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Ball-maker. Club-maker. Open champion. Golf architect. Old Tom Morris did it all.

We have the legendary Old Tom Morris to thank for so much in our game. The most famous man to come out of St. Andrews, he led the way in influencing so many elements of today’s game. As the man who designed the world’s first 18-hole course, we’ve had a look at some of his work.

Affectionately known as ‘Old Tom’, Thomas Mitchell Morris was born in June 1821 and played throughout his childhood before turning to caddying in 1835.

He became the apprentice of Allan Robertson; the man Morris would learn so much from, while assisting him in laying out the first ten holes at Carnoustie.

Prestwick was next, altering the basic links into a 12-hole course, before designing, extending or remodelling the likes of Royal Dornoch, Leven Links and Panmure.

Amid that was his work on the Old Course in his hometown. Now the most revered golf course in the world, Old Tom’s extensive work has proved to be the foundation.

It became the standard for golf courses around the world, as Old Tom went one step further and designed the game’s first 18-hole setup at Forfar Golf Club in 1871.

Widely regarded as the greatest golf course architect who ever lived, Morris is said to have designed 76 courses, so here are some of our recommendations…


Cullen Links Golf Club  

Par 63 Yards 4,623 

Originally designed as a 9-hole course by Old Tom Morris, Cullen Links is perfectly located along the stunning shores of the Moray Firth. Sat halfway between Royal Dornoch and Royal Aberdeen on the Moray Firth coastline, this is a design from golfing history and is known as the shortest true links course in the world.


Forfar Golf Club 

Par 69 Yards 6,095

Opened in 1871, Forfar truly is a gem of a golf course. There are only three 18-hole golf courses in the world that were around before Forfar Golf Club, while it was the very first to be laid out as 18 holes from the beginning. With unique “rig and furrow” undulations, Forfar has a special treelined links feel and is a must play for any golf enthusiast.


Kinghorn Golf Course 

Par 65 Yards 5,141 

Kinghorn is one of Fife’s – and Scotland’s – oldest courses. The original 9-hole layout was founded in 1887 and, especially from the medal tees, presents a continual challenge that is a fine test of traditional links golf. Meanwhile, spectacular views over the Firth of Forth are available from almost all of the 18 holes. 


Callander Golf Club 

Par 66 Yards 5,208

Home to 18-holes of parkland golf, Callander Golf Club is not a long challenge, but instead small greens and tight fairways make it tricky to score well. With fantastic views, the signature hole must be the 15th – a short par-3 with a narrow valley of trees leading to the green. You’ll also want to look out for the seventh, which boasts a blind tee shot. 


Royal Cromer 

Par 72 Yards 6,299

Old Tom Morris was instrumental in planning the course as it moved to 18 holes, and his imprint is still visible in parts of today’s course. Royal Cromer stretches along the Cromer and Overstrand cliffs, featuring sea views from virtually every hole. A delight to play, it’s the second oldest golf club in Norfolk and will go down as an unforgettable experience. 


West Kilbride Golf Club 

Par 71 Yards 6,146 

Just 20 minutes from Royal Troon and overlooking the Firth of Clyde and Arran, West Kilbride boasts a wonderful golf course. Originally a nine-hole track laid out by Old Tom Morris, seven of his original holes are still in play today. The back nine is particularly top-notch, with the double-greened 17th a particular standout.


Kirkcaldy Golf Club

Par 71, Yards 6,083

Kirkcaldy is one of the most historically important golf courses in Scotland as it is the last track Old Tom Morris ever designed in 1904. The impressive layout features the Tiel burn running throughout, intercepting the lush fairways and smooth rolling greens. The views out onto the Firth of Forth are spectacular, making this storied venue a must-visit.


Kingussie Golf Club 

Par 67 Yards 5,315 

Situated in scenic isolation within the Cairngorm National Park, Kingussie offers a fantastic 18-hole course that was extended from its original nine-hole layout in 1907. With 125 years of history, the club boasts a rich culture that continues to bring visitors back. Truly one of the best very examples of Higland golf in the Spey Valley. 


Helensburgh Golf Club 

Par 69 Yards 5,609 

Golfers have been enjoying the moorland set-up at Helensburgh since 1893 and for good reason. Only 20 miles from Glasgow, the setting couldn’t be any more peaceful, overlooking the Clyde Estuary and the Trossachs National Park. Old Tom wasn’t the only golf great to lend his hand to the course, incidentally. James Braid did, too. It’s a real treat. 

The Old Tom Morris Trail

You can follow in the footsteps of the legendary Old Tom Morris, by playing some of the most majestic golf courses in Scotland. 

Established in 2021, the Old Tom Morris trail showcases 18 of the most stunning and challenging courses in the home of golf, to set up the trip of a lifetime. 

Full-service luxury tour

Accommodation, transport and tee times are all available. Let the expert team take care of everything and plan your ultimate golf trip. 

There is also a ‘play your own way guide’, for anyone wishing to go their own way and self-plan the adventure. 


Collectable coins

The Old Tom Morris trail gives players the opportunity to collect 18 commemorative coins, one for each course that is played. 

Arriving in a presentation sleeve and protective coin capsule, the coins feature the club crest on one side and the course name with an image of Old Tom Morris on the other. 

For more details: 

X – @OTMTrail  

Instagram – @OldTomMorristrail



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