Golfers from home and abroad will be able to retrace the steps of the world-renowned Grand Old Man of Golf with the launch of The Old Tom Morris Trail, across some of Scotland’s most spectacular and challenging courses, to commemorate the great man’s unrivalled influence on the game. VisitScotland is supporting the attraction and welcomed the launch of the new 18-course golfing trail saying it would play a role in supporting the recovery of Scotland’s international golf tourism in a hugely significant year for the sport in Scotland.
Old Tom Morris was a huge figure in golf
St Andrews-born Old Tom is globally recognised as the most important person in the history of golf. During the 19th century, he did more than any other to spread the appeal of golf, travelling the length and breadth of Britain and Ireland designing course after course. The Old Tom Morris Trail has been created by Aberdeen-based luxury golf vacation operator Bonnie Wee Golf. Managing Director Dave Harris said: “Old Tom Morris was such a huge figure in golf. What better way to pay tribute to the legend than to create a unique trail in his honour? “It was something we felt inspired to do during the pandemic to mark the 200th anniversary of Old Tom’s birth. We carefully selected some of the finest courses – some iconic and others hidden gems – that have all been designed or enhanced by Old Tom.”
Dave set up Bonnie Wee Golf 20 years ago after working as a caddy for American tourists who couldn’t get enough of Scotland’s golf, in particular the challenge of links courses. Bonnie Wee Golf’s range of luxury golf tours now attract more than 300 repeat clients, mainly from the US. Dave said: “The nature of our repeat business shows the allure Scotland continues to have for golfers who want to play some of the world’s best courses. Everyone’s travel plans were sadly put on hold for the last two years. Through the worst of the pandemic, we were repeatedly forced to postpone our clients’ trips, but now Scotland is well and truly open for business, we know that the appetite for golf here is greater than ever. We are delighted and very excited to launch the Old Tom Morris Trail, allowing golfers to follow in his footsteps, and to demonstrate that Scotland really is worth waiting for.”
Golf is an integral part of Scotland
This year, Scotland plays host to the 150th Open Championships in St Andrews; the Scottish Open at Renaissance, East Lothian; the Women’s Open at Muirfield; the Women’s Scottish Open at Dundonald Links, Ayrshire; and the Men’s Senior Open at Gleneagles. Alan Grant, VisitScotland’s Senior Golf Manager, said: “Golf is such an integral part of Scotland, and this is a significant year for the sport as we look forward to achieving full capacity at these major events. The Old Tom Morris Trail provides an excellent focus for golf visitors – from home and overseas – to sample some of our most iconic golf courses, as well as those more off the beaten track. By featuring some hidden gems as well as traditionally well-known courses, the trail supports our responsible and sustainable tourism strategy, to spread the benefits of golf tourism across our regions. US golf tourists are hugely important to Scotland, and we would encourage tourism operators across the country to make a connection with golf to allow them to share in the benefits that this year will inevitably bring.”
While some golfers may be tempted to complete the Old Tom Morris Trail in one visit to Scotland, it has been designed to encourage golfers to visit on more than one occasion to complete the tour, again supporting VisitScotland’s strategic aims. Mr Grant added: “Visiting Scotland to play golf is a force for good. Playing sport in the great outdoors, relaxing and unwinding with friends, and enjoying the magnificent scenery and hospitality that our country offers, is an unbeatable proposition for tourists the world over.”
A colossus of golf
US-based golf historian Stephen Proctor, author of Monarch of the Green: Young Tom Morris – Pioneer of Modern Golf, said: “The trail is a brilliant idea and I’m sure it will be a smash hit for Scotland. Old Tom Morris was a font of wisdom; he truly was a colossus of golf. Back when golf was coming of age, he was the one you contacted if you wanted to build a new golf course or discuss a design. He was an honourable man and would charge £1 per day, plus expenses, to design a course. He was instrumental in spreading the Scottish game around the world, and it was his character that helped shape the reputation of golf as a game of honour. It is so wonderfully fitting that golfers from all over the world will now be able to retrace his steps. I can’t wait to visit.”
The official start of the trail is Askernish in South Uist, in the Outer Hebrides, and the official finish is Machrihanish on the Mull of Kintyre. The Tom Morris Bar & Grill in St Andrews will be the trail’s halfway house. The Old Clubhouse Pub at Machrihanish will be the official 19th Hole. Each golfer will be gifted a unique Old Tom Morris Trail collector’s edition commemorative coin for each of the 18 golf courses that they play, and those who complete the trail will be awarded a commemorative wall display for all 18 coins.
For more information see: www.oldtommorristrail.com
Main photo: Dave Harris (left), with Bonnie Wee Golf tour specialist team Cam Howe (centre) and director Stew Morrison, display the Old Tom Morris Trail commemorative coins.