Bill Murray is aiming to see the gaping hole in golf club memberships gradually filled during his year in office now that he has taken up the reins as President of the English Golf Union. Murray, a long-serving golf administrator from County Durham, was elected at the EGU’s National Council Meeting at Woodhall Spa last week.
As he took the helm of English men’s golf, Murray expressed the hope that more people of all ages, especially juniors, not only take up the game but also become members of clubs.
“Many golf clubs are short of members and it would be my hope that when I step down in a year’s time the list of vacancies will be greatly reduced,” he says. “I would also like to see clubs make it easier for potential members to join by spreading fees and subscriptions over the year.
“Some clubs, especially in the north of England, have reduced joining fees or dropped them completely and are openly advertising for members and arrangements are in place to pay subscriptions on a monthly basis.”
The latest EGU questionnaire sent to clubs reveals that there are at least 40,000 vacancies for adults and juniors in England – something that Murray feels must be addressed.
“The EGU is already helping with this with its free golf lessons scheme,” he adds. “We aim to have between 60 and 70 affiliated clubs and ranges signed up this year.”
Born in West Hartlepool in 1930, Murray played a key role in the EGU moving its headquarters to Woodhall Spa and purchasing the famous Lincolnshire course. He was appointed to the Futures Committee, which was set up in 1991 to outline the way forward for the EGU.
“I was the one sent out on the road to look at various courses and in the end we settled on Woodhall Spa,” he says. He then played a major role on the Facilities Committee that set about the development of the new headquarters at Woodhall Spa along with former President John Flanders.
A retired auctioneer and estate agent, a General Commissioner for Income Tax, Murray’s introduction to golf administration came in 1978 when he became Honorary Secretary of the Durham County Golf Union. He spent 12 years in office before becoming Durham President in 1991-2.
He was also Secretary of the Northern Boys Championship for 10 years, Chief Referee of the Golf Foundation for 15 years as well as Referee for the Daily Telegraph/Centre Parcs Junior Golf Championship.
His association with the English Golf Union began in 1983 since when he has served on a number of committees. He was in charge of coaching for the North East area for 13 years and is currently a member of the EGU Council, Executive Committee, Tournament Panel and Courses and Management Committees.
A self-confessed “very mediocre golfer, who is trying hard to play to a handicap of 18, often without success,” he did win the Durham CGU Second Division Championship in 1982.
Murray is the first EGU President to come from Seaton Carew Golf Club in its 128-year history. He is also a member of the R&A and an Honorary Life Member of Morpeth Golf Club.
Married to Lorna, a keen 20-handicapper, Murray is also the first EGU President to come from Durham since John Todd in 1969.
English Golf Union www.englishgolfunion.org