All Kidding Aside: Funnyman Bill Murray Gets Serious about His Three Favorite Things-Family Golf and Charity
Yaeger, Don, Success
Bill Murray is one of America's great pranksters, the funny guy who became a household name on Saturday Night Live before playing a gopher-obsessed golf assistant named Carl Spackler in Caddyshach, and then a ghost chaser in the movie Ghostbusters. And he cuts a swath everywhere he goes, whether he's playing golf in head-to-toe camouflage gear or skydiving to raise money for the USO. "He's a presence," says his youngest brother, Joel Murray. "He can take a room from zero to 60 depending on the mood he's in."
But if you want to watch the funny guy turn serious, ask Bill Murray about philanthropy. Giving back, he says straight-faced, is a responsibility, not an option. And the centerpiece of his personal efforts is one of the nation's largest and most successful charity golf events, the Murray Bros. Caddyshack Charity Golf Tournament, hosted by Bill and his five brothers in St. Augustine, Ha., home of the original Murray Bros. caddyshack Restaurant.
The annual tournament allows Murray to combine subjects he loves: family, charity and golf. "I love golf and spending time with my brothers," he tells me. "It's great for all of us to come to Florida, spend time in the restaurant, play these great courses with our friends and do some good things for this community. We've had a. lot of fun with this tournament and we believe the end result is very worthwhile."
The idea for the tournament came even before the Caddyshack restaurant opened at the World Golf Village in St. Augustine, home of the World Golf Hall of Fame. The brothers were doing a walk through the facility when a group of nuns approached. "They came up to us and said, 'We heard you boys are Catholics,'" remembers Joel Murray. "They said, 'What are you going to do for us?' We said, 'I guess we can do a golf tournament and give you all the proceeds.' It was nice because we should be giving back to the area where we are asking people for business."
Now in its 12th year, the Murray Bros. Caddyshack Golf Tournament has raised more than $2 million for charities, including St. Vincent's Mobile Health Outreach Ministry, The Guardian Catholic Schools, Florida School for the Deaf and Blind, and Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation. The tournament is so large it's now hosted. on three area courses. It brings in some heavy hitters from sports and entertainment who have become regulars: country music star Darius Rucker; former Caddysh adz cast members, including Cindy Morgan, who played Lacey Underall; actors Kevin Sorbo, Melissa Joan Hart and Kristy Swanson; late-night talk show host Jimmy Fallon; golfers Fuzzy Zoeller and John Daly; as well as former players from Murray's beloved Chicago Bears, including Jim McMahon and Hall of Famer Richard Dent.
"You want to have good celebrities who understand the cause and spend time meeting and greeting the guests: says longtime Murray friend Chris Seely, who serves as director of the tournament. "And of course, they need to play some decent golf or at least have the right handicap."
On the contrary, Murray jokes: "I make sure I don't invite any of my friends who are better than me. It's my tournament; I want to win!"
Actually, Murray, who has a 13 handicap, is a pretty good golfer and the consummate host, making a point of interacting with every player, taking scores of pictures, cracking jokes and delivering a one-liner that leaves everyone in stitches. (In a previous tournament, Murray had an interesting assessment of this author's embarrassingly bad swing, which carved a divot that probably sailed farther than the actual ball. Riding up in his golf cart about that time, he said, "Where I come from, we call that a raisin bran shot. …