When most guys think about who’d be in their fantasy golf foursome, Bill Murray always makes the cut. No celebrity draws more universal respect and admiration than the fun-loving “Murricane.” On October 23, The Kennedy Center will award Murray with the 19th Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. Entire websites and Twitter feeds are dedicated to Bill Murray sightings. Everyone wants to play, in some form, with the man, the myth, the Murray. Chad Minnis, a 28-year old dispatcher for a Bay Area cement company, recently lived that dream.
Several months ago, Chad bought a signed, limited-edition “Bill Murray Cinderella Story” poster for $250 and was automatically entered into the annual “Murray Brothers Caddyshack Charity Golf Tournament,” which raises money for the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation. The bigger the donation, the better the chance of winning the grand prize: a day for you and a guest to golf with Bill and his brothers at the World Golf Village in St. Augustine, FL. Over 10,000 people entered and more than $150,000 was raised. Chad never thought he’d win. Here’s his “Cinderella Story.”
When Chad first got the email alerting him he had won, he thought it was one of his friends playing a joke on him. Then came the tough choice of whom to bring as a guest. “I thought about my fiancée,” he says, “but she understood I was probably going to take one of my boys and was totally cool about it.” He also considered his grandmother, an avid golfer, “but she didn’t even know who Bill Murray was—I know that’s hard to believe. I don’t actually play golf. I suck. Graciously, my grandmother did give me a lesson before I headed out to hopefully not embarrass myself.”
So then which one of his boys? How to choose? Chad hosted an all-night competition among his three best friends and his brother. It was the kind of competition Bill would be proud of- a decathlon of fun that included ‘Nintendo 64 Mario Cars’, a couple of drinking games—flip cup and beer pong—and an epic rap battle, along with a bro-like detour to a local strip club, before Chad’s friend Derek was declared the winner the next morning.
Derek proudly boasts, “I was the only one who wore a Bill Murray T-shirt during the competition. I guess that was my lucky charm.”
The night before the actual tournament, Bill and his brothers, along with their Caddyshack restaurant at the World Golf Village, hosted a karaoke jam and swinging drinking soiree for all attendees and sponsors. In between one of Bill’s raucous singing sets, Chad casually walked over to introduce himself.
“I wanted to warn him I was going to be playing with him and that I had just shot a 148 last weekend,” he says. (For non-golf-aficionados, par is 72 for an 18-role round, and the pros typically shoot right around that number.) Chad recalls, “His eyes lit up, ‘Are you serious?!’” Bill’s game isn’t quite at the pro-level, but he’s close enough to be respectable. He participates in a number of celebrity pro-ams throughout the year and probably isn’t use to playing with someone as bad as Chad.
Fortunately for Chad (and Bill), he wouldn’t have to carry the team on golf day, as Bill’s expanded foursome in the best ball scramble would also include the CEO of Waste Management, one of Bill’s sons, Bill’s best friend from Kindergarten and the CEO of Prizeo, the company that organized the contest.
On the course, Bill kept everyone loose, randomly cracking 1-liners, tossing zingers and occasionally busting out into his movie characters. Like a good ring leader, he also assigned everyone nicknames. The Waste Management CEO became “The Trash Man” while more obscure references were bestowed upon Chad and Derek. Unfortunately, neither can remember as both are in their late 20s and didn’t quite get them anyway. Whatever Bill called them, I’m betting it was pretty funny and accurate.
Derek recalls another light moment when the group stopped at a taco truck parked at one of the holes, Bill asked the attendant, “Where’s the shrimp come from?” The guy responded, “Frozen from Costco.” Bill replied, “Just my type, I’ll take one.”
Later, Bill took a call from his older son, on his Blackberry. His beloved Cubs had thrown a no-hitter the night before and they were talking about it. It turns out his son was offered free tickets to the game, but didn’t end up going. While still on he phone with his son, Bill told the whole group about his son’s startling error, then yelled back into the phone, “You are no longer a Murray. You are out of the family,” and hung up on him.
“When random people would approach Bill on the course,” says Chad, “he’d immediately disarm them and welcome them, “Hello, my name is Bill, what’s your name?’ Just super cool.”
“He even gave me a lesson for like 10 minutes in the middle of the round. ‘Your swing’s not bad, but your line-up is terrible,’ Bill told me. His tip must’ve helped because somehow, I managed to hit at least one pretty decent shot. Bill let me know. ‘Hey, that was a good shot Chad.’”
Of course, Bill’s never been shy about offering advice on life’s matters.
“My life was now complete. It was such a surreal experience. Perfect. No complaints. I’m still trying to wrap my head around it,” concludes Chad.
Chad’s crowning achievement aside, the story of the day came courtesy of Bill’s old Kindergarden buddy. The friend told a tale of how one time he and Bill were playing a round at Augusta National when a plane buzzed overhead near an unattended maintenance shed that just happened to have a live walkie talkie by it. “Without hesitating,” said the friend, “Bill grabbed the walkie and spoke into it, ‘This is Delta flight 972. We got a fuel leak and we’re gonna’ have to land. Looks like the safest place to put it down is on this course.’ Soon after, all this security showed up running around in a panic. We never said anything.”
Oh, if you want to know what drink to offer Bill should you ever run into him on a course, it’s grapefruit and tequila. Chad is currently trying to figure out how to send Bill an invitation to his wedding, or at least the bachelor party. After all, he has been known to give a pretty good toast/send-off.
And here are 5 more of the best Bill Murray stories that you’ll never believe.
Steve Matoren is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles who owns a pillow covered in a portrait painting of Bill Murray as a Civil War General.