Open Championship official wins prestigious literary award

Mark McGowan

Neil Millar (centre) receives the Murdoch Medal at Royal Liverpool from Richard Williams (left), and Bob Chadwick (Photo: Adrian Milledge)

University professor and Open Championship referee Neil Millar has won one of the most prestigious awards relating to the study of golf history for his ground-breaking book Early Golf: Royal Myths and Ancient Histories.

Millar, who officiated at last month’s Open Championship at Royal Liverpool Golf Club, has been awarded the Murdoch Medal by the British Golf Collectors Society (BGCS).

The Medal is named in honour of Joe Murdoch, the noted author and golf book collector, and is awarded annually to the member of the BGCS who has made a major contribution to golf’s heritage.


It was first awarded in 1994 and the latest recipient is Professor of Molecular Pharmacology at University College London; he has also served on the R&A Rules of Golf Committee and the R&A Referees Panel.

Millar took time out from his busy schedule at Royal Liverpool to receive the Medal from BGCS Captain Bob Chadwick and Richard Williams, the award committee chairman.

Commenting on the accolade for his work, he said: “Being awarded the Murdoch Medal is totally unexpected but is a huge honour and I’m delighted and proud in equal measure.”

Early Golf: Royal Myths and Ancient Histories was praised by the award committee for changing the whole landscape of the study of early golf by showing that many of the game’s most cherished foundation stories were without any factual basis. In addition, Millar presented new findings on early golf using seemingly overlooked documentary sources.

“In doing so, Neil has taken golf scholarship to new levels of excellence by combining traditional and digital research methods,” commented Williams. “He has also written a very readable and entertaining book.”

Sky TV golf presenter, Mark Roe, was similarly impressed with Millar’s book.

He said: “This ground breaking book makes sense of the available facts with an almost forensic analysis. It’s an essential read.”

Demonstrating the range of the interests of BGCS members, the award committee short-listed Peter Fry for his work on Samuel Ryder, Robert Hudson and the Ryder Cup, and Nigel Morecroft for his book St Andrews: Camelot of Golf.

Early Golf: Royal Myths and Ancient Histories is published by Edinburgh University Press in hardback and other formats.

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