Back in ye day, the amateur game enjoyed an age so golden, the fixture list could have been pinned up in a bullion vault. In this vibrant scene of tremendous competition, colourful characters and enduring camaraderie, Stuart Murray, who has passed away at the age of 89, was a mighty figure.

“He was golfing royalty,” said his great friend, Dan Edgar.

When the tall and sturdy Murray was crowned Scottish Amateur champion at Muirfield in 1962 with a fine victory over the formidable Ronnie Shade, he was hoisted aloft on the shoulders of the spectators and carted off the links in triumph while accompanied by a bagpiper blawin’ a jubilant skirl.

In an era of well-kent golfing gunslingers, Elderslie member Murray emerged triumphant from numerous shoot-outs and showdowns with a prolific haul of silverware. His bountiful conquests, particularly in and around his local parish, earned him the nickname The Sheriff … because he cleared up in the west. “I don’t think it’s been truly recognised just how good he was,” added Edgar.

A year after that Scottish Amateur Championship victory – he had also lost in the final in 1961 – Murray represented GB&I in the Walker Cup at Turnberry, where he partnered the great Michael Bonallack in the foursomes.

“Stuart and the rest of the team got a blazer, a pair of slacks and a tie,” said Edgar. “They got to keep the tie but they had to have the slacks and blazer dry cleaned before returning them. The times have changed a bit.”

Due to a reinterpretation of rules surrounding amateur status, Murray, who worked as a sales representative for John Letters, turned professional towards the end of 1963 at the age of 29. The following year, while working as a club pro at Northamptonshire Golf Club, an eye-opening envelope dropped through the letterbox. It was an invitation to Murray from Grand Slam winner and Masters co-founder Bobby Jones to compete at the Augusta showpiece of 1964.

Speaking to this correspondent a few years ago, Murray reflected on this startling summons.

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

Upon turning pro, The Herald golf correspondent at the time suggested that Murray’s “hard hitting style and aggressive, confident putting should soon carve for him a generous slice of a continuously growing cake”.

Having moved to Hendon Golf Club, where he would serve for 30 years, Murray combined his duties in the pro shop with competition on a variety of fronts. In 1965, he ended Peter Alliss’ domination of the Strong Country Tournament with an emphatic 10-shot victory.

“He also played Pro-Ams with Sean Connery,” added Edgar. The Sheriff meets 007? It would have been a nice addition to the Bond franchise.

Murray was nearly 40 by the time the official European Tour came into being in 1972 but he would give the pre-qualifiers a whirl in a bid to get his sizeable paws on some of that aforementioned cake.

“He loved the game and couldn’t stop playing, even when he was older,” said his compatriot Jim Farmer, the honorary professional of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club.

Murray’s competitive longevity was underlined at the age of 60 when he qualified for the fledgling European Seniors Tour. Back then, seniors golf was a potential gravy train that was just beginning to pull out of the sidings. For Murray, it was another case of what might have been. “I was born 30 years too early and missed out when the tours grew,” he said.

Nevertheless, Murray enjoyed a rich and fulfilling golfing life.

“He was a true gentleman and it was a privilege to call him a friend,” said Edgar. Many in Scottish golfing circles and beyond will echo those sentiments about The Sheriff.