Former French Open Golf and Australian PGA Championship winner, Alan Murray from Sydney, Australia passed away peacefully on Friday in Perth, Western Australia after a long battle with cancer.
Alan joined the Australian PGA in 1958 and went on to forge an illustrious playing career in professional golf with over 78 PGA tournament victories around the world, including the 1962 French Open, 1961 Australian PGA Championship and 3 Rolex Masters in Singapore.
Alan later moved on to become a world renowned golf coach and relocated to Singapore in 1972 where Alan became the Head Professional at the prestigious Singapore Island Country Club and in 1973 was the Co- Founder, Former President and Life Member of the Singapore Professional Golfers Association.
In later years Alan founded the Champions Golf Academy which is based in Singapore.
Alan was also honoured with Life Membership of the PGA of Australia in 2005.
Below is a clip on a recent story Inside Golf ran on Murray in the January 2019 issue:
Murray calls time on a distinguished career
Alan Murray, the enigmatic Australian golf professional who burst onto the international golf scene in the 1950s as a supremely gifted ball striker – then withdrew from the limelight just as spontaneously – recently announced his retirement, aged 78, from a long, distinguished teaching career.
Late last year, Murray travelled to Sydney, Perth and Singapore to host some popular “testimonial golf days” and long lunches, as he regaled attendees with stories of his career.
In his playing career, Alan played on all the primary tours of the day, beating fields including the legendary likes of Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Peter Thomson, all of whom he can list as friends. His crowning glory came with a win in the 1962 French Open.
As a teaching professional, Alan complemented his playing career with a strong personal commitment to growing the game in Asia.
Alan began his career in Sydney, Australia, as an assistant professional at Killara Golf Club. During his term there, he was fortunate to have the opportunity to acquire much valued tuition and guidance from Australia’s greatest players, including Peter Thomson, Kel Nagle, Norman Von Nida and Eric Cremin.
Alan turned pro in 1958 and in due course played in every major Australian PGA tournament of the day and most international PGA tournaments, including the British Open and the 1967 World Cup. He won no less than 78 of those tournaments, which represents an extraordinary strike rate. Alan also set 23 course records including one at the New South Wales Golf Club at La Perouse.
Apart from his French Open title, Alan also won the 1961 Australian PGA Championship, three Rolex Masters on the Asian Tour and beat Roberto de Vincenzo in a playoff for the 1967 Australian Wills Masters. In typical style, Alan had retired to the bar to shoot the breeze before de Vincenzo fell back into a tie, but Alan still managed to win the playoff on the first extra hole, having earlier offered a flippant gentlemen’s draw!
During the 1960s, Alan was one of the first foreigners to start playing the Asian Golf Circuit regularly, before relocating full-time to Singapore in 1972 to take up a prestigious coaching position as head professional at the renowned Singapore Island Country Club, where he stayed until 1980.
In 1979 he sustained serious neck injuries in a car crash on the winding entrance road to Singapore Island Country Club which led to an end to his tournament days.
Alan met his then-wife-to-be June (a horse-mad woman also from Sydney) in the late 1950s and they married in 1962. Three children followed them into their world of travel, daughters, Michelle and Julie and son Matthew Arnold (as in Palmer).
Matthew Murray took up his father’s mantle in golf, leading to his tutelage as Assistant General Manager at Lake Karrinyup and the head role at Joondalup Golf Club in Perth. He was also GM at Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club, which has just changed its name to the TPC (Tournament Players Club) Kuala Lumpur – Asia’s prestigious first satellite of the stellar TPC network of courses in the US.
Matthew now operates golf centres in Singapore and Malaysia under the brand name “Champions Golf”, with Alan as Director of the Golf Academy – the position from which he recently retired.
During their time in the beautiful forested mountains of Bukit Timah in Singapore, June became the head instructor and a horse trainer at the Singapore Polo Club, and Alan set about formulating the Singapore Professional Golfers Association. In due course, he came to be considered the “guru” of golf analysis and coaching in the Asia Pacific, the “founding father” of professional golf in the region. He has coached many of the finest players on tour today as well as the National Teams of New Zealand, Singapore and Malaysia. To this day, Alan is the only person to be awarded Life Membership of the Singapore PGA.
On a lighter note, Alan is also attributed with giving a host of players their nicknames, including Len “the Spaniard” Thomas when his name was announced as “El Thomas” at a game in the Philippines, Graham “Swampy” Marsh and Frank “Chopper” Phillips – and a host of friendly irreverent nicknames we can’t repeat here.
The tour was a much more spontaneous lifestyle in those days before the plush, modern entourage of physiotherapists, mind coaches, equipment buses, publicity machines – and political correctness. Alan Murray is a big piece of the story of this colourful era which is sadly all but lost.