The Perth Tournament of 1864
The North Inch golf course has played host to many greats of the game in its history and none more so than those who played in the Perth Tournament of 1864.
Hoping to capitalise on the success of the first ever Open Championship held at Prestwick in 1860, the Perth Tournament was organised by members of the Royal Perth Golfing Society, still playing matches on the North Inch to this day, and the King James VI golf club. The prize money on offer of £10, £5 and £3 rivalled that of the early Open Championships and as such the tournament drew some of the finest players of the time.
Teeing up on the first day of competition, 12th April 1864, in front of large following galleries were legends of the game such as Old Tom Morris and Willie Park Senior alongside the very best professionals from around the country and a host of local professionals and amateurs looking to test their games against the greats of the time.
The course was then a 12 hole layout which the players played 3 times. The professionals were the first to compete with Old Tom Morris and Willie Park both scoring 168 to tie for first with Bob Andrews and Davie Park two shots back on 170. There was then a 4 way playoff over 24 holes which saw Old Tom Morris take the victory over Willie Park, Bob Andrews of Perth and Willie’s brother Davie Park in fourth place.
Following the conclusion of the professional competition, local clubs and rival golfers played out a series of challenge matches so the tournament actually lasted for 8 days in total making it one of the longest golf tournaments ever played! The most famous of these challenge matches was between the prodigious Young Tom Morris and Perth golfer Willie Greig – both just 13 years of age at the time. Young Tom would go on to win the match, and just 4 years later would lift his first Open championship trophy proper at the age of 17 (a record which stands to this day) defeating Willie Park Snr in a playoff. Willie Grieg became an excellent player himself and won a number of championships and even now the Perth Artisans Golf Club still competes for the Greig Trophy every season in his honour.
Pictured below are some of the competitors form the 1864 Perth Tournament:
Standing Left to Right: Young Tom Morris, George Daniel Brown, Davie Park, Willie Dow, Charlie Hunter, Bob Andrews
Seated: Willie Park, James Johnstone, Old Tom Morris,
Sitting at front: Andrew Strath, Walter McDonald
(Picture courtesy of the Royal Perth Golfing Society)
‘Golf Over Two Inches’ by I H Cairns