Jeff Murdock truly does put the pedal to the metal at work and at play.
Murdock, the GCSAA Class A superintendent at Purple Sage Municipal Golf Course in Evanston, Wyo., often works 60-plus hours a week during summer. He doesn’t have an assistant superintendent, and at the time of this writing, was in the process of filling the course’s mechanic position. Seven seasonal employees join the staff in summer, which is extra significant this year, as Purple Sage will be hosting the Wyoming State Amateur Championship June 30-July 1.
In his spare time, Murdock enjoys putting his metal detector to work. He struck gold (kind of) not too long ago near an old railyard, where he located a 1-cent gold-colored coin from 1823. “It was beat-up a bit, but mostly in great shape,” says Murdock, a 25-year association member who is 49. “It isn’t worth much, though — it’s something like $19.20.”
The city of Evanston obviously regards Purple Sage as a worthwhile influence on the community. “The city supports us with resources,” Murdock says. Play usually starts in April, but that doesn’t necessarily mean conditions are ideal come summer. “We’ve had snow in the middle of June,” he says.
Purple Sage’s elevation is 7,000 feet, and the par-72 course is more than 7,000 yards from the tips. “We’re kind of up in the air here, in the jet stream. The ball flies. If you drive it 240 yards at sea level, it will be 260 to 270 here,” says Murdock, noting that Purple Sage borders Utah (4 miles) and Idaho (nearly 30 miles).
A graduate of Utah State University, Murdock’s industry ties began at age 14. He was an assistant mechanic at Jackson Hole (Wyo.) Golf & Tennis Club for seven summers. He landed his first superintendent job in 1997 at Logan River Golf Course in Logan, Utah. In 2009, Murdock arrived at Purple Sage after seven years as superintendent at Stone Ridge Golf Club in Blanchard, Idaho. He and his wife, Cynthia, have two children, Kate and Thad. Murdock is one of six children of Mac and Deanna Murdock, whose work ethic rubbed off on them all, he says. “We’re dedicated, committed, to whatever our endeavors may be. It is due to phenomenal parents that gave us chances,” he says.
The opportunity to host the state amateur is an honor. “It lets us showcase what a small-town municipal golf course can be,” Murdock says.
Howard Richman is GCM’s associate editor.