Sunday, 26 December 2010

Mick Morcom

 
The 5th at Royal Melbourne (Scaletti) 


I enjoyed a wonderful trip to Australia that included visits to see eight of the Sandbelt courses. One of the interesting aspects of the courses is how many of the courses have striking similarities between the bunkers and the green sites.
 
Mackenzie’s influence on Australia is undeniable, but as Neil Crafter pointed out to us, almost all the work attributed to “Mackenzie” happened after he had departed. We know that Mackenzie spent a great deal of time with both Alex Russell and Mick Morcom. We know that Mackenzie was very complimentary of both Russell (whom he went into partnership with) and Morcom whom he said "....The Royal Melbourne Golf Club have the goood fortune to have the best greenkeeper I have come across in Britain, America or Australia - a man named Morcom - and I managed to persuade most of the golf clubs in Australia to secure his services for the purpose of helping them in their construction work. Morcom has not only read, but has studied every book he could possibly get hold of on the subject of golf course construction and greenkeeping , and has been in constant touch with the Greens Section of the United States Golf Association, who have done so much good in greenkeeping in America and other countries." 
The 5th from 1933 after Morcom built the hole for Mackenzie 


Mick Morcom was Head Greenkeeper at RM from 1905-1935. That prior to Mackenzie's visit, he was already held in high regard and had done much of the construction work on the original "Sandringham" course. Mick had also done a significant amount of consulting work before Mackenzie’s arrival, which included course design, modifications and construction work at other clubs. He was also the main source of agronomy advice for golf courses throughout the state.
 

10th at Kingston Heath (Scaletti) 

Vern Morcon worked under his father at RM when Mackenzie arrived. He may or may not have joined Mackenzie, Russell and his own father as they did the routing. On Mackenzie's recommendation, KH appointed Mick to construct their bunkering, but it was his son Vern who did most of the work. Mick visited periodically to give guidance while Vern worked full-time on-site managing the work. Vern was eventually appointed Head Greenkeeper at KH, and served in that role from 1928-1967. 
Mick and Vern ran a consultancy business together until Mick's death in 1937 after which Vern continued the business on his own until passing away in 1972. Between the two of them, they are known to have work on more than 80 courses and gave greenkeeping advice to many more. On the Sandbelt alone, they did construction or design work at each of the following courses:
 
Royal Melbourne
Kingston Heath
Commonwealth
Victoria
Metropolitan
Yarra Yarra
Kingswood
Sandringham Municipal Golf Course
Spring Valley
 
I’m not sure how much Mick Morcom is responsible for what I have seen, but I’m quite convinced that it is his skill and talent that I concentrated upon with most of my notes. I quickly give credit to Soutar, Apperley and Mackenzie for the routing and strategy, since Morcom’s work does not suggest that this was his strength. But I do think that all those architects (and current ones) owe a debt to Nick Morcom’s technique and skill in construction for how it’s shaped the face of Australian Golf Design.

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