Final preparations are underway to mark the bicentenary of Tom Morris in his birthplace, St Andrews, Scotland.
As part of a year of celebrations, recognising and raising awareness of his incredible contribution to the game, a number of events are taking place on the links which are synonymous with Old Tom and the sport he helped to shape and influence.
Born on June 16, 1821 in the Home of Golf, the son of a weaver, Tom Morris would become a four-time Champion Golfer, renowned ball and club maker, as well as tending to and helping to shape some of the UK and Ireland’s best golf courses, providing a blueprint for golf design and maintenance to be exported across the country and around the world.
As the bicentenary of his birth approaches, Euan Loudon, Chief Executive of the St Andrews Links Trust, said the Links were looking forward to hosting a specially commissioned competition and sharing exclusive content, all designed to recognise and raise awareness of Old Tom.
He said: “Working at the Links it is almost impossible to ignore what an important and integral figure Tom Morris is not only to the Home of Golf, but to the sport itself. We have been welcoming golfers for several weeks now to enjoy a Tom Morris inspired experience on our courses and it has been wonderful to see how much passion there is and the real desire to learn more about him.
“That has been one of our primary ambitions this year and through working with our Partners NBC Golf, Callaway, as well as Rick Shiels and European Tour player Min Woo Lee, we have created some new and exciting content to mark the occasion, which we hope golfers will love as well as perhaps inspiring a new generation to learn more about our sport and the significant role Old Tom played in its development.”
On the date of his 200th birthday a commemorative pin flag, featuring his name, iconic cross clubs and bicentenary dates will proudly fly on the 18th green of the Old Course, yards from the place he called home. Those golfers playing the Old Course on June 16 will receive a certificate signifying they played the famous links on this special date. Over on the New Course, the New Club of St Andrews will host a competition on the same day for golfers from local clubs to participate and celebrate his legacy.
This special week will culminate with the Old Tom 200 Invitational, to be held over the Old Course on Sunday, June 20. This unique event recognises the remarkable impact Old Tom had on the courses he designed or remodelled across the UK and Ireland with golfers from more than 40 golf clubs, including Royal County Down, Royal North Devon, Askernish, Machrihanish, Royal Dornoch, Carnoustie and many more making the journey to St Andrews for this special day’s play on the Old Course.
Mr Loudon added: “One of the many remarkable Old Tom feats I always return to is the footprint he left across the country. His story originates and is deeply embedded here in St Andrews, but his work travelled far and wide across the British Isles, in fact it is his work here at the Links and across our coastline that continues to inspire generations of golf course architects, designers and greenkeepers across the world.
“We feel a close association and affinity with these clubs and we are delighted so many of them and their guests wanted to join in our celebrations. It is wonderful to think they will retrace the path he followed all those years ago and return to St Andrews. It promises to be a fantastic celebration of Tom Morris, his outstanding body of work and the shared values we all have thanks to Old Tom; integrity; collaboration; and the pursuit of excellence.”
As well as this week’s celebrations St Andrews Links will continue to offer Tom Morris inspired packages throughout the summer as well as a range of unique, collaborations and exclusive products as well as welcoming guests to the recently opened Tom Morris Bar & Grill, which celebrates the old, introduces the new and tells the story of Old Tom through great food and drink.
Mr Loudon added that the Trust would continue to recognise the bicentenary throughout the calendar year and was exploring further ways to recognise Old Tom’s contribution to the Home of Golf.
He said: “Throughout the year we have been struck by the affinity so many hold for Old Tom and his significance to the game of golf. In many instances we have been touched to see how far his influence extends and, equally, closer to home it has highlighted how much love and appreciation exists for his achievements in St Andrews.
“Building on this strength of feeling we intend, in the near future, to engage with local stakeholders to explore ways to mark and honour his extraordinary contribution, to the town and the game, for generations to come.”