Custodians of the Game
The Royal and Ancient Golf Club is the custodian of a distinguished collection, comprising paintings, maps, trophies and medals, as well as clubs and balls. Through the preservation and study of its records and artefacts, much has been learned about the history of the Club, the members who shaped its history and indeed the history of golf in general.
Below is a small sample of the collection to enjoy. More can be found by clicking here.
Where better to begin than with Old Tom Morris (1821 – 1908), the father of the game, who 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. He would remain there for 14 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.