24th February 2023
Stuart William Thomas Murray died on 23rd January 2023 at the age of 89 following a short illness.
Murray was born in Paisley, Scotland on 10th November 1933, the middle of three brothers, and learned to play golf at the nearby Elderslie Golf Club. By the time he was 18 he had already won the club championship and played county golf.
He earned the nickname ‘The Sheriff’ from his peers due to a distinctive “cowboy-like” rolling gait, the result of a broken leg playing football during National Service, and his consistently strong play in the amateur game in the 1950s and early ‘60s.
Murray was very much a part-time golfer working for John Letters, the golf club manufacturer, after he finished school.
He represented Scotland in the Home Internationals five years running (1959-63) and picked up the prestigious West of Scotland Championship, Tennant Cup and the Edward Trophy titles in his amateur career.
Stuart successfully represented GB&I in the St. Andrews Trophy, contributing to wins in against Europe in France in 1958 and Sweden in 1962.
Having lost in the Final the year before he won the Scottish Amateur Championship in 1962 defeating Ronnie Shade 2&1 in the final at Muirfield. Shade would go onto win this Championship in each of the next five years.
Stuart Murray is carried off Muirfield after winning the Scottish Amateur
The victory helped earn Stuart selection for the 1963 GB&I Walker Cup team.
USA won the match at Turnberry by 12-8 but Stuart made a positive contribution, particularly on the opening day when it rained heavily. Paired with Michael Bonallack in the Foursomes they beat Billy Joe Patton and Richard Sikes by 4&3. Murray then beat Deane Beman 3&1 in the opening game of the afternoon Singles. On a drier Day 2 the same foursomes pairings played again and this time the Americans prevailed by 1 Hole. Murray then lost to Patton in the Day 2 Singles by 3&2.
Approaching 30 years old Stuart turned professional a few months after the Walker Cup pushed to a degree by changes in the amateur status rules. For 37 years he was attached to the Northamptonshire (1963-72) and Hendon (1972-2000) Golf Clubs in England. During this time he became a highly sought after teacher.
In early 1964 he received an invitation from Bobby Jones to play in that year’s Masters. “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.”
Murray combined his club duties with attempts to qualify for elite level tournaments and, from 1972 onwards despite entering his 40’s, events on the newly created European Tour. He also played regularly in the Senior PGA Professional Championship and for a few years the PGA Super 60s which started in the early 1990’s.
Stuart was predeceased by his wife Phyllis, who he married in 1957, and is survived by his sons, Iain and Alastair.
Additional Sources: The PGA Obituary, Jack Davidson’s Obituary in The Scotsman and Nick Rodger’s Obituary in The Herald
Copyright © Mark Eley. All rights reserved.