New book into life of the grandfather of the modern game makes an incredible discovery
Old Tom Morris was worth over a million pounds in today’s money by the time he died in the early 20th century. That’s one of the most intriguing discoveries made by golf historian Roger McStravick whilst researching his exceptional new book St Andrews: In The Footsteps Of Old Tom Morris.
McStravick has spent three years researching his subject after being inspired by fellow historian and Old Tom impersonator David Joy’s performance in a play at the Byre Theatre in St Andrews, as well as David Malcolm’s book, Tom Morris of St Andrews: The Colossus of Golf.
The fruit of McStravick’s labour is a detailed and comprehensive insight into the life and times of the four-time Open champion and the man widely credited with being one of the standard-bearers of the game as we know it today.
“He is genuinely a phenomenon,” McStravick told the latest edition of our sister title, bunkered. “People almost see him as a mythical creature but he started in the poorest area of St Andrews living in the east end of North Street. By the time he died, he was a very wealthy man and had the equivalent of around £1.5m in his bank account.”
McStravick drew on archives kept by the R&A, the University of St Andrews and a number of private collectors as he compiled information for the book and he says there were a number of special moments during his lengthy research.
“It was huge fun and there were so many ‘Eureka!’ moments,” he added. “The first one was finding Old Tom’s very first shop at 15 The Links. That was hugely exciting.
“Another one was just pure luck, really. One of the members of staff at the university had a box and she said: ‘It’s called St Andrews Links but we’re not sure what’s in it.’ I opened it up and that basically rewrote the first hole of the Old Course. It contained all of the receipts for the cart men in St Andrews to come down and dump rubbish on the beach. The rubbish was covered with soil and that effectively created the first hole. But these were the actual tangible receipts from the 1830s and 1840s.”
He added: “I’m really looking forward to bringing out the new findings, photographs, paintings and the rest. There’s a lot that people will have never seen before.”
For more information on St Andrews: In The Footsteps Of Old Tom Morris, log-on to www.thegolfbookshop.com