Has Bill Murray's Golf Act Become Passť?

By: Jim Moore

I'm for anything that loosens up the game of golf, including a pre-round cocktail if that's what it takes. There are so many rules, some of which I don't like at all, such as being forced to play out of a fairway divot.

And golf is far too quiet for me - you'd think the pros could deal with a little noise from time to time without going nuts about it; in basketball, shooters try to sink free throws while fans frantically wave things trying to distract them. Can you imagine if this happened to golfers trying to make a birdie putt? I've never understood why galleries can't have a little more fun, but I guess it's because golf takes itself so seriously.

After those two paragraphs, you'd think that I'd love a guy like Bill Murray, who brings his comedy show to the AT&T at Pebble Beach every year and yuks his way around the course. But I don't like Bill Murray, not anymore. I've grown tired of his act, Ambien-tired. I want to reach into my flat screen and physically stop him from making a fool of himself and the tournament.

Listen, I loved him in "Caddyshack." He's a terrific actor and a funny guy. And from what I understand, he's a decent stick and loves the game so much that he wrote a book in 1999 entitled. "Cinderella Story: My Life in Golf."

But Murray goes too far at the AT&T. His antics were hilarious the first time he appeared at Pebble Beach. And he was funny in subsequent years. But I have a hard time giving him even a courtesy laugh anymore.

Now I can't blame former PGA Tour commissioner Deane Beman for wanting to ban him in 1993 after Murray danced in a sand trap with an elderly lady who fell awkwardly on national TV. Beman used words such as "inappropriate" and "detrimental" in reference to Murray, suggesting that he might not be invited back.

In response, Murray called Beman "just another screwhead who's too big for his britches."

Whatever you thought of Beman, that wasn't cool. The Commish was thinking the same thing I'm thinking now - get Murray off the golf course, and do it now.

Don't get me wrong. OK, get me wrong if you want, but there are things that Murray has done at Pebble Beach that amused me: the first time he used his putter as a pool cue to putt, or when he did the Hula Hoop with a member of the gallery. And the first time I saw him hugging a woman on the ground that was good stuff, too.

I also appreciate the fact that Scott Simpson is his partner every year. Straight-laced Scott Simpson? Vanilla Scott Simpson? It's a polar-opposite pairing that works.

But just once, I'd like to see how Tiger Woods would handle a day with Murray as his partner. That would be a beautiful thing. I'm guessing that Tiger would tolerate the shenanigans for one round anyway, but his caddie, Steve Williams, would strangle Murray. Hey, if the click of a camera shutter gets to Williams, imagine what Murray would do to him.

At this year's AT&T, according to the San Jose Mercury-News, Murray showed up as the worst-dressed golfer at the tournament, wearing what was described as a battered black fedora with black pants and an ugly shirt that was partly untucked.

As a guy who is never nattily attired, I won't tear apart Murray's fashion sense, but come on, show a little common sense with your wardrobe. But with Murray, everything gets mocked.

Here's what I don't understand - why does he feel the need to be "in character" every time he's at Pebble Beach. Why does he have to go out of his way to be outrageous all the time? Why can't he pick his spots and be selectively spontaneous like Charles Barkley is at the American Century Championship in Lake Tahoe? Murray is overkill with a capital "O."

It reminds me of Robin Williams. Every time Williams is on a talk show, he's in character. Wouldn't it be more interesting to see the regular-guy side of him, just as it would be with Murray?

Unfortunately, that will never happen, we'll never see Murray teeing up his ball and just hitting it without doing something ridiculous after he swings.

Last month at the Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am at the TPC at Tampa Bay, Murray hooked a tee shot and hit a lady in her backyard. She was struck in the left temple and needed stitches to repair her wound.

From Internet reports, it sounds as if Murray was shaken by the incident. He laid on the ground with her to see if she was OK. He showed his human side for once.

But he was back in his role as golfing goof the next day, telling the crowd before his first tee shot: "This one is for a little girl in a hospital."

Ha-ha. Tee-hee. I'm sure everyone laughed because that's what you're supposed to do when Murray says or does something on the golf course.

But the thing is, he's just not that funny anymore, and I find myself wishing that Beman had gotten his way.

Jim Moore is now a freelance writer after a lengthy run as a sports columnist for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, which closed its doors in March 2009 after 145 years. He's a 51-year-old 12-handicapper with a pair of 4-year-old sons who love golf, too. Jim believes that the most necessary element on all golf courses is the presence of a beverage-cart girl, preferably two, one for the front side and one for the back. Jim is a mental midget who got so sick of his left wrist breaking down on the greens that he now putts one-handed. Jim can be reached and harassed at jimmoorethego2guy@yahoo.com.