30 years ago, the unlikely pair of comedian-actor Bill Murray and PGA Tour pro Scott Simpson joined forces to create an unforgettable duo at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
Simpson, who is in his second year as a men’s golf coach at the University of Hawaii, recalled golf week at the Sony Open in Hawaii how their partnership came to fruition.
As Simpson recounts, Murray had played with journeyman pro John Adams in the previous year’s Pro-Am. Simpson recalls watching Murray’s antics with the gallery on TV and thought they were hilarious, but when Adams was asked, “How’s it playing with the fun-loving Murray? Game.
“He said, ‘It’s really not fun,’ or something like that,” Simpson recalled. “I went to the putting green after that and Peter Jacobsen, who played with actor Jack Lemmon for years, was there and I said to him, ‘Peter, can you imagine John Adams saying that’s not fun? It’s the most fun you can have on the golf course playing with Bill Murray.” He says, ‘Scott, you have to play with him next year.’ My caddy was Jim Mackay, Bones – he was my caddy before Phil Mickelson. I taught him everything. He was caddy for my mate Larry Mize first – and Bones said, ‘You tell him you want to play with Murray next year.’ Actually, when Bones left me for Mickelson – which was great, you know. I was really happy for him to get this guy who is so talented and will do great things. He says, “But there’s one thing I want, one thing I’m going to ask of you, I want to caddy with your group with Bill Murray next year.” Even though he worked for Phil, he was at Pebble Caddy for me.”
Jacobsen and Mackay persuaded Simpson to write a letter to tournament officials asking to play with Murray. On paper, it appeared to be a mismatch with Simpson, who was a regular at weekly Bible study meetings and considered too stuffy for Murray’s course trick. But two weeks before the tournament the following year, officials asked Simpson if he still wanted to play with Murray.
“Absolutely,” Simpson said. “No one wanted to play with him and I was just like, you know what, I don’t care what I shoot. It’s gonna be the funnest week in the world. I didn’t care. Because I get the seat in the front row. He would cut it into people and people would start clapping because they knew he was coming to them, and rightly so.
“They had these ladies baking cookies for all AT&T executives. He said, ‘Can I have one like this?’ Oh sure, Mr Murray. Next he grabs the whole load of it and tosses it to the people in the gallery. Once he walked up to a Ben & Jerry’s dealership at Spyglass and same thing: Can I have one like that? oh sure Next thing you know, he’s tossing everyone in the gallery, “Hey, you look like a Cherry Garcia.” He emptied it and the guy who owned the Ben & Jerry’s thing out there was in shock and said, ‘Oh my god I wanted him to have one but oh no I’m going to lose money. ‘ Murray left him about $500. He just walked over and gave him about $500. Just stuff like that.”
Simpson had so much fun that first year that he signed on to play with Murray year after year.
“I said, ‘You can play with someone else, you know? He said, “Oh no, we have to win it.” He says: “We have two rules. We’re going to have the most fun and we’re going to win.’ We’ve always accomplished at least one goal,” Simpson said.
Simpson and Murray, who played together 13 times between 1993 and 2007, finished fourth in the Pro-Am division (2004) as high as a tie but never took home the hardware. (Simpson won the First Tee Open on PGA Tour Champions with Murray as his partner in 2006.)
“He finally won on DA points (2011), and he goes on the David Letterman Show, and Letterman says to him, ‘So, Bill, you won that golf tournament out there, huh?’ ‘Oh yes, Dave. Big thing.’ He says, “You know, my partner DA won the pro thing, but the big news was we won (the pro-am).” Letterman says, “Haven’t you been playing with another guy for a long time?” He says, “Yeah Dave, I played with this guy named Scott Simpson for about 14 years. He tripped me, Dave. He brought me down. Then he looks at the camera, ‘And you know you did it,'” Simpson recalls, laughing. “It was so classic. “You know you did it.” My goodness. Have fun.”
Story originally appeared on GolfWeek