Murphy to tee off as USGA president, oversee centennial celebration

November 21, 1993|By John W. Stewart | John W. Stewart,Staff Writer

Reg Murphy, whose exposure to the United States Golf Association has been relatively brief but most enthusiastic, has been nominated to serve a one-year term as the organization's next president.

Nomination is tantamount to election, as nothing short of a major in-house insurrection could side track this annual "railroad" performance. With the president eligible to serve two consecutive one-year terms, it is likely Murphy will be in the No. 1 position until January 1996.

The timing could not have been more perfect, because Murphy will be president during golf's centennial year (1995), and he is chairman of the USGA's centennial planning committee.

Among planned events are a kickoff dinner in December 1994 with many past and present stars; a book that celebrates 100 years of golf; a film put together by David Wolper; reunions of champions at each of the 1995 national championships; and the involvement of nearly 8,000 member clubs and courses, some with tournaments, some with commemorative events.

Among the clubs holding national championships will be Caves Valley Golf Club and Woodholme CC (Mid-Amateur) and Congressional CC (Senior Open).

"Actually," Murphy says, "we want a celebration by as many of the 25 million golfers as want to participate."

For years, the average golfer's perception of the USGA was of an elitist group of moneyed executives showing up for the major championships, and handing down rulings as though from on high. More recently, though, as personnel have changed, and the work load increased, the image of the entire organization appears to have improved.

Murphy has been a part of this, rising quickly through the committee ranks. In fact, he has gone from knowing little about the USGA to being its next president in the space of five years.

"I was neither a great player nor as involved in the game as the thousands of volunteers," Murphy said recently. "I come from rural southern stock. Obviously, nobody in our family played golf -- never even thought about playing.

"That's the genius of the game: It allows everybody from every socioeconomic background to participate."

Murphy's involvement with the USGA began when he served as general chairman for the U.S. Women's Open, held in 1988 at Baltimore Country Club. Not long after, he was nominated for the Executive Committee, and things sort of mushroomed from there. He has served as a vice president the past three years.

A former publisher of the Atlanta Constitution, San Francisco Examiner and The Baltimore Sun, Murphy recently was named executive vice president of the National Geographic Society.

Other USGA officers nominated for one-year terms are Judy Bell, Colorado Springs, Colo., and Ronald Daniel, New York, as vice presidents; Morgan Taylor, Hobe Sound, Fla., as secretary; and Gerald Stahl, Rochester, N.Y., as treasurer.

Seven others on the 16-member Executive Committee have been renominated, and four more have been nominated for a first term. In the former group are Richard Bennett, Anoka, Minn.; David Boyd, Atlanta; Thomas Chisholm, Southfield, Mich.; James Curtis, Seattle; Trey Holland, Zionsville, Ind.; Reed Mackenzie, Minneapolis, Minn.; and John Merchant, Fairfield, Conn. The newcomers include former champions Fred Ridley (Amateur), Tampa, Fla.; and Carol Semple Thompson (Women's Amateur), Sewickley, Pa., plus Peter James, Pacific Palisades, Calif.; and Richard Stroud, Santa Clara, Calif.

Murphy would succeed Stuart Bloch, Wheeling, W. Va., who will complete a second term in January.

Mann remembered

The local golf community lost one of its biggest supporters with the passing of Louis "Rip" Mann at the age of 83 last week.

He was an "unforgettable character," one who enjoyed golf for the sheer pleasure of playing the game, and was blessed with a wonderful sense of humor that enabled him to enjoy it.

An annual tournament to be held in his memory at Baltimore Country Club is in the planning stage.

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