Tuesday, July 27

Old Tom Morris Descendant Decries Modern Game

Editor’s note: Melvyn Morrow wants the game of golf back, and he wrote me a month ago to share a few of his views. “What right do I have to hold these views?” he wrote. “Just the same rights as all others, but also based upon over 250 years of my family playing golf at St. Andrews and the blood of Old Tom in my veins.”

By Melvyn Morrow

WE ARE IN THE MIDDLE of a war for the heart and soul of the game of golf, yet very few are aware of, or for that matter care about, the game’s core values.

The game of golf is a walking, thinking game that requires the players to have “a good eye, lasting power as a walker, nicety of calculation, and, above all, good temper.” The quote was printed in The Scotsman under the heading of “The Spread of Golf” from 1890.

(Photo: The Road Hole at St. Andrews / courtesy of Melvyn Morrow)

Just how much has been sacrificed at the altar of laziness? Golfers talk openly of non-walking courses, using carts instead of walking, and using outside aids to replace brains and eye coordination, both of which in times past have contributed to the challenge and pleasure of playing the game of golf.

Riding when golfers can walk changes the game. No longer will their bodies and minds be tested under the pressure of exertion. There are also yardage books and electronic aids to help poor limited-minded golfers decide which club to use.

Why do golfers put themselves through these hoops every hole, every round, and every time they play their type of golf? Why bother at all, as clearly they are not in control when deciding which club to use? Their toys are doing it while they remain cool and shaded on their cart.

Ladies and gentlemen, that’s not golf.

Golf is a walking and thinking game. But once golfers step foot off the fairway they are no longer involved in the game, and when they let outside aids assist in club choice, just where is the pleasure of self-achievement? Because they did not do it by themselves.

The war is not yet lost. Look around and you will find many golfers walking, some regrettably using distance aids, but still willing to use their limbs. So perhaps in time they may realise they need to use the old grey cells before they too decide to fade for lack of use. The choice is, of course, down to each individual as our governing bodies are already crippled with indecision, perhaps the result of a total lack of use over the last 100 years or so.

In closing, those who are walking and thinking—not using any form of outside aid—are playing a game called golf.

Melvyn Morrow is the great, great grandson of four-time Open champion Old Tom Morris. Read more about him in The Scotsman.


bkuehn1952 said...

While I am sympathetic to Mr. Morrow's arguements, the use of a cart and GPS/Laser don't really alter the game that much. Perhaps if one is playing 36 holes, a healthy walker will experience enough fatigue to alter his or her game from the norm. However 18 hilly holes on a hot day won't overwhelm most walkers.

The use of yardage measuring devices can grant an advantage to the user over a non-user, especially with very wayward shots or on unfamiliar courses. Of course, knowing one needs 188 yards to carry a bunker and actually hitting the shot are two different things. The vast majority of us can't consistently hit a shot 100 yards when required much less 190 over a bunker.

In the end, if I am a better golfer than my cart-riding, laser-toting opponent, the score will reflect that after I walk 18 and used the 100/150/200 posts as guides.

Rebel Creek Gold Club said...

We have this conversation all the time. Purist vs. New age. I am somewhere in the middle of the road. I feel the purist of the game don't necessarily look at the business aspect of it. The course is their to provide a valuable experience, that includes cart, that latest clothing, GPS, etc. It is what they demand.

It becomes a catch 22 from a pure business point of view - provide value, provide golf experience, make money to run operation and make owner, GM, board happy. And by the way keep the game as pure as possible. TOUGH some times.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your comments, all I can add is that in my humble opinion to Walk is to play Golf, any other forms of mobility around a golf course (unless medically required) is just not playing the Game both physically and spiritually.

The Game was, is, and needs to remain a Walking Game. Walking allows the Golfer the time to study and embraced the surroundings and thus try to understand the architecture. Fundamentally, the game requires the Golfer to grasp the challenge, part of which is the ability to think for his/herself and to execute the shots from within.

I play the game using my God’s given gifts, the trick is to try to co-ordinate the function correctly for that fraction of a second or so to allow the shot to be calculated and taken. Sorry but artificial aids be they in the form of carts or Rangefinder etc. are just not part of the natural process. For me the problem is very simple I would be cheating myself, as that is certainly not my intention when I play any kind of sports, I refuse to embrace the toys of The Devil.

I am a Man of the Links, of The Old Course St Andrews (http://www.standrews.org.uk/The-Courses/The-Old-Course.aspx ) of Askernish South Uist,(http://www.askernishgolfclub.com/ ) of Machrihanish (http://www.machgolf.com/ )and of Machrie (http://www.machrie.com/machrie-golf-links.html ) .I enjoy Hickory Golf which compared with the todays new equipment is more akin to traditional golf, no real golf.

Gentlemen, you must decide your game and how you wish to play it but for real fun, total enjoyment and challenge please Walk and leave your aids at home, certainly if you are playing a Links course. The only potential problem is that you might, just might find yourselves agreeing with me.

May your Gods go with you

Melvyn Hunter Morrow

Unknown said...

Hello Melvyn, please contact me if you see this post ... I'm doing research on Tom Morris and would like to speak with you about some items. Also, my wife and visited St. Andrews last month (August 2018) and couldn't believe there is a new The Open sign replacing the former Tom Morris sign. Many thanks.

--- Ken from Enfield, CT