When Coe Murdock graduated from Mountain Brook High School in Birmingham, Alabama, recently, he never hesitated in choosing a tie to wear to his ceremony.
He dug into his closet and pulled out the one gifted to him by Jim Nantz of CBS Sports when Murdock attended the Masters in 2013.
“I was so honored to hear that nine years later Coe wore my tie to his graduation,” said Nantz, who inscribed the back of the tie at the time with a note reading: To Coe, My friend. Dream Big! 4/14/2013. “Sometimes you meet young people and just know they will successful in life. This is one of those people who has a presence about him and natural kindness and respect that will take him a long way. It may even lead to saving him a seat at CBS.”
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In 2012, Murdock’s parents encouraged him to write a letter to Nantz because he was developing a deep affection for sports, particularly golf, and had visions of hosting the CBS broadcast someday like Nantz. The longtime voice of CBS Sports received the letter and responded with a note and signed picture.
“I thought that was going to kind of be it,” Murdock wrote in a recent email.
But the following April, his grandmother had badges for the Masters and took Murdock and his father to the Augusta National Golf Club for the first time.
“At the time, all I really cared about was getting golf balls and autographs so of course I wanted our chairs to be on 18 green along the rope,” Murdock recalled.
Murdock’s grandmother shared the story of Nantz’s letter to a security guard named Bill standing watch outside the 18th tower and wondered if her grandson could meet his hero. A few hours later, Bill informed them that Nantz would like to meet and led young Coe up the tower. Nantz ended up inviting Murdock for another treat: to Butler Cabin after the Green Jacket Ceremony.
“I was so new to golf I had no idea what that was,” Murdock recalled.
Just 15 minutes after the Green Jacket presentation, Coe sat in the exact chair Adam Scott had spoken with Nantz.
“We talked for a few minutes and he took off his tie and signed the back and said that he loved giving people his ties, it was almost a tradition at events to do that and he gave me his that day and referenced for me to wear it for my senior graduation,” Murdock recalled.
In the ensuing years, Nantz watched Murdock grow up. They exchanged hand-written letters and pre-COVID, not a year passed without Nantz spending time with him at Augusta National.
Murdock held on to Nantz’s purple tie from Saks Fifth Avenue. It’s important to note that Nantz, who never repeated wearing ties on the air, didn’t give this keepsake to Murdock or others seeking attention. It was intended to be a kind gesture to someone he admired, respected, or, in Murdock’s case, as a source of inspiration. Somehow, along the way, the story of Nantz gifting ties (including to a senior player on an NCAA basketball championship team) got taken to a place where it lost its original meaning. He stopped giving them away.
But in the end a beautiful thing came out of it when Vineyard Vines created a “Forget Me Knots” tie with proceeds benefiting the Nantz National Alzheimer Center in Houston. Over the course of several years, more than six-figures was raised for research to a cause near and dear to Nantz. (His father died of Alzheimer’s in 2008.)
And there’s no doubt that Nantz’s tie meant a great deal to Murdock, who was helped his high school golf team win its fifth consecutive state championship earlier this month. Murdock will be headed to Auburn in the fall. As he was getting ready for his high school graduation ceremony, he told his dad he should wear the Nantz tie.
“It was cool, too, because my grandmother who had first taken me to the Masters and started this whole thing was in town from Charlotte,” he said.
“For a long time, I wanted to get into sports journalism and do what (Jim) does but recently I’ve changed my mind just as I got older and really realized just how hard the job is,” he wrote in an email to Golfweek. “The Masters and the whole experience with him definitely made me fall in love with the game though and I’ve loved it ever since. Even if I don’t go into journalism, the impact of that first year was big for me and golf.”