tom’ will be celebrated near and far by clubs and golfers – with Royal Dornoch no exception. 

On the morning of June 16, club members will play a Texas Scramble over the most original 18-hole layout of the links that is feasible. This will include some of the current Championship Course and Struie Course holes.

After the match, members will also be entertained at the club by a talk given by Todd Warnock, owner of neighbouring Links House. Warnock will discuss the different layouts of the course from its original 9-hole routing through the various 18-hole configurations, until Sutherland achieved the design Old Tom had proposed.

Old Tom Morris was born in 1821

Neil Hampton, General Manager at Royal Dornoch, said: “We very much look forward to honouring Old Tom Morris as part of a day of celebration on June 16. Old Tom’s contribution to golf was extraordinary, having embraced the game of golf from a very young age. His feats on the fairways were then matched by his course design and we at Royal Dornoch will always be grateful for his efforts. Having been born in 1821, it is testament to the legend of Old Tom Morris that we are still celebrating his life 200 years later.” 

It was in 1886 that Royal Dornoch, established as a club nine years earlier, invited the veteran champion golfer to visit Dornoch, make a survey of the links and lay out a more fully planned golf course. Club Secretary John Sutherland was the driving force behind the move, engaging Old Tom from his native St Andrews where he was ‘Keeper of the Green’ having started on a golfing path from caddie to club-maker.

Back then, there were loosely nine holes at Dornoch, with no greens, no fairways and merely stretches of links land closely cropped by animals such as cattle, sheep and rabbits.

For Royal Dornoch – named ‘Scotland’s Best Golf Course’ at the 2020 World Golf Awards – the rest is history, with Old Tom’s guiding hand also having a huge influence on over 70 courses throughout the UK and Ireland. Indeed, the courses to which Old Tom contributed read like a roll of honour. Among them are Royal Dornoch, Machrihanish, Muirfield, Nairn, Prestwick, St Andrews (New) and, in Northern Ireland, Royal County Down and Royal Portrush.

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