Golf Clap: Kelly Slater Interviews Bill Murray

Photos by Walter Iooss

The following are a few scenes from a day on a random golf course in Florida. Kelly Slater, 11-time world champion surfer, was looking for a golfing buddy and ended up paired with a gentleman named Bill who had been stretching on the practice green for a few hours. They ended up riding 18 together.

Walter Iooss, legendary photographer, happened to be at the clubhouse doing a tequila presentation to prospective clients the same day and Taylor Steele, ex-filmmaker and current resident golf pro, was doing laps in the club pool. He kindly decided to dry off and video a few of the holes for Bill and Kelly to analyze and support swing improvement. The group eventually found each other and the day turned out rather nice.

A golf cart zips across the course. Bill Murray is driving. Kelly Slater is riding with him. Kelly surveys the scene as the golf cart rattles through the course. Bob Dylan plays in the background.

Kelly: This is sorta classic Florida isn’t it? With the mossy trees.

*the cart comes to a stop and the pair unloads clubs with a RATTLE*

So, we talked about this once, your first experience surfing, was in Bali?

Bill: That’s right.

Kelly: And you ended up in G-Land somehow right?

Bill: Yup, ended in G-Land. Um, I met these guys… I met these characters and they took me to Padang-Padang.

Kelly: Which is a super dangerous spot.

Bill: Yeah, which is like stupid that I was there. And these guys were surfing some rights, and they put me on the wash, ya know? And I got pushed, Rory Russell, pushed me onto my first wave.

Kelly: See I was wondering how you and Rory became buddies, so it was through Bali.

Bill: He pushed me on my first wave at Padang-Padang. And, because I paddled out with those guys and I knew nothing about how to paddle out or where to paddle out or anything, he pushed me on it and it was a real 12-foot wave.

Kelly: Wave Number One.

Bill: Yeah, wave Number One and I, uh, I’d never really been on… I mean I surfed like, I sorta boogie boarded a little bit in Malibu, ya know Zuma or something, but never to anything like that, and to see like the wave pull up and see the reef.

Kelly: You’re not even thinking about riding the wave.

Bill: You’re looking at it like “what the hell is that?” So it took me all the way into the beach. And I thought that’s fantastic, I’m gonna do that again. And then I tried to paddle out through the break and I just got beat up.

Kelly: Yeah, you gotta go around.

Bill: Yeah. It was funny to just get beat up. And then I finally got out and started paddling out to a wave and just missed it and I thought “Ah, that’s alright I’ll get the next one,” and I did not realize that the wave had taken me into the impact zone. So there I was just getting beat up and dragged all the way into the reef. And I spent a couple of hours doing that. And then I decided I was gonna go watch them. Because they were surfing these things were they had to jump off right before the mountain, kinda thing, away from the rocks.

Kelly: Yes, there’s a cliff there. Maybe in Oahu or something or still in Padang-Padang?

Bill: No, still in Padang-Padang.

So I tried to swim across the break and my swimming stroke then was pretty much like a piper cub. So he watched me flounder for a little while. Then put my leash on his ankle and towed me through it.

Kelly: You know what year this was?

Bill: ’80

Kelly: ’80? Wow.

Bill: ’80. And so all of the sudden Rory Russell pulls in and says, “What are you doing out here?” And I said, “Well I was watching you guys. And he says, “You were in the middle of a riptide, your next stop was Africa.” I said “ really?” And he said “Go over there, you gotta go that way.”
So I tried to swim across the break and my swimming stroke then was pretty much like a piper cub. So he watched me flounder for a little while. Then put my leash on his ankle and towed me through it, across the break then I went back to getting beat up. But they were proud of me because I had lots of rash, lots of damage from the reef, so it was like, “Okay you’re in.” So. they figured I didn’t cry about it and I carried my own board, even though it was a boogie board. And that was it. Then I just started trying to practice swimming in the pool, because I realized my swimming was not anywhere near good enough to jump on a board. And they said, “We’re gonna take you to G-Land.” Ya know, that kinda shit like that. I was like “What the hell does that mean?” So, then we went to G-Land.

Kelly: And you did the boat and the car and the whole thing?

Bill: Yeah, the boat and the car and the whole thing. And you’re on this ancient boat. And it looks like something Ulysses had been on once-upon-a-time, except for the paint job. And, uh, all the way over there and you get there and wow what a, it was really the greatest week to be out there, I don’t know how long we were out there but they were making a movie, too.

Kelly: And that was Rory? Rory was with you there?

Bill: Yeah, it was Rory.

Kelly: And Jerry Lopez maybe?

Bill: No, not Jerry Lopez… oh God I’m so bad at names. Peter from Australia. And there was another guy, another Hawaiian tall guy. And Dickie was the camera guy. He was the guy doing the filming.

Kelly: That was Dick Hoole.

Bill: Was it Dick Hoole?

Kelly: Yeah. And then there was a guy named Jack Mccoy, and McCoy and Hoole worked together for awhile. Jack McCoy is now making a film with Paul McCartney right now, funny enough. Somehow there’s a connection there.

Bill: Surfing?

Kelly: No. He was going back through, his, uh, whole history of filming surfing, going back through the ’80s or ’70s, and Paul is doing some kind of music thing for it.

Bill: Paul is no surfer.

Kelly: No, no. But he’s kinda scoring it.

*TWACK of club on ball*

Oh, nice!

Sink or Swim

Kelly: How did you get into golf?

Bill: I was a caddy. My older brothers were caddies. And that was sort of what you did, in Illinois outside of Chicago. That was sorta how you made some money, we had a lot of kids.. So you sorta had to earn some money at a certain point.

Kelly: Yeah, how many siblings do you have?

Bill: I’ve got um, about five brothers, and three sisters.

Kelly: WOW.

Some Good People Never Were the Same After That

Kelly: So, Caddyshack. How did Caddyshack come around? How did you end up with that part? Did you write any piece of that? Were you ad-libbing a lot of it?

Bill: Yeah, I only had one line that was in my script. I was just sort of tossed in there and then they were shooting in Davie, Florida and I was working on Saturday Night. I came and did this one little scene and then they called me, “You want to come down and do another one?” I did that three times, three different times and I did more stuff. My brother was writing for that, with Harold Ramis, who directed it. Doug Kenney’s father was a tennis pro at a club in Cleveland, around Cleveland. Brian was a caddy also, so he was around that stuff.

Kelly: A lot of that stuff was just natural because you were around the caddyshack.

Bill: A lot of that was we knew that stuff. Yeah, so that stuff all came pretty easy. It was fun. There were a lot of fun people in that movie. That was a lot of fun. We lost some people on that.

Kelly: What do you mean?

Bill: It was too much fun.

Kelly: Too much, yeah.

Bill: We lost some people, some good people never were the same after that. It’s so funny when you’re with Rodney.

Kelly: He was incredible.

Bill: He was wild.

We lost some people, some good people never were the same after that. It’s so funny when you’re with Rodney.

Kelly: Cut through.

*points to short cut to the next tee box*

Bill: It’s all coming together, baby.

Kelly: Yeah, Rodney was wild huh?

Bill: Poppers and blow.

Kelly: Jesus Christ.

Bill: Here we go.

*hits ball exceptionally far*

You see, I found this place out by Malibu that was an old, tiny little old motel, like a ’50s kind of motel. They tore it down in the name of building some oil thing that was above it. They had a side building that was a discotheque. I remember when we were working on some dumb thing, I showed Rodney the place and the next time I came, Rodney was living there. He also lived where, in the compound at Davie where Caddyshack was filmed, it was like student housing kind of thing, like a dormitory, but he was so set there, he would go back there and stay months at a time in that place. Wild.

Kyle Kelly

*Kyle Kelly approaches Bill and Kelly*

Bill: Hi. How are you doing?

Kyle: How are you doing sir?

Bill: Okay. How are you doing?

Kyle: Good.

Bill: Are you changing property lines illegally?

Kyle: I can change it.

Bill: I can do that for you, sir.

Kelly: If you can move those out-of-bounds stakes on the hole before just a few feet that way, we would’ve won the hole.

Kyle: I can move it however you like. How are you doing, sir?

Bill: I’m okay. How are you doing?

Kyle: Great. I’m actually building this. I actually finished building that one and I’m finishing that one now.

Bill: What are you doing, the add-on? The screened-in and all that stuff or the whole thing?

Kyle: The whole thing.

Bill: Wow.

If you can move those out-of-bounds stakes on the hole before just a few feet that way, we would’ve won the hole.

Kyle: I’m the superintendent.

Bill: Thataboy.

Kyle: I’m trying.

Bill: Say, what’s your name?

Kyle: I’m Kyle.

Bill: Alright, say hi to Kelly.

Kyle: Kyle Kelly.

Kelly: I’m Kelly, how’s it going?

Kyle: Slater?

Kelly: That’s me.

Kyle: I thought you looked familiar.

Kelly: Yeah. Alright.

Bill: You’re the superintendent, dude. This is a power trio. This is like Cream.

Momentum Generation

Bill: So, how did you meet these Whalebone people?

Kelly: Taylor [Steele], the guy sitting over in the passenger side, is an old buddy of mine. We did a bunch of surf films together. He made a movie called Momentum, which was kind of like our coming out. We were in New York last week to do a release for a documentary about that film.

Bill: There’s a documentary about the making of that film now?

Kelly: It’s about the making of that film, but like about our group of guys growing up.

Bill: In Florida?

Kelly: No in Hawaii mostly. The documentary focuses on us becoming friends and having a little falling out. A friend had died. It kinda affected our group as a whole

Bill: Who was that?

Kelly: A guy named Todd Chesser, ’97 he drowned.

Bill: Where did he drown, Hawaii?

Kelly: Yeah Hawaii.

Bill: So how did he die? He hit his head on the reef or… ?

Kelly: No he just drowned, he got caught by a huge set. A whole bunch of waves one after another

Bill: And it just held him down the whole time?

Kelly: Yeah, he popped up his head after the first wave and kind of just shook his head like “Oh, shit.” Went back down and never came up again. He was recovered. A lifeguard buddy of ours went and found his body and pulled him up and it was too late. It was like 40 minutes later.

Bill: And what beach was that at?

Kelly: That was at… About a mile from Waimea, a place called Alligator Rock.

So, how did you meet these Whalebone people?

The George Foreman Grill/Putter

Kelly: I like your uh putter cover, the shoe.

Bill: Yeah. Isn’t that nice?

Kelly: I’m surprised that I haven’t seen it before.

Bill: What are you using?

Kelly: Putter-wise?

Bill: Yeah, are these your sticks?

Kelly: These are my sticks yeah.

Bill: Well what do you use for a putter cover? (picks through clubs, find Kelly’s putter) Oh shit, it’s not even possible. It’s not even possible, that’s a waffle iron.

Tennessee Waltz

Kelly: You know what movie I really love? Get Low.

Bill: Yeah, it’s a pretty film, too. The director was a cinematographer and the cinematographer was a cinematographer, so the two of them would take some serious time to make it beautiful. That Robert Duvall though, he’s–

Kelly: Duvall was amazing.

Bill: Oh geez. He’s really something. That was really something. I had fun with that. He is a tough … He’s a grizzled piece of character, that guy.

Kelly: Oh yeah. He seems like it.

Bill: I like stories like that. I saw on TV, an old frigging show. There was a guy named Ernie Kovacs, who was a really funny guy. He was the funniest guy of the day. He had a TV show. It was a clip from an old TV show and it was the original like, What’s My Line? Or “I’ve Got a Secret, something like that. The guy would come out and say, “What’s your secret?” and they’d have to guess it. This guy Ernie Kovacs was married to a really hot actress-dancer named Edie Adams who was a really funny and real sexy girl. So the panelists, the clip opens with them all kidding about how come she didn’t come home last night. Where was she last night? They’re all kidding about it and it’s kind of like half funny and kind of like half what’s going on?

They said, “What were you singing?” He said, “I was singing the ‘Tennessee Waltz.’” They said, “Why were you singing that?” He said, “It’s the only song I know.”

Kelly: Might be some truth there.

Bill: There might be some truth to it, so they’re going at it. Kovacs is funny and they’re being funny about it, but then they get this guy on the TV and they interview him. Finally his secret comes out, he’s a guy that was rescued at sea. He was rescued at sea and they said, “Well, how the hell were you rescued at sea?” He said, “Well, I fell off a boat in the north Atlantic. I fell off a boat and I had on a vest, because they made us wear vests, I had a vest and I was just sitting there. The fellow heard me singing.” They said, “What were you singing?” He said, “I was singing the ‘Tennessee Waltz.’” They said, “Why were you singing that?” He said, “It’s the only song I know.” Then they said, “Well, who found you,” and he said, “That guy,” and the camera cuts to the guy in the audience, and it’s the guy who found him. The look between these two guys, it was just so heavy it made me burst into tears. It was so crazy. It was such a strange run of this show that it started all this–

Kelly: That was true?

Bill: It was true.

Kelly: My God.

Bill: Ernie Kovacs is like, “I can’t imagine the terror of being floating in the north Atlantic at night. That’s the end of my life, you’re just singing and someone hears you, and the boat turns around and they find you.” Can you imagine? Can you imagine just finding someone?


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Can You Do All the Stuff?

Bill: How much school did you go to before you decided you were done?

Kelly: I finished high school and then started traveling.

Bill: In Florida?

Kelly: Yeah.

Bill: I’ve got a son that’s a boater. He’s a gearhead kinda kid.

Kelly: So a speed boater.

Bill: No, not super fast, motor boater. Big motor boater, anything with an engine. He’s got a rather large pickup truck big diesel, king cab thing. All that kind of stuff. I thought he might like going to school out there, in Hilo. Isn’t there a school in Hilo?

Kelly: Yeah there’s a UH over there.

Bill: That might be some place for him to go. Because he doesn’t study well. But I think if he went out there for awhile. I spent some time out there on a job and I thought, “He would like this.” I thought it would be kinda nice to live over there. Do you do much boating? Are you like a real waterman? Can you do all of the stuff?

Kelly: I used to do more. I grew up, my dad owned a bait and tackle shop in Cocoa beach, so I grew up fishing, boating. We lived on the canal, so we uh–

Bill: The canal? You mean the Intracoastal?

Are you like a real waterman? Can you do all of the stuff?

Kelly: Yeah, in Cocoa Beach, they kind of dredged all of the land up and like all of the land they pulled up, they made canals… this canal system from. Like in the river there is a bunch of islands.

Bill: I’ve never really spent any time there.

Kelly: Yeah so we kinda grew up just going out fishing on the boats and wake surfing behind the boat, because the waves were pretty small, around here.

Bill: You’ve probably seen this before, but we were going around the harbor in Charleston and the big boats come in there, I mean they are big shipping boats coming in there, and the dolphins ride the bow.

Kelly: So cool.

Bill: That is so cool.

Kelly: My friend has a six or seven minute long, non-stop super 16 film footage of dolphins riding the bow.

Bill: Unbelievable.

Kelly: And this dolphin like never moves its tail for like 4 minutes straight. It’s just sitting there, they curl their body in and just grab the energy. It’s so cool.

Bill: Yeah it was really something to watch. I couldn’t believe it. The sunset behind them and everything. It was really pretty.

*TWACK of the ball as Bill hits*

I Wish I Could Download My Brain

Bill: You’ve probably seen, probably just so many amazing things in the ocean.

Kelly: Yeah.

Bill: Many of which you were unable to document, right?

Kelly: Yeah, I wish I could download my brain.

Bill: You know you could probably do a picture book. You could probably have someone draw it, ya know? You could have someone illustrate it, just from you telling them what it was, ya know?

I’ve read that they’re coming up with this technology that can go in and see your visions or something and take a picture of it and put it into a holograph.

Kelly: Well I’ve read that they’re coming up with this technology that can go in and see your visions or something and take a picture of it and put it into a holograph. Your brain is a holograph, just thoughts in your head, so nothing is the storage of anything solid… it’s just a thought really. Weird.

Bill: Did you read this, that they discovered the largest organ in the body and they didn’t even know it existed?

Kelly: No! Really?

Bill: Yeah it’s just a interconnected, like a chain that goes through everything, it passes through everything.

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