by Doug Marshall
EARLY GOLF CHAMPIONS IN CANADA
First we need to start with The Parish of Norway in the northeast end of Toronto. This area was the original site of the Toronto Golf Club. With George Cumming becoming head Pro after 1900, many young people passed through the caddy ranks at the golf club and came to his attention. The best of these youngsters stayed on to become assistant professionals at the club.
They would move on in time to have their own club jobs, and were highly desirable employees having been trained by the master teacher George Cumming. Some of these young pros were also very fine players and made their mark in the competitive world of tournament golf in the early years of the 20th century. Not every champion of this time in Canada was from the caddy yards of Toronto Golf Club but for a while it seemed as if that were the case.CHARLES R. MURRAY (1882-1939)
Charles R. Murray came to Canada at age six and apprenticed to George Cumming as a teenager. After four years he was ready to move on and in 1902 was hired at the Toronto Hunt Club. The next year he moved to Montreal and became head pro at Westmount Golf Club. In 1905 he moved to Royal Montreal Golf Club where he stayed until he passed on in 1939. After 25 years at the club the membership rewarded him with an honorary lifetime membership, a tribute to the high esteem in which he was regarded.
All this as he became the best Canadian player of his generation winning two Canadian Opens in 1906 and 1911, and the inaugural CPGA championship in 1912. He was nine times Quebec Open Champion between 1909 and 1924, and won many other top events while still working full time as the head Pro at Royal Montreal. At one point he held course records at Mount Bruno, Marlborough, Beaconsfield, Royal Montreal, and at his winter club in Florida, Gulf Stream.
He also did some course design work around Montreal. With younger brother Albert he co-designed Kanawaki and Whitlock golf clubs. He "toughened up" the Royal Montreal old Dixie course at Dorval in preparation for the 1926 Canadian Open.
After a bout with cancer Charles Murray died in 1939. He was just 57 years old.
|Charles Murray at the Canadian Open, Rosedale GC, 1912|
Charles Murray at the height of his playing career
ALBERT H. MURRAY (1887-1974)
Albert Murray, younger brother of Charlie was only 8 months old when he arrived in Canada. However he followed his older brother to the caddy yards of Toronto Golf Club at age 10 in 1897. Three years later he won the first caddy tournament he entered, and after winning again the following year, George Cumming took him on as a young assistant to teach him the skills of club making and teaching. He was 15 years old.
Albert and Charlie in 1903
The following year the young prodigy joined his brother in Montreal at the Westmount Club and then on to Royal Montreal when Charles moved there in 1905. The next year at age 18, Albert was hired to remodel the Royal Quebec Golf Club at Cove Fields and take over the role of head pro. When the members were forced to relocate after the 1915 season they asked him to layout the new course at Montmorency Falls.
Albert when he arrived in Quebec
In 1908 Murray went to the Outremont Club. With the rapid growth of Montreal, this club was forced to move and formed a new club at Kanawaki. Albert along with brother Charles designed the layout and he was named the first professional of the new club in 1913. In 1921 Murray moved to the Country Club of Montreal, and then 5 years later to Beaconfield where he would stay for 16 years, retiring in 1942.
|Albert Murray on the course|
Albert Murray in a posed studio picture
So in 21 years from 1905 to 1926 Albert Murray was employed and involved in 8 golf clubs in the Montreal area. And all of this time he was creating a remarkable Hall of Fame playing career the equal of any of his peers. In 1908 at age 20 he became the youngest player to ever win the Canadian Open. He won it again in 1913. He won the CPGA Championship in 1924 and was runner-up in the first two events in 1912 and 1913. He won the Quebec Open twice (1910 and 1930 ) and was twice CPGA Senior Champion (1939 and 1940.)
Albert Murray in 1930
After his retirement in 1942 Albert spent much of his time to golf course design and is credited with 33 designs and 34 remodeled courses. Important courses include Laval sur le Lac, Whitlock, Val Morin, Malone in upstate New York and Edsmunston in New Brunswick.
Albert was the first Captain of the Canadian PGA in 1912 and served as its Captain again in 1920, 1921 and 1933. He stayed in Montreal in the winters and created the first and largest indoor Golf school in Canada, in the basement of Montreal's Ritz Carlton Hotel in 1916. It operated for 25 years.
For his tremendous accomplishments in Golf, Albert Murray was elected into the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame in January of 1974 one month before his death at age 86.
* Albert's grandson Ian Murray has created a wonderful web site at www.alberthmurray.com that includes a great article titled "My Grandfathers Basement" in which he describes childhood visits to his grandfather's house and his immediate descent to the basement to see the many artifacts from Albert's long career.
Next: Karl Keffer