In the heart of the St. Andrews Cemetery, just a few short steps from the resting place of Allan Robertson and Old Tom Morris, lies an unassuming gravestone with quite a story to tell.
The stone was laid in honor of David Anderson, an infant child who died in 1863. Resting within the same burial plot, however, are two men who figured prominently in the history of The Home of Golf.
The first was young David’s father, Jamie Anderson. There was a time when few would have questioned Jamie’s standing as the greatest golfer in the world. Beginning in 1877, the St. Andrews native won the Open Championship three years running, taking home the Claret Jug from Musselburgh, Prestwick, and The Old Course. He also served as a role model of sorts for a young player from nearby Elie, who went on to surpass the greatness of his hero by a healthy margin. That young golfer was 5-time Open Champion, James Braid.
In addition to Jamie and little David, a third generation of the Anderson family lies beneath this modest stone. Jamie’s father, David Sr. – affectionately known as “Auld Da” – worked as a club and featherie ball maker, and briefly took on the job of Keeper of the Green after Old Tom Morris moved to Prestwick. He’s best known, however, for the cart he manned on the Old Course selling Ginger Beer, or perhaps something stronger, to golfers in the midst of their rounds. Some might say Anderson’s cart was golf’s first Halfway House, and the 4th hole on the Old Course is named “Ginger Beer” in his honor.
So how is it that a three-time Open Champion and someone with their name basically on the Old Course scorecard are both laid to rest in an unmarked grave?
In the years following his Open triumphs, Jamie’s life took an unfortunate downward spiral. A possible preoccupation with alcohol and failing health eventually landed him in the local poorhouse, where he lived out the rest of his days far removed from the glory he achieved on the links. When Auld Da passed away in 1901, Jamie had him buried in the same lair as his son David, but either never got around to placing a headstone or, perhaps more likely, could not afford one. A few years later, Jamie was also unceremoniously laid to rest in the family plot without any kind of marker.
They deserve better.
After obtaining approvals from both the Anderson family and the powers that be in St. Andrews, a crowdfunding campaign has been launched to place a stone in honor Jamie and Auld Da. Led by Roger McStravick, noted historian and author of the book St. Andrews: In the Footsteps of Old Tom Morris, details on the initiative can be found by clicking the banner below.
In this season of giving, we know there’s an abundance of causes in need of valuable support. But for those who share our passion for golf, its history, and the game across the pond, the opportunity to help make an impact on all three doesn’t come around all that often.