The British Open-Championship Belt to Claret 1860 to 1872 Masters of Golf - Bronze
Willie Park won the first Open Championship in 1860. The Fifeshire Journal
Newspaper commented on Willie: "Possessing all the requisites of a good golfer- neat style, long drive, cool as a cucumber, whether playing a losing or a winning game - and equally handy with all the tools used in golf - he fully justified the confidence reposed in him by his backers".
Old Willie made wooden clubs: drivers, play clubs, spoons and putters. About 1870, he established a firm of clubs and ball makers. Old Willie did limited work as a course designer.
Tom Morris, Jr. (1851-1875)
"Young" Tom Morris started playing golf matches when he was just 13 years old. He won the British Open Championship for the first time in 1868 at age 17, and remains the youngest player to ever win it. In that tournament, he also recorded the first hole-in-one in the competition. He won again in 1869 and 1870, when his winning score for the 36 holes was 149, including an eagle 3 at the first hole in the final round. This was incredible scoring and his total was not equaled for the next 32 years when the guttie ball was in use. Having retained the champion’s belt outright for his three consecutive wins, the championship lapsed in 1871 as the Prestwick club had no trophy to play for. But when it was resumed in 1872, "Young" Tom recorded his fourth successive victory, a record still unbroken today. He thus became the first winner of the famous claret jug, which is still held up by every winner and has the most famous names in the history of golf inscribed on it plinth.
"Young" Tom Morris was built with broad shoulders and hit the ball very hard but he had a beautiful style, great power, and a fine short game and on occasion his putting was phenomenal. He hit his putts high on the ball to give them top spin and played his quarter shots up to the hole with irons off the right foot, to impart more backspin to the ball. "Young" Tom was the man who put championship golf on the map.
Tragically, "Young" Tom died on Christmas Day 1875 of a lung hemorrhage after three months of shock and grief at the sudden death of his wife in her first childbirth, he was twenty-four. There is no telling how many other records he would have set if he had not died at such an early age. There is memorial to him on the grounds of St. Rule’s Cathedral, St. Andrews.
Old Tom Morris (1821 - 1908) - Four Time Open Champion (1861-1867) Greenskeeper, Course Designer, Ball Maker and Club Maker -
"Old Tom still holds two British Open Records, the oldest winner at age 46 in 1867 and the biggest margin of victory 13 strokes in 1862. In his 20’s, "Old" Tom was apprenticed to Allan Robertson at St. Andrews as a ball maker, and soon started to partner him on the golf course. He left St. Andrews to become greens keeper at Prestwick in 1851, and was in instrumental in arranging the first Open Championship which was played at Prestwick in 1860.
"Old" Tom Morris returned to St. Andrews in 1865 as greens keeper and then professional to the Royal and Ancient golf club, a post he held until his death in 1908. His bust looks down on the first tee from the front of the royal and ancient clubhouse to this day.
As a player he was described as having a long slow swing, which enabled him to use very whippy shafts in his clubs. He was a long and straight hitter, a splendid approacher, and admirable putter, except that he had a weakness for missing short putts.
He was prepared to accept challenges from unknown new players, as he showed in his willingness to play the brash upstart, Willie Parks in 1854. When he died in 1908, at the age of 87, he was saluted as "a man of unspoiled simplicity and genuineness of character" and was rightly esteemed as the Grand Old Man of Golf.
Bob Kirk caddie for "old" Tom Morris at St. Andrews became an outstanding golfer himself playing in eight British Opens, representing both St. Andrews and Royal Blackheath. His best finish was 2nd in 1870.
Prestwick, is where the first Open was played in 1860 and was home of that championship for the first 12 years of its existence. Prestwick went from twelve to eighteen holes. The course is now too short for championship golf and it is too cramped to handle the vast crowds that attend the major championships, but there are few more demanding courses, especially when the wind is blowing. The course is most famous for the 9th green, the "Cardinal", (which is now the 3rd hole) a par 3 (was a par 5) guarded by the great Cardinal bunker, the 5th, the "Himalayas", a blind par 3 over a range of sand dunes, and the 2nd which is now the 17th, where the second shot is again blind over the "Alps" to a small green guarded by a famous sleepered bunker.
In 1870, "Young" Tom Morris completed the first round of twelve holes in 47, one under fours. It is only when we consider the conditions under which it was made that the superlative merit of the performance becomes fully apparent. Prestwick was then a very long course, being two miles 230 yards for the twelve holes: it was beset with Hazards, was not nearly as fine as it is today, and the smoothness of the greens not at all to be compared with the state they are now kept in.