FP100: No. 8

Tom Morris Grave, St Andrews
Tom Morris Grave, St Andrews

Tom Morris’ grave, St Andrews

Buried in the grounds of St Andrews cathederal, is golfer Tom Morris.

Young Tom followed in his father’s footsteps into the world of golf.

He was winner of three consecutive Open titles.

His father, Old Tom, who won the last of his four Opens championships in 1867, died in 1908.

Young Morris learned golf early on in life at the Prestwick Golf Club links, which had been laid out by his father, the Club’s professional and greenkeeper, in 1851.

Tom made his debut aged only 14 in the Open Championship in 1865, but dropped out of the tournament and failed to complete the event.

He was placed 9th in 1866, 18 shots behind the winner, and in 1867, was placed fourth in the Open Championship.

Also in 1867, the father and son team travelled to Carnoustie for a significant open tournament, which attracted a strong field of 32 players, the largest seen anywhere else up to that time.

Tom won the Open Championship in 1868, 1869, 1870, and 1872 (there was no Open Championship in 1871).

No one else has since repeated this feat of four straight Open Championships.

All four championships were played at Prestwick Golf Club, the course where he had learned the game of golf as a youth.

His 1868 win, at the tender age of 17, made him the youngest major champion in golf history, a record which still stands to this day.

In October 1875, Tommy was reported to have become seriously unwell and took to his bed unable to move. He died two months later on Christmas Day.

It is thought that he died from a ruptured aneurysm of one of the main arteries at the back of his chest. He was 24 years old.

His death came just three months after his wife and child died during during childbirth.

In his grief, he stopped playing golf but took it up again at the encouragement of family and friends shortly before he took ill.

Despite the official cause of death being noted, legend had it that young Tommy succumbed to a broken heart.

His large white gravestone in the grounds of the cathedral depicts a golfer swinging a golf club with an inscription below which reads:

“Deeply regretted by numerous friends and all golfers, he thrice in succession won the Championship Belt and held it without envy, his many amiable qualities being no less acknowledged than his golfing achievements”.

Directly in front of young Tommy’s grave is his father’s.

Tom Morris Senior outlived his son and died at the age of 86 after sustaining a fractured skull, when he fell down the stairs at The New Club, at St. Andrews.

He was so highly respected that hundreds attended his funeral, spanning the entire length of South Street in St. Andrews.

Both graves attracts hundreds of thousands of golfers each year who wish to pay homage to the two golfing greats.