7, 8 The Links is a two-storey with attic, three-bay property with a shop at ground floor and a dwelling house above. It was largely designed by Archibald Downie and built by William Ness in 1882 (incorporating fabric from an earlier building of 1861). It is located opposite the 18th hole of the internationally renowned St Andrews Links Old Golf Course, and to the east of an irregularly arranged terraced run of townhouses, commercial properties and golf clubhouses of three or more storeys in height (9-18 The Links). The building was the home and business premises of the internationally recognised 'father of modern golf' Old Tom Morris.
It is constructed of squared and snecked rubble from locally sourced pale brown sandstone with ashlar skews and stop-chamfered margins. The shop (No.8) has a large three-pane window with a timber fascia above it. There are doors in the flanking bays, the door to left provides access to a pend to the rear and access to the house above (No.7). At the first floor, the centre bay breaks the eaves into a gablehead with a small window and shouldered skewputts. There is a tripartite central window with bipartite windows flanking.
There is a rear wing including a forestair and metal rail. The east gable of 1882 is of concrete over a timber beam, cantilevered out from the former garden wall. There is a masonry gate on the left to a pathway covered by a narrow pentice roof at the east gable. The concrete work was by Alex MacPherson.
The windows are of plate glazing in timber sash and case frames. There are tall and narrow coped ashlar chimney stacks with polygonal clay cans. The cast iron downpipes have ornamental rainwater hoppers. The roof has a grey slate covering.
The interior at No.8 includes a solid timber workbench in the window, exposed flagstone flooring (with club manufacturing strike marks) and an exposed masonry fireplace. There is also an early timber club locker (No.1) that is understood to have been Tom Morris's. The interior of the dwelling at 7 The Links has not been seen (2021) but is understood to retain woodwork fixtures and fittings of 19th and early 20th century character.
The building has a long and relatively complex history. The land here was first feued for housing in long narrow strips in around 1830. The building now known as 7, 8 The Links began in the 1830s as a single storey cartshed, located at the north end of the feu belonging to No 6 Pilmour Links (see separate listed building record, LB46271). Notably, the shed was sited opposite the 18th hole of St Andrews Old Golf Couse (established mid-18th century).
In 1832, the golf club and ball maker Hugh Philp (1782-1856) reconstructed the cartshed as a single-storey workshop with a piend roof. After Philp's death, it was briefly let to his successor Robert Forgan (1852-1900). The whole of the 6 Pilmour Links property was sold to Richard Bartholomew Child (1800-82) of Henley-on-Thames in 1861. The Philp workshop was rebuilt as a two-storey house and golf shop with a gabled roof in that year and then occupied by Child's son-in-law, the clubmaker, George Daniel Brown.
In 1866, the Pilmour Links property was bought by 'Old' Tom Mitchell Morris (16 June 1821- 24 May 1908) the internationally renowned championship golfer, course designer, greensman and club maker. Initially Morris and his family lived at the associated 6 Pilmour Links, with Brown's dwelling above the workshop becoming stock rooms. His rival maker, Robert Forgan (Golf Club Makers to the Prince of Wales) lived and worked next door (see Forgan House, The Links and 5 Pilmour Links, and The Old Course Shop, The Links, St Andrews, LB45570).
A watercolour of 1882 by Thomas Hodge shows that the building at 7, 8 The Links was two windows wide at first floor and had a pantiled roof (Walker, 2009). The ground floor (No. 8 The Links) was much as it looks now (2021) with a large three-pane window lighting the surviving timber work bench within and a shop door on the right. The dwelling on the first floor was entered by the forestair to the rear of the property at that time.
In 1882-3, Tom Morris, by then a widower, had the dwelling house at No.7 reconstructed. The first floor was extended to provide an additional bedroom and scullery. The house was then occupied by Tom Morris and his sons James Ogilvie Fairlie and John Morris, while the house to the south at 6 Pilmour Links was rebuilt for Tom Morrris's son-in-law James Hunter. Tom Morris was still recorded as a 'clubmaker' at 6 Pilmour Links in 1904. The feu associated with 6 Pilmour Links was divided into separate ownerships around the time of Morris's death in 1908.
In 1922 or shortly thereafter, a bathroom supported on concrete piers was added at the centre of the rear elevation, and in the late 1940s the lower section was enclosed within a single-storey wing providing additional workspace. The bathroom wing was extended again over its eastern side in 1998. The 1861 forestair with cast iron handrail still exists (2021).
The building is currently still in family ownership and the Tom Morris shop is sub-let (2021). The shop was renovated and refurbished by the St Andrews Links Trust in 2011. As part of the work, the early 20th century 'Tom Morris' signage, as evident on engravings and drawings of the period, was re-instated. The Tom Morris shop became 'The Open' in 2018. The lower lines of the early signage lettering, dating to around 1909, survive behind the present fascia. This signage reads: 'Champion Golfers 1861-62-64-67-68-69-70-72 / Established 1848 Unbroken Family Management'.
Statement of Special Interest
7, 8 The Links meets the criteria of special architectural or historic interest for the following reasons:
- For the interest and survival of its modest design features, with decorative central gable, retaining much of its mid-19th century character.
- As an early golf shop (and former golf workshop from 1831) that continues to operate as such (2021). It is considered the earliest continuously operating example in the world.
- For its contribution to its setting opposite the 18th hole of the world-renowned Old Course at St Andrews Links.
- As part of a group of historically significant listed buildings associated with the early history of golf in Scotland.
- For its close and well documented historic associations with Old Tom Morris - one of the most important names in the history of the modern game of golf, both in Scotland and internationally.
The architectural details and features, and how they have been used in the building's design, are of interest under this heading. The formation of a dwelling above the workshop (in 1861) was a practical decision by the owner, Richard Child, whose son-in-law ran the workshop. It also gave a view over the Old Course at St Andrews Links. This was of significance when Tom Morris purchased the property in 1866, as he was also the official Custodian of The Links for the Royal and Ancient Golf Club at that time and for the following 36 years. In 1882, Morris extended the building eastwards for his own occupation and that of his sons. The work at that time included the addition of the central gablehead with shouldered skewputts.
The plan form of the building has changed over time, including the creation of a double or 'M' pitch roof structure. This double pitch is relatively unusual for a building that forms part of a terrace and reflects the gradual development of the property by the Morris family during the 19th and early 20th century. The plan form is otherwise broadly typical for the building type. The simple character of the principal elevation has altered little since 1882.
Interior fixtures and fittings are of special interest under this heading. Surviving features relating to the early use of the building as a golf workshop include the heavy timber workbench in the window, the exposed flagstone flooring with golf club strike marks, and exposed masonry fireplace. These elements add to the design interest and authenticity of the building.
The building uses locally sourced pale brown sandstone, the treatment of which is not unusual in this context or location. While there is no technological or design innovation demonstrated in the design or later alterations to the building, 1882 is an early date for the use of concrete in this fashion.
The architect responsible for the design during the period of significant change (1866-82) is also of significance. Archibald Downie (1853-1939) was a local architect/builder in St Andrews during the 1880s. He was one of the original members of the St Andrews New Golf Club and a professional photographer with a studio in St Andrews. Downie made a special study of golf, becoming a pioneer in sports photography for newspapers (Dictionary of Scottish Architects). It is most likely Downie received the commission on account of his golfing associations and interests.
The building is largely complete and retains much of its 19th-century authenticity as an example of an early golf shop/workshop in an exceptionally important location.
The setting of the building contributes significantly to our understanding of its function and its historical context.
7, 8 Links Place is located directly opposite the 1st/18th hole of the historic St Andrews Links Old Course with views over St Andrews Links and out to sea. St Andrews Links is widely considered to be among the oldest and most important golf courses in the world and is recognised for its national importance on the Inventory of gardens and designed landscapes (GDL00344). It is of outstanding importance for its association with the development of golf in the 18th century, for its close association with 'Old' Tom Morris (1821-1908) in the 19th century, and for its influence on the design of later courses both in the UK and worldwide.
The modest, two storey, piended-roof form of 7, 8 Links Place contrasts with adjoining properties on The Links, most of which are tenement-style town houses, three or more storeys in height. The lower height at No 7, 8 reflects its history as one of the earliest buildings on the perimeter of the Old Course at St Andrews Links. The scale and proportions of the building reflect its commercial, retail and domestic development over time, its historic ownership and golfing connections, as well as its former ancillary relationship with No 6 Pilmour Links (LB46271).
The building's relationship with the landscape, including other buildings related to the development of St. Andrews as a golfing destination adds to the special interest under this heading. It is intervisible with the grand Royal and Ancient Clubhouse of 1854 with later addtions (LB40820, category A) to the north, and is one of a group of commercial and residential buildings recognised for their special architectural and historic interest including 12-18 The Links, Rusacks Hotel, Forgan House, 12-24 Golf Place, 2-4 Golf Place, and 1-2, 3, 6, 7, 16-18A, 19 Pilmour Links (see separate listings). Many famous golfers and golf manufacturers have been associated with these buildings over the years, either as owners or occupiers.
The proximity of the building to the course, its continuing function as a golf shop (and former workshop), and its well-documented associative interest with 'Old' Tom Morris and the Morris family provide special interest under this heading. The setting has changed little since the late 19th century.
Age and rarity
No 7, 8 The Links is considered to be the world's first golfing shop (Malcolm and Crabtree 2009, p.91) that also has been continuously in use as such. A golf club workshop was first established at this location in the early 1830s. It became a commercial golf shop and workshop when it was reworked and enlarged in 1861.
Golf shops are common throughout Scotland, some of which also initially incorporated a manufacturing workshop. However, 7, 8 The Links is set apart by its special interest as the earliest and most historically significant example. Part of its interest is the survival of the early workshop fixtures including the solid timber workshop bench beneath the shop window, the stone fireplace, the club manufacturing strike marks in the flagstone floor, and Tom Morris's No. 1 Locker; features that reflect the use and ownership of the building.
Among a small number of notable early listed examples of golf shops (former workshops) in Scotland is Simpson's at 6 Links Parade, Carnoustie (LB52160, listed at category B in 2014). Established in 1883, the Simpsons business is an integral part of Carnoustie's golfing history. Carnoustie is also famous for holding the Open Championship and has courses designed by Tom Morris and Allan Robertson of St Andrews.
Another early golf shop/workshop is The Old Course Shop, The Links, St Andrews (LB45570) which is located beside 7, 8 The Links. It was run by the largest of the St Andrews clubmakers (and Morris's direct rival) Robert Forgan and Sons. While this building was substantially altered and converted in 1999-2001 (by R Moir of Comprehensive Design) it retains elements of its former workshop plan including a reconstructed drying shed (for seasoning wood) and is listed at category C.
Within this context, the building at 7, 8 The Link is of special interest as an early golf shop (and former workshop) that retains its mid-19th century architectural character, with strong associations with important people and events in Scotland's golfing history, and with a continuous golf-related lineage dating back nearly 200 years.
Social historical interest
7, 8 The Links has strong associations with the development of the modern game of golf - a defining feature of the town of St. Andrews. The fabric of the building bears witness to a long history of interactions between golfers and tourists and manufacturers and retailers. It stands as part of a wider cultural landscape that emerged in response to the players and visitors who came to St Andrews in growing numbers in the second half of the 19th century, and which encompasses the golf course itself and nearby buildings such as the category A listed Royal and Ancient Clubhouse, early golf society club houses, hotels and other shops. The interest of the building with respect to the commercial and social development of golf in St Andrews during the 19th century is well documented and authenticated, both in surviving documentary and photographic evidence, and through numerous published manuscripts and biographies.
St Andrews is recognised by international golfers and historians as the cultural home of golf. The game has long and close ties to the people and society of St Andrews, with the town shaping the evolution of the modern game. Early versions of the game are known to have been played on St Andrews Links from at least the mid- 16th century. The right of the people of St Andrews to play golf on The Links was officially recognised in 1552. By 1691, the Regent of St Andrews described the town as "the metropolis of golfing". The popularity of golf in Scotland (and globally) increased significantly with improved transport and the availability of leisure time from the mid-19th century onwards.
Association with people or events of national importance
7, 8 The Links has close historical associations with a person that has had a significant impact on Scotland's cultural heritage. It is of international importance because of its links with one of the pioneers and founding fathers of the modern game of golf. Tom Morris (1821-1908) and the Morris family business played a significant role in the development of golf as a global sporting phenomenon.
Morris's house and shop are set opposite the 18th green and 1st tee of the Links Old Course for which he was greenkeeper and custodian for 40 years. The close historical association of the building with commercial and professional golfing is partially evident in the fabric, plan and design of the building. The alterations to the upper part of the building carried out between 1861 and 1883 reflect both the business and the residential association with Tom Morris.
Tom Morris began playing golf around the age of ten. In 1835 he was hired as an apprentice to the St Andrews golfer Allan Robertson, considered one of the first ever professional golfers and greatest players of his generation. Robertson contributed to improvements to St Andrews Links and owned a golf equipment-making business. Morris served nine years as apprentice and journeyman under Robertson. The two fell out in 1848 over the use of the new gutta percha golf ball (made from hardened tree sap). Morris set up his own business with a modest brick workshop further down The Links, becoming 'Tom Morris, 1848' (McStravick, p83).He was hired by the Prestwick golf club as greenkeeper in 1851, returning to St Andrews in November, 1864. Whilst in Prestwick, Tom Morris, his son Col. James Ogilvy Fairlie and the 13th Earl of Eglinton formulated and established 'The Open' championship by 1860.
Morris was one of a group of significant early golf club manufacturers in the St Andrews area (with both Allan Robertson and John Forgan as nearby neighbours). While the development of golf in St Andrews during the 19th century depended on more than any one individual, 'Old' Tom Morris has few peers as a figurehead in the early popularity of the game in Scotland, and in terms of developing the profession worldwide.
Morris worked as a greenkeeper, course architect, clubmaker, ballmaker and golf instructor, as well as playing and winning many matches and tournaments through a long and illustrious career. He came second in the first Open Championship in 1860, winning it the following year with further victories in 1862, 1864 and 1867. Morris also designed or advised on the remodelling of around 75 golf courses during his lifetime in Scotland, England, Wales and the Isle of Man.
Morris was known for his humility, reliability and knowledge of the game. He was also a great supporter of young golfing talent, with many youths keeping a locker at his workshop while they were too young to be members of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club. His son Tommy ('Young' Tom Morris) was a renowned professional player from an early age, winning the Open Championship title four times consecutively, retaining, for life, the 'Championship Belt' in 1870 when he was 19 years old. He also contributed significantly to the popularisation of the game. 'Young' Tom along with Old Tom's other sons James Ogilvy Fairlie (known as 'Jof') and John Morris all worked in the shop. Jof became the manager of the shop and John, who was disabled and was unable to walk, had an accessible route made between No 6 Pilmour Links and No 8 The Links.
The appointment of Morris as Custodian of the Links in 1864 ushered in a new era of course management at St Andrews. Often regarded as the father of modern greenkeeping, he remodelled and widened the fairways, used sharp sand to flatten the enlarged putting greens, championed the use of new mechanical cutting machines, and built two new greens (the New and Jubilee) on The Links, all of which helped spread out play and improve turf conditions.
Highly respected within the international golfing community during his own lifetime, his achievements have left an indelible mark on the game. Today, his portrait hangs in thousands of golf club houses around the world.
Category of listing changed from C to A and listed building record revised in 2021.