Old Tom Morris golf ball could bring £8,000 at auction
A golf ball made by Old Tom Morris, the "Godfather of Golf", is heading to auction at St Andrews this week.
At more than 180 years old, the feathery ball is a true piece of golfing history, and comes from one of the game's most important figures.
“Tom Morris is considered the godfather of golf for the innovations he was part of in the sport," auctioneer John Mullock told The Scotsman. “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.”
Morris was born in St Andrews, and by the age of 14 was apprenticed as a caddy to Allan Robertson, generally regarded as the world's first professional golfer. By the 1840s the pair were playing together in challenge matches, and became known as 'The Invincibles', before a dispute over golf balls saw Morris fired.
Robertson had a business making feathery golf balls, whereas Morris began to use the newer rubber balls, which proved a threat to his boss' livelihood. Morris was then hired by Prestwick Golf Club in 1851 to design and maintain the course, and came second in the very first Open Championship held at the course in 1860.
He went on to win the event in 1861, then defended his title in 1862 with a 13-stroke lead which remains the biggest winning margin in the history of The Open. He also claimed victory in 1864, and in 1867 became the tournament's oldest winner at the age of 46, a record which still stands.
Morris went on to create numerous golf courses around the British Isles, and his innovations in design and greenkeeping helped shape the game as we know it. To this day his grave at St Andrews Cathedral is visited by thousands of golfers each year, all wishing to pay their respects to the father of the modern game.
Dating from 1834, and bearing a partially visible stamp, the ball on offer was made during Morris' apprenticeship with Robertson. It is expected to sell for £6,000-£8,000 when it crosses the block as part of the Mullock’s Golf Memorabilia auction at St Andrews on July 14.
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