Old Tom MorrisAlmost every golfer has at one point during a round heard the dreaded plop as the ball lands in the drink. Now, it may seem a little bit drastic but divers, in County Donegal, Northern Ireland, have gone to the extreme of getting on the diving gear to go searching for some golf balls in Lough Salt, near Kilmacrenan. However they’re not just any old golf balls, well they are old, but what makes them special is that they are rumoured to have been hit there by golfing legend Old Tom Morris. The man not only racked up the title of Open Champion a total of four times during the 1860’s, but he was also one of the men responsible for its existence in the first place.

Local divers have begun the search for what are believed to be some of the rarest and most sought after golf balls in the world. How did they get there? Legend has it that Old Tom Morris smacked around 20 golf balls into the lake whilst he was taking a well deserved break from designing Rosapenna Golf Course in 1891. The man of many talents only worked on three courses in Ireland (Lahinch and Royal County Down the other two) as he spent most of his career working his magic touch on some of the best layouts Scotland has to offer such as Prestwick, Muirfield and The Jubilee Course at St Andrews.

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Tens of thousands of golf balls have managed to find their way to the bottom of the lake since. Driving a ball into the lake has become somewhat of a tradition for golfers on their way home from a round at Rosapenna, they are able to emulate the great man by hitting a drive into the lake. The balls in question are “gutta percha” (but often referred to as “gutties”) they were designed way back in the 1840s, comparably different with balls of today’s standards; they should stand out at the bottom of the lake.

These balls are worth more than their weight in gold and are probably the most sought after in the world, made even more so with the Old Tom Morris connection. Estimated to be worth £20,000 each, there could be a potential of £400,000 worth lying at the bottom of the lake. Unfortunately however searching for the balls is far from easy. Guy O’Driscoll, the lead diver on the expedition explains that “It really is like looking for a needle in a haystack but if we find the golf balls it’ll be well worth the effort.”

Following his first visit to the area, Morris was struck by the quality of the ‘golfing canvas’ of Rosapenna, and before he returned home he staked out the guidelines for his superb creation.

If the divers do manage to find the proverbial needle in the haystack then they have kindly agreed to donate to the Rosapenna Golf Course as they’re Old Tom Morris’ link with the County of Donegal. I’m sure that if they manage to return the balls to their rightful home there’s no doubt that Old Tom Morris would have approved.