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Dec 23, 2021

‘Swinging at Air’ Tells Humorous Story of One Golfer’s Struggle with Compulsion and a Complete Lack of Competence

By Shanna O’Mara

Throughout the pages of his self-published book – he saw a super-saturated market and said, “Me too” – which is part comedy, part tragedy, Monmouth County resident Brian Murray analyzes his golf swing and his lot (“or less,” as he joked) in life. From the position of his feet to the rotation of hips, Murray documents the subtle changes in his movements and the results he observes after the ball leaves the tee. He is also refreshingly honest about how often that ball finds the shadows of a tree or the pit of a sand trap. Murray said if there’s one thing his book can deliver on, “It’s making any golfer who reads it feel better about their own game by comparison.” 

“Swinging at Air” tells the longer story of what the title suggests. Murray, an avid golfer who has always longed, however haplessly, to improve his game, opens up about the real work he has put into the game while lacing his lessons with self-deprecating humor. 

“Ironically, the birthplace of my game was at the ‘happiest place on Earth,’” he said. “My first time out on a golf course was in Disney World when I was 7 years old. My golf career started as a matter of convenience and nagging. I have two younger siblings. My father would want to play golf, and my mother would say, ‘Wait a second. You’re leaving me for four, five hours while I have all the kids?’ One of the solutions was to get me out on the golf course as quickly as possible to better allocate the parental responsibilities.”

In the years since childhood, Murray joked that his golf game plateaued in grade school. 

Regarding his book, he added, “I don’t know if there is a terribly compelling narrative in my golf swing, the same way seeing a guy hit his head against a wall for two hours might not make great cinema, but I thought my experience would be relatable and amusing for most golfers. The book’s journal format allowed me to convey the message and humor of my struggles, which I don’t think are unique to me. Even at the highest level, everyone experiences ebbs and flows. Not that I’ve ever been in close proximity to those levels, but that’s what I’ve heard commentators on television say.”  

Realizing his own ebbs and flows in 2016, Murray began taking notes of techniques he would try to improve his swing. 

“I realized that I was making the same mistakes that I have been my entire career,” he said. “I’ve never been a great golfer, and never even as good as I would like. I’ve always struggled. I would come up with these different swing ideas and try them out. As time progressed, I would either forget about them or they would mutate into something else. As time went on, I would find myself reverting back to ideas I knew I had, but lost, somewhere in the past. My mistake iterations were getting to be cyclical. I started [taking notes of my swings] to combat that, to get more organized.”

Later that year, he grew frustrated with his lack of progress and took a break from the project. It wasn’t until 2020, when he was transferring files to a new computer, that he found the document.

“I came upon this, and I was sort of shocked to see that nothing had changed,” Murray laughed. “I was in the same exact place in 2020 that I was in 2016. I started taking notes again. From there – I don’t know if it helped or hurt – I started deriving humor from myself and the ways I was thinking about my swing. It progressed into the output that is this book, which is far from a technical manual of my swing but more of a journal of my golfing soul.”

He published “Swinging at Air” in 2021. The book is written in the style of a daily journal, with informative and hilarious footnotes accompanying nearly each entry. Murray said he choose this style of writing, rather than traditional chapters, because he “thinks, speaks and writes in tangents.” The footnotes allowed him to tell side stories and jokes while the entries maintain continuity throughout the book.

One story he shared was that of his most memorable golfing experience, playing at the renowned Pine Valley Golf Course in southwestern New Jersey. There, he joined one other foursome for a quiet day of spectacular golf.  

“Getting to play Pine Valley is definitely the crown jewel in my golfing resume,” Murray said. “It has been consistently ranked the best golf course in the world. I got to play there through some luck and a lot of generosity – and a security guard who happened to be napping on the job. Trespassing jokes aside though, just because of the prestige of the course, it was the most nervous I have ever been on a first tee.”

From prestigious playtime to poking fun, Murray has the range to do it all – and tell his story in the process. Although his swing hasn’t improved much in the past few years, his appreciation and love for the game of golf certainly has. To read more of Murray’s story, purchase “Swinging at Air” on Amazon.