Golfers all know when you take a mulligan it is a second chance to hit a good shot.
Away from the golf course, Mulligan has become short hand for a do over, another chance to get something right.
Ken Murray, who is a long time member at Boscobel in Pendleton, was a very good golfer. Good enough not to need mulligans when he was winning tournaments around the upstate.
But now he needs a mulligan, but not to hit a longer drive, a better chip or sink a putt.
Murray needs a mulligan to save his life.
Over two year’s ago, Murray was diagnosed with severe kidney problems.
High blood pressure, diabetes and kidney stones had weakened his kidneys to the point that regular dialysis has been required.
Dialysis helped his kidneys function, but it also bought Murray some time to get his body prepared for his mulligan, a kidney transplant.
“When the Doctor tells you your kidney’s are going to stop functioning, its one of those moments you don’t forget,” said Murray. “You wonder if this may be the end and it takes a little bit to grasp,” he said.
On the course, when faced with a tough lie, Murray would pick the right club and bear down to make a good shot and get out of difficulty.
In life away form the golf course Murray has done the same thing.
“If you want to be on the list for a transplant you have to do everything right. Your heart has to be strong, your overall health has to be just about perfect. If you have anything wrong with you, you don’t get on the list,” he recalled.
Murray, who has always been a big guy, had to get his weight down and that helped his overall health and allowed him to be put on the transplant list.
“I’ve lost about 70 pounds to get ready. I’ve changed my diet and my habits and except for the problems with the kidneys my overall health is pretty good,” he said.
As a golfer, Murray could “move it” as they say, but also had the skill and imagination to possesses a short game that helped him win.
He doesn’t play much anymore. In addition to preparing for the transplant, Murray had a few surgeries that left him without the same passion for the game he once had, back when he became the one and only winner of the mythical Anderson County Slam.
The “Slam” included wins at the Anderson County Amateur, the Southern Oaks Open, The Earl Wooten Invitational and the Budweiser Classic.
Add in wins like his top finishes in the old Summit Cup, The JP Traynham and any number of victories in club championships, member-guest tournaments and dog fights all attest to the quality of his game, when he wanted to play.
“I just haven’t felt like playing much, plus I can’t play anymore and I’m as weak as water right now,” he said.
After doing all the things required to be a candidate for a transplant Murray has moved to the top of the current transplant list.
The call to go to MUSC in Charleston for the transplant could come any day. Murray has learned MUSC is considered one of the best hospitals for this procedure and he has confidence in his doctors.
“I’ll be in Charleston for about 8 to 10 days. The first five or six will be in the hospital. After that I need to stay close so they can keep track of my blood work and give me the anti-rejection drugs, said Murray.
With his overall good health and a good outcome in Charleston, Murray’s doctor’s believe he can make a good recovery and use his mulligan to once again have a good quality of life.
“When I talked to the transplant surgeon and asked him about what happens after the operation, he asked me how old I was. When I told him I was 61, he said with the new kidney you’ll make it to 80. You can sign me up for that right now!” he joked.
While the operation and his health are what Murray and his wife Andrea are most concerned about, after the operation they know even with insurance there will be a big bill to pay.
And that is where the Boscobel community is pitching in to help.
“Ken and Andrea are part of our family and we want to do whatever we can to help them get through this,” said Jon Guenthner, a co-owner and manager of the course.
The club is hosting a special benefit tournament to help the Murrays’ defray some of the expected $100,000 in medical bills not covered by insurance.
“We are going to have a tournament, Murray’s Mulligan, is what we are calling it. It is on Thursday, October 6th. We have had a great response and expect to have a full field,” said Guenthner.
Friends who would like to contribute can buy a hole sign or simply make a contribution to a site that helps with these kind of medical bills.
“We hope between the tournament and friends who want to help, we can put a good size dent in the medical bills Ken and Andrea will have to deal with,” said Guenthner.
Murray says he has been amazed, surprised and humbled by the number of people who have expressed concern or offered to help.
“Anybody who knows me knows I’m rarely humbled, but the support and well wishes have been overwhelming. I can’t say how thankful I am for the support I have received, but thank you,” he said.
When the phone rings and Murray sees the 843 area code he will be off to Charleston within minutes.
With a positive outcome from the transplant, Murray’s friends can expect to see him, once again, at Boscobel telling stories and maybe even back on the golf course.
And the best story he will have to tell will be about the mulligan he finally took that saved his life.
Editor: Updates on Murrays health and the transplant https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100064656048231
Categories: Upstate Amateur Golf