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Tom Morris

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The Keeper of the Green '395' Edition £395
  • This Edition is strictly limited to 395 copies
  • Each copy is numbered and signed by Peter Crabtree
  • The main text and appendices run to 350 pages
  • There are some 325 illustrations, including over 70 full page. Many have not previously been published
  • The printing is high definition, on quality art paper, to give the best possible illustration reproduction
  • The page size is 235 x 290mm (91/4 x 111/2 inches)
  • The binding is half-leather, using top quality morocco leather
  • Protected in slipcase
The Subscribers '87' Edition Refer
  • This Edition is strictly limited to 87 copies, one for every year of Tom Morris’s life
  • Specification as per THE KEEPER OF THE GREEN ‘395’ EDITION above, with the following additional features:
  • Bound in full green morocco leather
  • Gold block to front with gilt tooled emblems to spine in compartments, gilt titling direct, all edges gilt with dentelles, full leather slipcase with gilt stamp, silk bookmark, top and tail bands, silk endpapers
  • List of Subscribers’ names
  • Seven additional illustrative plates
  • The Royal Bank of Scotland R&A 250th Anniversary commemorative £5 note tipped-in, bearing an image of Tom Morris, the first time a golfer has been portrayed on a British banknote. The last two digits of the serial number will correspond to the number of the copy
  • Included in an annexe to rear cover are four high quality facsimile reproductions of important historical manuscript documents:
  • i) Tom Morris’s 1864 Open Championship winning card, the earliest extant and the first time the winner was awarded prize money ii) Letter from George Glennie of Blackheath to Charles Campbell (of Prestwick Golf Club), dated 19 October 1860, commenting on the play during the first Open Championship iii) Draft conditions for the first Open, in the hand of Colonel J. O. Fairlie, the genesis of the Open Championship iv) Tom’s resignation letter, dated August 1864, to Prestwick Golf Club

Topics covered include:

  • In-depth analysis of Tom, his antecedents and contemporaries in golf.
  • Tom’s rise from obscurity to national and international renown.
  • New detailed insight into Tom’s forebears, his family and the tragedies he endured for most of his adult life.
  • Tom’s contribution to the game and his influence in the context of his time have been completely re-assessed. In a society obsessed by class distinction, Tom’s changing status makes for fascinating reading.
  • His son Tommy’s ascendancy in golf and his ultimately tragic life is covered in-depth, as well as the crucial role both he and Davie Strath played in popularising the game.
  • The importance of the challenge matches between Tom and Willie Park in the period 1855-1870.
  • James Hunter’s (Tom’s son-in-law) success in the timber business in Georgia and Alabama which transformed the Morris family’s financial situation.
  • A new appreciation is given of the part played in the development of the game in the 19th century by the leading golf clubs of the day, particularly Prestwick, Royal Liverpool and Royal North Devon.
  • Corrections to errors and myths, repeated over the years by writers and observers.


"Every so often, a book on the history of golf is published that expands our knowledge of the game and pushes out our understanding through its originality and width of coverage. Usually, but not always, the scholarliness and depth of content is complemented by the excellence of its production values. Pre-World War I, think of Clark’s Golf a Royal and Ancient Game, Hutchinson’s Badminton edition of Golf, and Hilton and Smith’s The Royal and Ancient Game of Golf. Since the last War we have had Darwin’s editorship of A History of Golf in Britain, Henderson and Stirk’s Golf in the Making, Ellis’s The Clubmaker’s Art and David Hamilton’s Golf, Scotland’s Game. To my mind, this book by David Malcolm and Peter Crabtree falls into this elite category.

The focus is certainly Old Tom and his life, but the more general theme is the development of golf over the period 1821 – 1908, as reflected by Tom and his family, and as influenced by them. Many familiar stories are there – but even on such a well-covered subject there is so much more. In some cases debunking myths and correcting inaccuracies, but so often extending into new areas of understanding through painstaking research of new and original sources. Obvious sources like previous histories, club archives and contemporary magazines and journals are explored. So too are the more obscure family wills and registers, legal documents and submissions, shipping rosters and burgh records, to give understanding of context and relationships between events: the effect of the financial adventures of an early English professional in St Andrews on the establishment of Tom’s business; the importance of the Prestwick connection on the wider development of the Morris family fortune; Tommy’s unexpected and surprising choice of bride; the reclamation and embankment of the Swilken Burn and its importance in the evolution of the present layout of the Old Course. These and other developments are all described and illustrated with fine exhibits drawn from diverse sources, including many of the great collections of the world. Many illustrations have never been published before.

Design is by Chic Harper, whose work we have also seen with the history of the New Club, St Andrews. Format is just above A4 height, but broadened to give space for the many fine quality illustrations, in black and white, sepia and colour. This review is based on print-off from a pre-production file, but the printing proofs of both text and illustrations are of the highest quality and materials specifications look equally good. There are two editions: the Subscribers, in full Harmatan leather, with seven extra full plate illustrations and facsimiles of family documents in an annexe to rear, produced in a limited production run of only 87 copies; and the Keeper of the Green edition, half-morocco and limited to 395 copies. Excellence at this level does not come cheap and many members may baulk at the asking prices of £950 and £395 respectively. My own feeling is that like so many of their illustrious predecessors, these books will more than hold their value and that special efforts may need to be made both to justify the immediate cost, and to raise the required finances. My heartfelt plea to the publishers is to retain the option at some later stage for a trade edition that will ensure the wider appreciation for this great work, that it so richly deserves."

Review by John Pearson

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