Montrose Golf Links has released details of the first TV personality to be granted honorary membership in its 450-year history. The announcement, which follows the unprecedented move earlier this year to rename the fifth oldest golf course in the world, will see the honour bestowed upon former European Tour player Ewen Murray who is perhaps better known as the voice of Sky Sports golf coverage.
The announcement completes a memorable year for the Angus course which unveiled The 1562 Course shortly after the conclusion of the Open Championship at Carnoustie in July. For Murray, who becomes only the third person to receive the honour, the distinction is not only thrilling, but also poignant given his fond childhood memories of the east coast links.
“It was humbling,” admitted Murray, who has been a part of the Sky Sports team since 1991. “It’s not something you ask for; it’s something you’re asked to become, so when the letter arrived I was thrilled. I am very happy to be associated with the fifth oldest course in the world. It’s a big honour.”
Murray, who has earned a reputation as an expert golf commentator, has travelled the world covering some of the sport’s greatest moments. He was also a talented golfer in his own right playing on the European Tour and excelling in his youth winning the Scottish Boys Championship, the Scottish Boys Stroke Play Championship and the World Junior Championship, all in 1971.
Montrose made a lasting impression on Murray at the age of 10 when he first experienced the links caddying for his father who was raised in Arbroath but became the club professional at Baberton in Edinburgh. “I remember it vividly,” he recalled. “I fell in love with Montrose right away. It was rugged in the way a links course should be. I had played lots of seaside courses as a kid, but Montrose was the way seaside courses were meant to be. And it stuck with me.”
Although largely unaltered, the classic Scottish links at Montrose has been adapted and tweaked over the years by the likes of Willie Park Jr, Old Tom Morris and Harry Colt. Not surprisingly, it has become a must-play course for many visitors to Scotland with seven spectacular cliff-face holes and is widely regarded as one of the most natural links layouts in Scotland. It has twice hosted Open Championship Final Qualifying and regularly appears in the most prestigious golf rankings.
The relaunch of The 1562 Course at Montrose forms a key part of an integrated plan to better recognise 450 years of golfing heritage at the renowned east coast venue. The announcement of the honorary membership is the next stage in that plan.
“This has been an eventful year at Montrose Golf Links and for golf in Scotland generally,” noted Jason Boyd, PGA professional and operations manager at Montrose Golf Links. “The idea to create a brand surrounding The 1562 Course was a way of refocussing the history of Montrose and invigorating it for the 21st century. To mark this milestone, we wanted to recognise an individual who has a strong connection with Montrose, had reached the top level of the sport and had contributed to the growth of the game. Ewen was the perfect candidate, so we were thrilled when he accepted our proposal.”
The announcement concludes a year of special events at Montrose including a special launch offer and the introduction of a visitor experience package to coincide with the unveiling of the retitled links course. “It couldn’t come at a better time,” said Murray. “You look at that land and consider how long it’s been around; and you realise this is a special place. On a good day, when you get up on the dunes and look out to sea, I’m not sure I would want to be anywhere else than the east coast of Scotland. It just means so much to my family and therefore to me.”
Not only was Murray’s father from Arbroath, but his family also regularly visited Angus when he was growing up. It’s a tradition that he maintains with his own family until this day.
Montrose Golf Links features two traditional links courses; The Medal and The Broomfield and is located a 30-minute drive from Carnoustie, less than an hour from Dundee and 1 ½-hrs drive from St Andrews.
Montrose Golf Links www.montroselinks.com