Finding Strath

Mike Clayton writes in The Age about Melbourne golfer Noel Terry and his discovery of David Strath's grave in Australia, solving one of golfs great mysteries.

Strath's golfing story is an interesting one. He was the rival and friend of the greatest player of the time, Young Tom Morris, who won the Open Championship four times in a row from 1868 to 1872 (there was no championship in 1871). The pair toured Scotland and as far south as Liverpool in England playing exhibition matches, sometimes in front of 10,000 people.

They were the superstars of their time and are credited with popularising the game. Strath was runner-up to Morris in the Open Championships of 1870 and 1872 and in 1876 he tied for the championship at St Andrews but refused to play off because of a rules dispute.

That Open was a shambles as someone had forgotten to book the golf course and players were competing amongst the regular public players. Strath's long approach to the 17th green had hit a spectator on the green and there were protests that he had somehow gained an advantage. He was asked to play off for the title with the undertaking that the question would be settled when an official was available to adjudicate.

Strath refused, reasoning there was little point if he was going to have the crown taken away in the following days.

"Settle it now or I won't be here in the morning" was his not-unreasonable request.