Penn State

Kenneth L. Swalgin - associate professor of kinesiology, Penn State York

Book Title: Tommy's Honour, The Extraordinary Story of Golf's Founding Father and Son

Author: Kevin Cook

Book Description:

Tommy's Honour gives the reader an insight into the early days of golf, demonstrates how sport has acted as a catalyst in the breakdown of social barriers, and puts a face on the lives and times of two of the founding giants of the game.

This novel is built around the modern history of golf in Scotland, and the relationship between two of golf's most talented founding professionals, "Old Tom" and "Young Tom" Morris. The story, based on historical fact, takes us back to the mid-1800s and vividly describes the lives and times of a father and son who through their accomplishments became two of golf's most storied and honored figures.

The book also illustrates the pervasive social-class structure between the landed gentry who were the members of such golf clubs as the Royal and Ancient Golf Club at St. Andrews, and golf professional/greens-keepers who could only be workers and never members despite their level of accomplishment as players. This social dynamic is played out through the relationship of "Old Tom" and "Young Tom," as "Old Tom" always knew his place and "Young Tom" rebelled against the status quo. Over time however, as "gentlemen" (amateurs) and "players" (professionals) competed with one another, the game helped to narrow the gap between the social classes as the ethos of "we are all equal on the playing field and in the grave" helped to break down social barriers, at least in the sporting world. Through competition with the "gentlemen," "players" were able to demonstrate that they could adhere to the rules, and also exhibit one of the true characteristics of a gentlemen, fair play.

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