Stuart Murray (1933 – 2023)

Stuart Murray (1933 – 2023)


The PGA regrets to report that Stuart Murray, a former Scottish Amateur champion, Walker Cup player and Honorary Member, has passed away at the age of 89 following a short illness.

Stuart was elected to membership in 1963 and served two clubs – Northamptonshire and Hendon - before retiring 37 years later at the turn of the century.

Like a book’s cover, however, those stark details go nowhere near chronicling the achievements of a golfer who was as accomplished on the course as he was larger than life and generous with his time off it.

Born in Scotland in 1933, Stuart learned to play at Elderslie Golf Club near Paisley and earned the nickname ‘The Sheriff’ due to the way he went on to dominate the amateur game in the country.

So much so that, having won the 1962 Scottish Amateur Championship by defeating Ronnie Shade 2&1 in the final at Muirfield, he earned a place in the Great Britain and Ireland team that contested the Walker Cup at Turnberry a year later.

Shade, who won the Scottish Amateur Championship for the subsequent five years, was also in the Walker Cup team as was Sir Michael Bonallack, Stuart’s partner in the foursomes on the first morning.

The pair defeated Billy Joe Patton and Dick Sikes 4&3 and Stuart followed up with a 3&1 victory over the 1969 US Open runner up and four-time PGA Tour winner Deane Beman.

Day two marked a reversal of fortunes: Patton and Sikes avenged their defeat with a one-hole victory in the foursomes before the former prevailed in the singles, defeating Stuart 3&2.

Stuart turned professional shortly afterwards and began an eight-year spell working at Northamptonshire Golf Club. Within months, however, his new place of employment came close to earning a mention at one of golf’s most iconic venues – Augusta. Moreover, the club’s new pro had the chance to play there.

Bobby Jones, the grand slam major champion of 1930 and co-founder of the Masters four years later, had noted Stuart’s prowess as an amateur and invited him to play in the 1964 edition of the tournament.

“It was a huge surprise at the time,” Stuart reflected later. “Bobby Jones was a hero. Everybody of my era was brought up with the great Jones. I never thought I’d get a letter from him inviting me to the Masters.

“I knew right away I wouldn’t go. I’d just a bought a house and it was a hell of a long trip in those days. Goodness knows how much the flight would have cost … and I may have had to go by boat anyway. It’s the biggest regret I have in golf that I never got to go.”

Having turned pro, Stuart combined his club duties with attempts to qualify for elite level tournaments and, from 1972 onwards, events on the fledging European Tour.

Stuart had moved to Hendon Golf Club by then and former PGA Captain and fellow Scot Jim Farmer encountered him regularly in qualifiers that were staged on Mondays prior to a tournament.

“Stuart was a good solid player,” Farmer recalled. “He usually shot par or just under which was all you needed to qualify in those days.

“He loved the game and couldn’t stop playing, even when he was older. Then he played regularly in the Senior PGA Professional Championship and the Super 60s in its early days.

“And he was a joy to be with off the course. He was great fun, full of life, a real joker, a lovely guy and daft as a brush at times.”

The PGA Super 60s Championship was first contested in 1994 and Stuart and his amateur partner Joseph Dillane won it the following year, by which time he had established himself as an in-demand coach. Not least with PGA board member Lee Fickling, the current head pro at Crews Hill Golf Club, Enfield.

“I first encountered Stuart playing in the Middlesex Open,” Fickling recalled. “John Paramor, the doyen of golf referees was also playing with us, and Stuart won.

“At the time I hadn’t had a golf lesson in my life but, despite saying I should have won the tournament, Stuart said he’d fix my game with some coaching.

“So, I saved up some money and eventually went back to see him several weeks later. ‘What took you so long?’ he asked when I turned up.

“And when I explained I’d been saving up, he wouldn’t take a penny off me – for that lesson or all the others I had afterwards.

“He was a great coach and an even better person. He was great company and had a very dry sense of humour.

“I remember a woman coming up to him saying she wanted to get more distance with her four-iron. Not her three-iron or five-iron, just her four-iron. Stuart’s advice was to hit the ball harder! He’ll be greatly missed.”

Stuart was predeceased by his wife Phyllis, and is survived by his sons, Ian and Alastair.

The PGA extends heartfelt condolences to them and Stuart’s other family members and friends.


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