Feature Interview with Melvyn Hunter Morrow

March 2012

For those who are not familiar, please take us through your genealogy.

I thought we had the full Family Tree going back until 1649, until I received an e-mail about a year ago from a Morris living in Australia who had traced his side of the family back to the early 1700 to a certain John Morris (Old Tom’s great grandfather) who married Janet Robertson in 1744. He advised me that Janet Robertson’s father was a certain ball maker who lived in St Andrews. Apparently, the great grandfather to a certain Allan Robertson who was a golfing
Professional, Featherie ball maker and one of the earliest recorded golf course Designers and also to a certain Thomas Mitchell Morris. It would appear that my family’s earliest known connection to golf is via John Morris and Janet Robertson circa 1744. However, my direct blood line is via the Morris side as can be seen in part, by a section of the following Morris Family Tree.

The family association with golf, I suppose, really starts with Old Tom’s (Thomas Mitchell Morris) older brother George Morris who is credited with work at Carnoustie and more famously, Hoylake (Royal Liverpool). His son, Jack, continued the design work by producing quite a few courses in the Liverpool region.

Next, we have my great, great grandfather Old Tom Morris, not forgetting Young Tommy and his younger brother JOF Morris who shined although, alas, not as brightly as his elder brother Tommy.

My linage as all surviving family members relating back to Old Tom, is through Elizabeth (Young Tommy’s sister). Elizabeth married into the Hunter family of Prestwick, to a certain James Hunter who was Young Tommy’s best friend and a gifted golfer in his own right. James Hunter and Elizabeth on their Honeymoon, travelled to Quebec prior to settling in Darien although he worked in Mobile. While in Quebec James is credited with suggesting the formation of what became Royal Quebec G C, returning 6 months later once the course had been built to become their first Champion.

James prior to his early death (by drowning at Mobile) had brought out two of his brothers (Robert & John) to assist in his successful lumber business and it was during this time in the early 1880’s, that the brothers designed and built a golf course at Darien (alas I am told now under a school). For more information on The Hunters in the USA see the following link

Robert after the death of James, was apparently known as the Father of golf at Mobile. James Hunter was also cousin to Charlie Hunter who trained and ultimately took over at Prestwick from Old Tom when he returned to St Andrews. Charlie to is credited with many designs from Machrihanish, Prestwick and Prestwick St Nicholas to name a few. One of James’ daughters, my great aunt Agnes married one Willie Rusack (from the Hotel chain both in Germany and St Andrews). He was at one time the Eden Course (St Andrews) record holder, and course designer mainly in Germany (pre WW2).

My father was a swimming Champion and Record holder for Scotland, training in Dundee and the Old Step Rock Pool located behind The Golfing Museum in St. Andrews. He followed his father into the jute business becoming a Consultant (and was also a fair golfer). Dying young on the 1st Fairway of a golf course near Jos, in Nigeria. My Uncle was not a sportsman but played golf more in later years, and was a Member of The R&A. He was a successful Charted Accountant with many business around the world, earning a knighthood for saving Rolls Royce in the early 1970’s.

Where did you grow up?

My father was born and bred in St Andrews. In fact he lived in Old Tom’s house at 6 Pilmour Links. By then it was The Hunter House inherited through my grandmother, Jamesina (Old Tom granddaughter) who married T G Morrow. TG was the best friend of Bruce Hunter who was Old Toms grandson who inherited the Golf  Shop.

Like my grandfather, TG, my own father worked in the Jute Industry although based at Dundee. He undertook 2-3 year contracts working overseas, mainly India now known as Bangladesh. My father did not want his son born in India (as this was the time of the partition India/ Pakistan East & West) so my mother travelled home for my birth.

My early years were a mix match of time spent in India, East Pakistan and Brazil. My first language was Portuguese and not English, but by the time I returned to St Andrews for schooling, I was speaking English.

We lived in the Fifties in St Andrews just past the old castle on The Scores, a couple of houses down from my great uncle, Great Uncle Tom (not to be confused with Old Tom) who owned the Turret House (see photo) facing the ruined castle.

By the late 1950’s/1960’s we lived off the Hepburn Gardens in Ladebraes Walk. By the mid-sixties we had moved to Northern Ireland and I attended boarding school at The Royal School at Dungannon. Leaving school, I followed my father into the Jute Industry before seeking new horizons in design and engineering by the early seventies.

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