USGA to put Murphy at top post

January 22, 1994|By John W. Stewart | John W. Stewart,Staff Writer

Reg Murphy will cap a meteoric rise through the ranks of the United States Golf Association when he is installed as its 53rd president tonight in Scottsdale, Ariz.

With nomination tantamount to election, the USGA will make this process a formality during its annual meeting at the Scottsdale Princess Hotel.

Murphy, 60, and a Baltimore resident for the past dozen years, first as the publisher of The Baltimore Sun, and now executive vice president of the National Geographic Society, was not born to USGA hierarchy.

Unlike his early predecessors, mostly Easterners who were steeped in the history and tradition of the game, Murphy's roots are in rural Georgia and a family that never picked up a golf club.

And, unlike many of his predecessors who spent a lifetime devoted to the game and served on a myriad of committees before their presidency, Murphy ascended to one of golf's most prestigious positions in five years.

He came to the attention of USGA officials during his service as general chairman of the U.S. Women's Open, held at Baltimore Country Club in 1988, and things sort of mushroomed from there. He was elected to the USGA's Executive Committee in 1989 and has served as a vice president for the past three years.

Joining him as officers will be Judy Bell, Colorado Springs, Colo., and Ronald Daniel, New York, vice presidents; Morgan Taylor, Hobe Sound, Fla., secretary; and Gerald Stahl, Rochester, N.Y., treasurer. The outgoing president is Stuart Bloch, Wheeling, W.Va.

All are to be elected for one-year terms, with each eligible for re-election for one more year. Thus it is likely all will play important roles in planned Centennial Year (1995) celebrations.

"Becoming president of the USGA is both an honor and a challenge," Murphy said.

"It is an honor to 'preserve and protect the game.' It is a challenge to begin the observance of the 100th birthday with the proper dignity and respect."

In this country, the USGA oversees a game that thrives on order and courtesy, but Murphy sees an erosion in these ideals and wants to do something about it.

"We dare not let this wonderfully civil game fall to the level of a society which cuts corners at best and turns violent at worst," he said. "The shouted curses at officials, the assaults on competitors, the deliberate downgrading of acceptable dress, the disrespect for the rules of the game -- all an infection in American society as well as in sports."

The incoming president said he will challenge USGA volunteers to begin a crusade to improve, among other things, etiquette, a promotion of the game's traditional values, and perhaps most importantly, to join forces with those who believe the environment must be protected at all costs.

In Murphy's opinion, this attention to the environment will enable the USGA to have a joyous 200th birthday party.

No. 100 has been Murphy's pet project for several years. Shortly after his election to the executive committee, Murphy became chairman of the Centennial Committee. The yearlong celebration will be the highlight of his administration.

Among the things in the works are a kickoff dinner for the heroes of the game; a movie put together by David Wolper, a book, and the honoring of past champions at each of the organization's 13 championships.

Maryland will hold two of the championships -- the Men's Mid-Amateur at Caves Valley GC and Woodholme CC, and the Senior Open at Congressional CC in Bethesda.

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