Naval experience serves Hurley well on PGA Tour
Many people retire from their jobs and say the same thing when asked what they’re going to do next: “I’m going to play golf every day.”
But Billy Hurley III, who served as a naval officer from 2004 to 2009, plays on the PGA Tour for a living.
And quite well, as the 32-year-old made more than $1.1 million last season, finishing 91st on the tour.
On Thursday, Hurley shot a 1-under-par 70 in the first round of the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open at TPC Summerlin, where Military Appreciation Day is scheduled today. He is six strokes off the lead.
“It’s fun to see tournaments do special stuff for military and service members,” said Hurley, who was a lieutenant aboard a U.S. Navy destroyer from 2007 to 2009 while serving in the Persian Gulf to protect Iraqi oil platforms. “Each tournament does it a little bit differently, but the support of the PGA Tour, and really the fan base of the PGA Tour, is really strong toward the military, and that’s real exciting for me.”
Hurley said he looks at his careers in the military and golf similarly, in that he has been able to use intangibles as a Naval officer on the golf course.
“You wouldn’t necessarily think that, but you get nervous every time you tee it up, and you get nervous every time you get the ship underway and take the watch or drive the ship, so there’s some similar feelings that go on,” Hurley said. “Certainly mental toughness and time management are two huge things that I learned from the Naval Academy, and that serves me very well out here.”
Hurley said he knew he wanted to join the Navy at a young age. The Naval Academy was the only school he applied to, saying it was the right fit. He also said if he didn’t want to pursue a career in golf, he’d probably still be in the Navy.
Hurley, who won two ship-driving awards in the Navy, said even though he never was up against enemy lines, he was close enough in the Persian Gulf — about 10 miles off the coast of Iraq and 15 miles from Iran — to feel the tension.
“We were in the war zone, for two months one time and about a month and a half another time, so we were supporting the mission,” he said. “There wasn’t a point I feared for my life; I wasn’t on the ground getting shot at. We were there for 45 days, so that was tense. Definitely we were paying a little more attention when we were over there.”
Both careers have been a blessing, Hurley said.
“It’s certainly a blessing to be out here. I mean, I play golf for a living,” Hurley said. “I get to do it very well and enjoy that, but being in the military was a blessing. I had a great time in the Navy, loved the job in the Navy, loved driving the ship and just had a blast. I met some really good people, had 20 guys and girls that worked for me who are some of the brightest the nation has to offer and probably the hardest-working people you ever met.”
Hurley, who never excelled on a national level as a junior golfer, said his biggest thrill in golf was playing on the 2005 U.S. Walker Cup team.
■ MILITARY APPRECIATION — The Shiners Open invites all valley military and first responders with complimentary admission.
Military members and their families can enjoy the Birdies for the Brave Patriots’ Outpost, situated just behind the practice putting green. The large tent overlooks the ninth green and offers complimentary food and beverage.
PGA Tour players and fans will be able to express their well wishes as part of Military Appreciation Day, presented by Bonefish Grill. Everyone is invited to visit the Patriots’ Outpost and deliver thank-you notes to service members by writing personal messages on a banner located inside the tent.