The inspiration and trends behind the William Murray Golf Collection
August 17, 2017
By Greg Monteforte, Style Insider, PGATOUR.COM
- The William Murray Golf collection naturally shares a few quirks with one of the brand's eccentric founders. (Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
William Murray Golf is everything you would expect it to be. It’s fun, stylish, and yes, a little quirky. Born from a partnership between actor Bill Murray, his brothers, and photo-entertainment website the Chive, the brand manages to blend a healthy mix of tradition with casual irreverence. Even the brand’s logo, a silhouette of Bill tossing a club to the side, is refined and a little cheeky at the same time.
William Murray Golf launched its first collection in September 2016 and couldn’t have asked for a better start. Buoyed by two serendipitous events shortly after the launch, the brand quickly sold out of several shirts. Bill Murray sported the label’s shirts while sitting in the Wrigley Field stands to cheer on his beloved Chicago Cubs as they captured the World Series for the first time in 108 years. In the process, he and the brand’s polos seemed to get more airtime than many of the players.
“You never know with Billy. He's very unpredictable,” said Joel Murray, one of Bill’s brothers and chief executive officer of William Murray Golf. “All of a sudden he was at these games and wearing the polos. It was nice that a billion people got to see the shirts. That was a huge windfall for us that we didn't expect.”
‘Authenticity’ is a word often bandied about by brands in the golf fashion world, but few are as authentic as William Murray Golf. Many of the designs in the current collection were actually inspired by the Murray brothers’ experiences working at Indian Hill Country Club. To turn their stories into clothing designs, the brothers traveled to the Chive offices in Austin to meet with the design team.
“We had a meeting in Austin a few months back, and all the brothers flew in. We had a sit down where we told stories about our youth, which in turn inspired the artists to create the prints and pieces in the collection,” explained Joel.
The top seller in the collection has been the Old Fashioned Polo (above), which pulls inspiration from the fictitious Suntory ad campaign in the movie Lost in Translation. The microprint is comprised of whiskey cocktails in highball glasses. Of course, an offbeat suggestion from Bill put the design over the top.
“When we were putting this design together, Bill said, ‘You know, sometimes drinks spill,’ so we decided to knock over every 18th glass,” said Joel.
The launch roll continued for William Murray Golf as Pat Perez won the OHL Classic at Mayakoba while wearing the brand’s shirts just days after the Cubs’ victory.
“Pat is a pretty wacky guy. He's pretty quirky himself. He knows every line to every ‘80s comedy. He’s a nice fit with the brand in that aspect. Similar to Bill and the World Series, he starts wearing the stuff, and right away wins a tournament,” said Joel.
Well before Brian-Doyle Murray was a writer on Caddyshack and Bill played the zany greenskeeper Carl Spackler, golf was a huge part of the Murray brothers’ lives. Growing up in Winnetka, IL, the six brothers were introduced to the game as caddies at Indian Hill Country Club and eventually worked in every area of the club. Brian wore many hats as a shoe shiner, waiter, and bartender. Ed was the caddie master and eventually won a Chick Evans scholarship. Those days created a lasting bond between the Murray brothers and the game of golf.
Other prints in the collection feature intricate details that play tricks on the eyes and expose hidden elements. For example, the idea behind the Mowers and Martinis Polo was a pattern of push mowers and rakes. However, when the eye sees the repetition of the small pattern, it actually sees martini glasses rather than rakes.
The Sandy Tiles Polo is a tip of the cap to the hard working greenskeepers and their tools. At a distance, the trippy geometric pattern looks like a wrought iron door. Upon closer inspection, the pattern is comprised of golf balls surrounded by the business end of rakes.
Two patterns featuring mums pull inspiration from Bill’s famous scene in Caddyshack. The aptly named Cinderella Story Polo appears to have a trendy polka dot print. In reality, it is a random assortment of exploding mums. On the other hand, the Tropical Mums Polo is anything but subtle. The loud pattern with large and colorful mums offers a Hawaiian vibe that is perfect for a warm tropical location.
If those shirts don’t turn heads in the clubhouse, the bold camouflage pattern on the Bunker Camo Polo and Button Down surely will. Camo has been one of the trendy looks on the fairways the last few years and the Murray brothers have put their own unique spin on it.
“Regular camouflage is just swirls and nonsense,” said Joel. “We have a great white and gray camo shirt and a turquoise gray and green camo pant. When you put a couple of pin flags on it and place a couple of rakes in different areas, you realize the camo pattern is made of greens and bunkers. It takes a second to see it, but once you notice it, it is so obvious.”
A common thread tying the collection together is the Murray tartan. The blue, green, and red plaid pattern is a shout-out to the family’s roots. It typically plays the supporting role in the form accents on the shirts. In other cases, like with the Irreverent Button Down Shirt that Bill wore this year at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am (see image at top), it is the star of the show.
In addition to polos and button downs, the brand also offers an eclectic range of shorts, T-shirts, and hats in a variety of prints and solid colors. For Fall 2017, William Murray Golf will expand its line with performance outerwear and blazers.
“The most exciting things for fall are outerwear and a sports jacket. My brother Andy has been clamoring for a vest,” said Joel. “We also have a great navy blue blazer that you can wear with anything. You can crumple it up, put it in a backpack and go. Hopefully, you'll be able to swing a golf club in it, too.”
At a time when golf fashion is caught between the traditions of the game and a more modern and inclusive dress code, William Murray Golf’s whimsical and fun-loving attitude is a breath of fresh air. Part of the brand’s goal is to grow the game with its random and unpredictable looks.
“Billy has six sons. My brother Ed has three sons. His kids are all big golfers. Andy's kids are big golfers, but some of the younger ones are not taking to golf like we did. That's another reason why we're doing the line. We want to make it fun for these younger kids to be part of this club and part of golf again,” added Joel.