Mondays With Murray: Course of Courses




Course of Courses

AUGUSTA – O.K., fellows, this is the Masters. This is not the Heliotrope Open, the Greater Gastonia One-putt, the Coughing Hills Open — or even the Cough Syrup Four-ball, or the Kelly’s Beer and Ale Invitational, or even Clancy’s Bar & Grill.

This is not the Edsel Open or the Good Heavens Round-robin, or the Sahara mondaysmurray2Desert Open. This is a golf course, not a palm tree and a putting green. You might need all 14 sticks in the bag on this track.

This wasn’t filmed last August in three days from the back of a truck with pauses for the oil commercial. This isn’t a pitch-and-putt disguised as a 72-hole tournament. They don’t have to chase off the camels or pipe in the water on this course. The hazards were put there by God. Or by the devil, if you listen to the players.

You have to be a player here, not a scraper. You have to have a backswing, not a chop. Butchers need not apply. It’s nice if you can putt but not conclusive.

It might rain. It could even snow. The trees are not held there by wire, they’re held there by roots.

If you can’t approach a green like a player, don’t count on making it up with long putts. If you don’t drop your ball where it ought to be, you might be putting till dark.

The guys you’ll be playing with will be famous names in golf, not in banking, business or used cars. This is no pro-am. Movie stars need not apply. You don’t come to get Snead’s autograph, you come to get Snead.

You win this thing and you’re the equivalent of a .400 hitter in baseball. You not only don’t win it if you’re not good, you don’t even get in it.

You got to hit the ball over lakes, through trees, under the wind, over the hills and sometimes out of the mud. The good players come into this smiling, the bad ones, with their teeth clenched. If you can’t really play the damn game, you ought not to try to qualify. You might be shown up.

A fellow could get an 80 around here. And plenty have. There are some courses on the winter tour, you couldn’t get an 80 with a rake and a hoe.

The living room carpet is tough to putt on compared to some golf courses. A sheet of ice is easy, compared to some of Augusta’s.

They name the holes innocently. The “White Pine” is the 1st. “The Flowering Peach” is the 3rd. No. 8 is called “Yellow Jasmine.” Just rolls around on your tongue, don’t it, honey?


They ought to call them the “Shoot Yourself,” “Let’s See You Laugh, Now” holes. The “Go Back Home and Learn the Damn Game” hole. The “My God, What Did I Do Wrong?” hole.

What sadist ever called the 14th the “Chinese Fir” hole? It’s the Chinese water torture hole.

You can’t get around with a 1-iron, 7-iron and a putter. You can’t get around with a cane and a caddy. You might try lifting weights instead of lifting drinks, if you got to play here. Turn off the phone at 9 o’clock at night. Eat sensibly because you might want to throw up at some places your ball lands.

The “Carolina Cherry” hole might not be so sweet. The “Red Bud” hole might be the “Red Neck” hole.

You win it, you’re here forever. Ben Hogan is in the field. Damn few tournaments nowadays can make that statement. More’s the pity. Cary Middlecoff is here even though he had trouble breaking 90 last year. No one laughed. It can happen in the Masters.

Tony Lema saves his choicest shots for this one. Tommy Bolt, his choicest curses.

This is the high stakes poker game of golf. But you better have aces. You don’t lick your chops, you lick your lips. Swallowing comes hard when you tee it up because a bad mistake doesn’t mean you can back it up, it means you pack it up.

Nobody’s ever won it twice in a row. Lots of guys will never win it once in a row.

You wouldn’t like to see the World Series in Griffith Park, would you? Like to see Mantle bat against Koufax in a clothes closet? Like to see Wilt Chamberlain have at a five-foot basket?

Of course not. Then, let’s see golfers have at a test of golf.

Tee it up, men. And protect yourselves at all times. The three-knockdown rule has been waived. This is for the Championship.

This is the Masters. Fore!


Reprinted with the permission of the Los Angeles Times

Jim Murray Memorial Foundation P.O. Box 661532, Arcadia, CA 91066


The Jim Murray Memorial Foundation’s mission is to establish a permanent legacy to Jim Murray. The JMMF has joined forces with the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. The National Baseball Hall of Fame and MLB share significant and timeless overlapping history with Jim Murray. Jim Murray wrote more columns on baseball than he wrote on any other sport, bringing baseball’s history and legends to life through sports journalism.

The JMMF will continue its “Mondays with Murray” posts indefinitely with a link to the Cooperstown Baseball Hall of Fame website supporting its new Jim Murray initiative. The JMMF will dissolve its 501(c)(3) status and distribute its remaining financial assets to the Hall of Fame.

Baseball Hall of Fame non-profit 501(c)(3) #15-0572877

Preserving History. Honoring Excellence. Connecting Generations.|


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