The Portraits

Old Tom MorrisTom Morris Sr, 1903 by Sir George Reid


Old Tom (1821-1908) was reported to have said on seeing this portrait for the first time, “you’ve got the checks on my bunnet a’ wrang”.  Morris was born in St Andrews in 1821.  Apprenticed to Allan Robertson, he worked with him for 11 years. He established his own club and ball making business before moving to Prestwick, where he was employed as custodian of Prestwick Links.  Morris remained there for fourteen years.  He returned to St Andrews in 1864 and worked for The Royal and Ancient Golf Club as Keeper of the Links, a position he held for forty years.  Tom Morris won The Open four times, in 1861, 1862, 1864 and 1867.  Until the emergence of his son Tommy, he was the best golfer of his day.  He died in 1908.

The portrait of Old Tom, which was painted by Sir George Reid (1841-1913), was commissioned in the autumn of 1902 and delivered to the Club the following spring.  Reid was President of the Royal Scottish Academy from 1891-1902 and was knighted in 1891.  He was paid £250 for the painting of Old Tom.


Sir Hugh Lyon PlayfairSir Hugh Lyon Playfair, 1851 by James Wilson


Playfair (1785-1861) was one of the most prominent figures in St Andrews during the 19th century.  Following a career in the Honourable East India Company’s Bengal Army, he returned home to St Andrews in 1832.  In 1835 he founded the Union Club and set up the Union Parlour as a clubhouse facility for golfers.  His efforts, in turn, led to the construction of The Royal and Ancient Clubhouse.  As Provost of St Andrews from 1842-1861 he was largely responsible for transforming the centre of St Andrews into a ‘modern’ town.  He oversaw many improvements to the area around the links.  In 1856, Playfair served as Captain of the Club and also received his knighthood.

The painting was purchased by the Union Club in 1851 for the sum of 20 guineas.  It was purchased on the condition that it would remain the property of the Union Club and that it would hang in their principal hall for all time.  The painting moved to the Clubhouse in 1854 and continues to hang in the big room.