By GARY LARRABEE
I have observed them mostly from a distance lo this past half-century from my vantage points in Salem and Wenham. But now that I have given their legacy a closer look, I marvel at the dedication and commitment Ted Murphy and his family have given to the game in this golf hotbed of Haverhill.
“We’ve had a lot of fun,” said Ted Murphy, 82, who bought the sporty Garrison Golf Course on Hilldale Avenue in 1969. It is now known as Murphy’s Garrison Golf Center, as it has grown from simply a nine-hole course to a facility that also features instruction, a roomy driving range and a highly reputable junior program. “Every day I get up and go to the Center, approaching my work for what it really is – fun,” Murphy said.
The Murphys celebrate their 50th season at Garrison this year – a remarkable accomplishment in any business, let alone golf with its mix of loyal and fickle participants.
The “fun” perspective to golf – in work and play – has well-served Ted, wife Mary and the Murphy children (Kevin, Brian, Colleen and Maureen). The great game has embraced all of them profoundly. Mary, even while she raised the four little Murphys while dad spent 16-hour days at Garrison, spent countless hours in the pro shop, giving the kids the run of the place when they were old enough. Their home has always been an ancient farmhouse on the golf course property.
First-born son Kevin became the chip off the old man’s block, living and working the game as he grew up, captaining the state champion 1990 Haverhill High golf team that included Marc Spencer, Keith Cutler and Billy Drohen. After learning the golf business from his dad, Kevin turned professional and, five years ago, purchased the 18-hole, semi-private Bradford Golf Club with wife Kristin. Kevin has been Haverhill High golf coach since 1999.
Brother Brian lives in Connecticut and has been a Titleist sales rep for more than 30 years. Colleen is a physical therapist who plays golf regularly, as does Maureen, who works for DataTech and, prior to that, was a Titleist employee for 15 years.
“I’m thrilled that all my children love the game and three of them chose to work in the game,” said patriarch Ted, a Woburn native and graduate of the famed UMass Stockbridge School of Agriculture (turf management). Ted’s talent with grass was so obvious, his first job out of college was as course superintendent at Lexington Golf Club, a job he held for 14 years before making the big leap – at a cost of $100,000 – and acquired Garrison.
Ted and Mary’s extraordinary promotion of junior golf at Garrison and their endless support of the youth in the area were just two of the many reasons they were honored in 2017 at the Haverhill YMCA’s Legacy Dinner at Bradford Country Club.
Mary, 78, has volunteered at St. Joseph’s School and St. Joseph’s Church, served on the City of Haverhill Parks and Recreation Commission and as a board member of the Haverhill YMCA.
The couple has been big boosters of Haverhill High athletics and for nearly 50 years have co-sponsored the Haverhill Gazette Santa Fund Hole-in-One contest that has raised more than $200,000 for needy Haverhill children and adults.
Ted and Mary also have been honored with the Liberty Bell Award from the Haverhill Bar Association, as Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce Outstanding Business Persons of the Year, as recipients of the Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce Community Leadership Award and the Yankee Clipper Council Boy Scouts of America Distinguished Citizens Awards.
How soon is the city erecting Ted and Mary Murphy bronze statues?
Ted has done his thing for all these years owning and operating Garrison while providing a strong focus on junior golf. He remains a solid player in his 80s as well. He has, in effect, worn two big hats all these years at Garrison as its course superintendent and a member of the New England Section of the PGA.
“My dad’s as proud of one position he’s held as superintendent as he is of being a member of the NEPGA all these years,” says Kevin, an NEPGA member and heir apparent of the Murphy golf business. “He and our mom have inspired all us Murphy kids and I think we’ve made them proud.”
Bottom line: the Murphy clan, led by mom and dad, are one of the special golf families we are blessed to have here in Boston’s northern neighborhood. May they continue to thrive and champion the game we love.