Your deceased uncle bequeaths you his framed print of dogs playing poker. Great. Thanks. As you go to toss it in the trash, however, you notice that the picture is peeling in one corner and there’s something underneath—looks like it could be real artwork. So you take it to a specialist, and after examining it he reports, yes, there is a painting hidden there.
But not just any painting—an original van Gogh.
That’s more or less what happened to writer John Garrity, who played the role of the lucky nephew in the recent discovery of a lost Old Tom Morris course in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides. As Garrity recalls in “The Resurrection of Askernish Old”, the story goes back to the early 1990s, when he was snooping around the islands in search of the remains of the links Morris was known to have built there a century earlier. After much fruitless exploring, he literally stumbled onto something: a duneland of natural fairways and greens that he believed might be the treasure he’d set out to find.
Garrity ecstatically chronicled his adventure for Sports Illustrated, at which point the golf world collectively yawned and went back to sewing logos on shirts. But it turns out Garrity was right. He had found Old Tom Morris’s lost gem, and at long last a group of local golfers has found the wherewithal to uncover it. After some creative detective work and enterprising mowing, that course will open for play this summer, and if you’re a fan of old-time architecture (and who reading this magazine isn’t?), there’s a new must-play on your list.
I should clarify that Garrity, unfortunately, does not actually own any part of the masterpiece in question. He did receive a consolation prize, however: Not only can he claim to have helped rediscover the course, he can take credit for its new name. “In its first life the course was known simply as Askernish,” the writer reports, “but since I dubbed it ‘Askernish Old’ in my SI story, that’s what they’re calling it now.”
Old Tom’s Tentacles
Morris’s handiwork can also be seen in this issue’s guide to Northern Ireland, which features, of course, another of his legendary layouts, Royal County Down. His influence is evident much closer to home, as well: Our Rhode Island feature is heavily weighted with the work of Morris’s distinguished disciple, Donald Ross, who knowledgeable readers will recall grew up on and helped shape yet another Morris masterpiece, Royal Dornoch.