These are blink-and-you’ll-miss-‘em times. The constant churn of players coming from the amateur game into the professional ranks clatters and clanks away like an industrial conveyor belt spewing out munitions for the war effort.

But there was an age, of course, when the career amateur was king as established faces and hardy perennials burnished the unpaid scene with a level of competition, achievement and camaraderie that is unlikely to be witnessed again.

Gordon Murray, who has sadly passed away, was one of many who flourished in that lively, heavily populated environment. “It was a golden era really,” reflected Ian McCosh, that great authority of golfing goings-on in Murray’s parish of Renfrewshire.


In this “golden era” Murray enjoyed plenty of silver linings with a period of pomp and prosperity that brought bountiful rewards.

Never one to see eye-to-eye with golfing officialdom, however, Murray’s frank, outspoken personality didn’t sit well with some of the more strait-laced, unyielding elements of authority.

“You have to keep in with the selectors and Gordon wasn’t one to toe the line,” said McCosh. “That cost him a few Scotland caps, there’s no doubt about that. But they had to put him in because he was dominating the Scottish amateur golf scene.”

Murray was a dab hand at letting his clubs do the talking, though. His prodigious driving off super-high tees became the stuff of local legend. “They were the highest tees I’d ever seen,” said McCosh, no doubt echoing the sentiments of many who witnessed them.

Those particular tools of his trade were just about as renowned as his golfing accomplishments. And there were plenty of them to boast about.


Murray beat Sandy Pirie by a 2&1 margin in the final of the Scottish Amateur Championship at Western Gailes in 1974 and lifted the national title again in 1976 with a 6&5 romp over Hugh Stuart at the Old Course.

Sandwiched in between those wins was a hefty defeat to the colourful David Greig in the 1975 final. “Davie scorched the notion of water and bananas and for lunch he had two pints of heavy and two pies,” recalled McCosh with a smile.

In 1977, Fereneze member Murray made his one and only appearance in the Walker Cup for GB&I in a team that also featured a young Sandy Lyle. In 1983, he landed the Scottish Open Strokeplay crown while his considerable roll of honour also included a dozen or so other 72-hole wins on the domestic front.

“Gordon had a huge appetite for the game,” added McCosh. “He would often stand over a putt with a smile on his face. He obviously fancied holing it and he would hover over it with a wee smirk.

“He was great to play with and very encouraging. If you done something well, he’d go out his way to congratulate you.

“It was a great amateur scene in those days and Gordon was a hugely popular part of that with the likes of Ian Hutcheon, Hugh Stuart, Charlie Green, George Macgregor and so on. The standard of golf was formidable too. Back then you had to be a one-handicapper to get into the Ralston Rosebowl. Nowadays, seven or eight will get in.

“They were all great characters. Someone like me was playing to make up the field but it was great to be part of that fabulous competition during those years. We’ll never see the likes of it again.”