180-year-old Tom Morris golf ball goes to auction

A 180-year-old ball made by the “godfather of golf” is set to fetch up to £8000 at auction.
The 'Godfather of Golf', 'Old Tom' Morris and his son, Tommy. Picture: ContributedThe 'Godfather of Golf', 'Old Tom' Morris and his son, Tommy. Picture: Contributed
The 'Godfather of Golf', 'Old Tom' Morris and his son, Tommy. Picture: Contributed

The battered feathery golf ball, which dates back to 1834, was made by Tom Morris – otherwise known as Old Tom Morris.

After a difference of opinions with his boss, Old Tom moved to Prestwick in 1851 and set up his own equipment business.

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He was responsible for the design of Prestwick Golf Course and the New Course at St Andrews, before winning three out of the first five Open Championships.

The ball is expected to fetch between £6000 and £8000 when it is sold by Mullock’s Auctioneers on July 14 (TUE).

Auctioneer John Mullock said: “Tom Morris is considered the godfather of golf for the innovations he was part of in the sport.

“In today’s terms he would have been the equivalent of David Beckham.

“Items like this are offered so rarely that it is a real privilege to have one.”

Old Tom was born in St Andrews – the Home of Golf – in 1921 and started an apprenticeship with Allan Robertson when he was 13.

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After serving him for several years the pair parted company with him in 1946 over a difference in golf balls – Allan preferred the current feather ball, whereas Tom embraced the new rubber ball.

Old Tom took part – and won – his first ever Open Championship at Prestwick Golf Course in 1861.

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The following year he defended his title by 13 strokes – which remains the biggest winning margin in the tournament’s history.

Before falling to his death in 1908 in the clubhouse at St Andrews New Golf Club, Morris helped design courses at Carnoustie and Muirfield amongst others.

He is credited with the development of many of the aspects of the modern game including hazard placement and cutting greens to a different length to the fairway.

The ball is being sold as part of Mullock’s Golf Memorabilia auction being held at St Andrews on July 14.