Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A history lesson for Golfnow.com -- Allan Robertson, Old Tom Morris, and the death of the feathery


Recently GolfNow.com has adopted an actor to play Old Tom Morris and act as a cover boy to their new marketing ploy. The TV commercials have various skits showing Old Tom playing the standard time traveler role, acting ignorant to the ways of modern day life.

He has various lines like, "Just a stone's throw from my wee stone house" and "I have yet to engage in a round of smacking the feathery."

It's crap. And thus ...

Tales from the Green Blazer Corps presents

Allan Robertson, Old Tom Morris, and the death of the feathery 

Before the time when the Green Blazer was the most sought after coat in the game of golf, it was the Red Jackets of St. Andrews that ruled the game.

Since its official inception as a golf club in 1754, all St. Andrews members donned red blazers with shiny brass buttons. The early Red Jackets were an entitled bunch of bureaucrats that trolled the links cursing at caddies, drinking whiskey and smoking tobacco from a pipe. They were a rude gang that the greatest golfer in Scotland, Old Tom Morris, did not take kindly to.

Old Tom did intend to make a profit off the red blazer crew, though, albeit in a much different way than golfnow is currently trying to make a profit off Old Tom. You see, Old Tom was in the club and ball-making business, and he had a shop in the town of St. Andrews. He had learned the trade from one of the most respected feathery makers in all of Scotland, Allan Robertson. Robertson was the first golfer ever known to ever break 80 for eighteen holes and was the best golfer in Scotland for much of his time. Robertson taught Old Tom everything he knew about golf, how to play it and how to profit from it.

After wood balls and before the gutta-percha, the golf ball of choice was a feathery. Featheries consisted of a leather casing crammed with goose feathers, which were softened by boiling. The ball was then knocked into shape and painted white.Ro

Stuffing a feathery wasn't an easy task. Robertson would tell young ball stuffers a likely true tale about a man dying after impaling himself when he slipped with all his body weight on a tool that stuffed the feathers into the leather casing. Morris worked at Robertson's shop as a young lad making featheries and fixing clubs.

Around 1850, the gutta-percha ball made its way to the home of golf. Gutta-percha is a kind of tree sap which golf ball makers would process and let harden in a ball shape before adding dimples to the surface. Allan Robertson detested the new golf ball and was nothing short of vehement in his support of the original feathery. Robertson even bought as many gutties as he could at one time only to set them ablaze in an attempt to keep the balls from reaching the public. 

One day when Old Tom was playing golf he ran out of golf balls and ask a playing partner if he could have one of theirs. They handed Tom a guttie, which he played for the remainder of the round. However when Allan caught wind that Tom had used a guttie, he denounced his friend and protege. The two had a falling out and Tom soon moved away to Prestwick to work at their club. Tom would eventually set up a shop making his own gutties, and selling them to the red blazers. It took a while, but even Allan gave into the guttie as he eventually had a guttie shop of his own. Recently a rare Robertson feathery sold at auction for $19,581. 
___________

So what's the history lesson to Golfnow.com? GolfNow depicts a version of Old Tom Morris that is at minimum 50-years-old, so he would not be "engaging in a round of smacking the feathery" and rather would be "engaging in a round of smacking a guttie."


Fake Old Tom Morris from the Golfnow.com commercials is looking glum because he hasn't yet engaged in a round of smacking a gutta-percha.


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Thanks for tbe history lesson.
And please lighten up a wee bit.
Toodles

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