Best Wisconsin Golf Moment: Bill Murray, Hank Aaron, and Me

Jerry Huffman

Jerry Huffman is a journalist who used to produce television specials promoting the Greater Milwaukee Open.

One of the things I've always loved about Wisconsin is the amazing amount and high quality of its golf courses. I've been lucky enough to play the jewels in Wisconsin's golf crown like Whistling Straits inKohler, Erin Hills in Hartford, Brown Deer in Milwaukee, and Geneva National in Lake Geneva--all great courses offering phenomenal options. But if I had just one more round of golf to play in my life, I'd head to Janesville.

Riverside golf course is "old school" with narrow fairways and small greens. One of the cool holes is the par three 12th--it might be 110 yards from the tips.  hat makes it fun is a massive oak tree between the tee and green--a grand old tree that seems to enjoy knocking errant shots back into a deep ravine just off the tee. Hit it too hard and you're in the bunker or heading down the other ravine to the Rock River. The course is eminently walk-able and the usual Monday rate is only $18. Most days junior golfers can get a significant discount if they're with an adult. Add the classic cheeseburger from the clubhouse at the turn and it's a perfect day on a great course.

I've been playing golf courses all over Wisconsin since I was a kid, and, on my best golf day ever, I never hit a single shot.

In 1994, Bill Murray (Lost in Translation, Ghostbusters, Saturday Night Live, etc) had agreed to play in the Greater Milwaukee Open Pro-Am at Brown Deer Park. On a whim, I had written Bill promising him my Hank Aaron autographed baseball bat if he would play in the event.

We stood on the first tee and I will never forget that sight of all of those people lining the first fairway, for a glimpse of Murray. Golf fans, movie buffs, and people who didn't have a clue about golf turned out that day to see a guy wearing a khaki work outfit and a pink golf hat. The Chicago native and die hard baseball fan was a sucker for kids--he posed for dozens of pictures and signed hundreds of autographs that day--and had a joke for anyone who often said nothing more than, "...hey, Bill."

I caddied for Bill that day--my reward for convincing him to come--and couldn't have been happier when I handed over the Hank Aaron bat. What Bill shot that day has faded through the years, but not the memories. He left his "star" in the car that afternoon, played a good round of golf, and had a kind word for countless fans.  I don't think I've had a better day on a golf course since.

Jerry is a journalist who used to produce television specials promoting the Greater Milwaukee Open.

This entry was posted in Things to Do and tagged Guest Blogs, Golfing