Obituary: Finlay Morrison, 100

Finlay Morrison
Finlay Morrison
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A well-known and popular golfer has passed away at a nursing home in the Capital at the age of 100.

Finlay Morrison played in the Open five times in a professional career that saw him tee off against some of the biggest names in the game.

He was born in Kyles Scalpay on the Isle of Harris in October 1914. His father, Kenneth, was a shepherd who worked abroad in Patagonia on four-year contracts, which explains the symmetry of his family.

Every time Kenneth came back to Harris he found he had fathered another child. Finlay was the youngest of a family of four, his siblings being four, eight and 12 years older than him.

Kenneth eventually secured work at the Rosyth dockyard and the family moved away from Harris to Burntisland in Fife when Finlay was three.

It was here that he and his brother Murdo first picked up a golf club. After school they earned some pocket money by caddying at the local club.

By 1939 he was playing professionally but like so many other sport stars his career was stalled by the outbreak of the Second World War.

When the war ended in 1945, Finlay started as a greenkeeper/golf professional at Leuchars before moving to Glamorganshire GC in Wales. He moved back to Scotland as the resident pro in Elgin, moving to Deeside after a few years and to Braid Hills in the Capital before settling at Bruntsfield Links, where he worked for 11 years until he retired in 1981.

A native Gaelic speaker, Finlay was very proud of the fact that this made him unique in the professional ranks.

His best result in competition was runner-up in the Welsh Open in 1952, where he picked up a cheque for £80. In those days when most working men were taking home a single figure weekly pay packet this was significant prize money.

The list of professional golfers he befriended during his career reads like a Who’s Who of the game – Gary Player, Byron Nelson, John Panton, Eric Brown, Sam Torrance, Nick Faldo and Vijay Singh among others.

In his 90s, Finlay was regularly scoring in the low 80s in medals at Bruntsfield.

After retiring, he turned his hand to designing golf courses, including the stunning Isle of Harris course at Scarista on his native island.

In 2009, Finlay was given the inaugural John Panton Lifetime Achievement award by the PGA to recognise his services to the game. At the age of 95 he delivered a word-perfect speech to an audience of more than 600 people in a Glasgow hotel, including Peter Aliss and Paul Lawrie.

Finlay lost his wife Mary a few years before he retired and the clubhouse at Bruntsfield became his second home.

He is survived by his daughter Catherine and son Kenneth, two granddaughters, Katrine and Sara and three great-grandchildren, Breagha, Anders and Mikel.