A makeover and a new model mean golfwear stalwart Tom Morris is in the swim
WHAT Fred Perry is to tennis, Tom Morris is to golf. Born in St Andrews in 1821, he won the Open championship four times. But his contribution to the game was far greater than a few trophies for the clubhouse.
Widely considered the founder of the modern game, he designed some of the world’s greatest courses – including Prestwick and Muirfield – and helped popularise the modern rubber golf ball.
But what has, perhaps, ensured his name lives on in circles beyond that of golf is that his is also the oldest golf brand in the world – he opened his eponymous shop overlooking his beloved Old Course in St Andrews in 1866.
That brand has just received one of the biggest overhauls ever seen in Scottish retail. Acquired by the St Andrews Links Trust in 2010, Tom Morris reopened this summer with a look that is about as far from pullovers and plus fours as you can get (though there is a fetching pair of tartan trews in there). There’s an emphasis on stylish, contemporary casual wear with a sporting edge – so you’ll find Harrington jackets, shawl-neck cardigans, clubhouse-style sweaters and classic Oxford shirts.
And, while making the most of Scottish textiles – the cashmere is by Johnstons of Elgin, the lambswool by Peter Scott, and a new tartan has been designed for the brand by Kinloch Anderson – the label is aimed as much at those who don’t play golf as those who do. To this end, the debut collection has been modelled not by a promising young golfer, but by a swimmer, an Olympian no less, Michael Jamieson.
But it’s hard to get away from that Morris heritage. The store itself has the original flagstone floor and brickwork, and various pieces that belonged to Old Tom were found during the renovation, including his workbench, the fireplace where he heated and shaped balls, and what is believed to be the locker where he stored his clubs. Already the brand has outlets in Harrods and at major golf resorts, including Celtic Manor in Wales, Pebble Beach in California, and Congressional in Maryland, and was nominated in the Scottish Fashion Awards. Not bad for a tee-off.
GLASGOW-born Michael Jamieson became the star of British swimming following his stunning silver medal win at the London 2012 Olympics, his first Games. It took a world record to get the gold.
An athlete ambassador for the forthcoming Glasgow Commonwealth Games, alongside Jess Ennis Hill and Nicola Adams, he is also a keen football fan and his live match commentary can often be found on Twitter – with a particular Celtic bias.
“I play golf too occasionally but not as much as I’d like,” he says. “When I do, it tends to be limited to one session at the driving range and one nine-hole round. I haven’t played recently due to a shoulder problem but I need to get back out, I really enjoy it.”
Through watching various Open Championships, he was aware of who Tom Morris, the golfer, was. “But I wasn’t aware of the brand prior to becoming an ambassador,” he adds. “Hopefully we can spread the word to a much wider audience – I’m a huge fan of the range.”
But as to whether he might consider modelling as a plan B, he laughs, saying: “I’m not sure it would ever be an option. I did enjoy the shoot but it takes a bit of getting used to, having your photograph taken, as you feel a bit awkward. As long as it’s not taken too seriously, it’s fun.”