To the world he lived in, 4-time British Open champion Tom Morris was more than a gifted clubmaker, a talented player, and a respected professional—he epitomized the game. In print he was accorded such affectionate titles as “The high priest of the hierarchy of golf,” “The father of golf,” “The Nestor of Golf,” and The Grand Old Man of Golf.” Yet, through all the accolades and fame, he remained a kind, honest, and simple man. To those with whom he worked, golfed, and lived, he was simply “Old Tom.”
Because of his personal character, Tom Morris changed the public perception of a professional golfer from that of a rogue without a real occupation to someone worthy of society’s respect. He did this while working in the world of golf during the feather ball era, through the gutty ball era, and into the rubber core era. When Tom Morris died in 1908 at 87 years of age, the entire town of St. Andrews shut down on the day of his funeral.
The June 5, 1908 issue of Golf Illustrated reported on Tom’s passing and concluded an absolutely wonderful article with these words. “His achievements in the golfing world were great, and will be handed down from time to time, but the great moral of his life was that, no matter in what sphere, it is character that achieves the greatest victories. Old Tom was great as a golfer, but greater still as a man.“ (TCA2 v1 p62-65 & v2 p 564-565)
Offered here is a circa 1860s long spoon make by Old Tom when he was a younger man. The head measures 5 5/8” in length, 2” in width, and 1 1/8” in depth. The head shape is beautifully crafted and exceptionally attractive. It is sleek and elongated along the lines of a feather-ball-era club.
Measuring 43 ½” in length, this long spoon has a well-lofted face. This club was likely made for a particular individual, given that it has an exceptionally lofted face for such a long shaft and the owner’s initials SWA are stamped on the head. The shaft is original as is the neck whipping. The grip is a modern replacement in the style of an old white kid grip.
The Morris name is strong, the original blond finish is all there as is the original varnish which has darkened a bit with age. As an added bonus, the head is particularly stylish and attractive. The more elegant and graceful the shape of the head, the better the clubmaker. This club was crafted by hand, before there was electricity, and it was no small accomplishment for Morris to achieve a level of sculptural art with his efforts. Overall, this club is a great example and contains some of Morris’s best work.
TCA2 v1 p62-65