97-year-old golfer still going strong at Stoneybrook

At 97, John “Johnny Rocket” Murray is going strong.
At 97, John “Johnny Rocket” Murray is going strong.(WWSB-TV)
Published: Sep. 16, 2021 at 12:31 PM EDT
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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - The Suncoast has had many great golf stories. But who knows the golfing story of John “Johnny Rocket” Murray from Palmer Ranch?

“I’ll be 98 October 30th,” the former school teacher and principal from Michigan says.

Johnny is a starter at Stoneybrook Golf and Country Club in Palmer Ranch. He’s been there since the club was founded in 1994. “There was a lot of dirt over here,” he says pointing to what’s now tennis courts.

The club matured and so did Johnny. He’s old enough to be the parent of most of the members, the grandparent for even more.

“He’s beyond a character. There’s only one -- There’s only one of him. They’ve never made another one of him!” said a guy walking off a green and wondering why a TV crew was tagging along with Johnny.

Johnny is a throwback who’s seemingly lived about three or four lives in one. Try to wrap your head around this: he served in both the European and Pacific theaters during World War II. He’s a retired teacher, principal, college football player, football and basketball coach, and the starter at Stoneybrook. Everyone here comes through Johnny. “He always run the show, everywhere he’s gone,” says bag room staff member Ted Carico.

When he’s not working at the club, Johnny’s working on his game. He plays three or four times a week. He’s shot his age so many times it’s hardly worth counting anymore. The first time he did it, he was 76.

And the nickname, “Johnny Rocket.”

“I guess it’s because I move fast,” Johnny shrugged.

Does he ever. And you can’t believe the fashion sense of the guy. On the day of our visit he sported a tam-o-shanter hat with a small pompom. That’s heady stuff for Florida. So were the plaid Bermudas, bright gold shirt and red-white-and-blue golf shoes.

“If you stay at home and sit on the couch you’re done,” Johnny says. So true. A wise man and a true legend among us.

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