If there’s one thing you learn from listening to interviews with golfers over the years, it’s that it can be a very lonely sport. The hardest leap is going from top amateur to self-sufficient professional. Gary Hurley is mid-flight on his leap but it’s more of a leap of faith than a dive into the abyss given his talent and support network.
A likable but quiet figure, I spoke with Hurley in the months after his Walker Cup heroics along with long time playing partner Paul Dunne. His performances in 2015 landed him the Park Hotel Waterford Sports Star of the Year – an award he shared with athlete Tom Barr. The two men added to an illustrious list that includes Niamh Briggs, Dan Shanahan, Tony Browne, Paul Flynn, John O’Shea, Craig Breen and Sean Kelly.
“You try not to think about the livelihood. You just try and play as you always did as an amateur", says Hurley informing us that the main difference between the professional game and the amateur one is off the course rather on it. Managing himself is something he’s getting used to as he loosens himself from the apron strings of the Golfing Union of Ireland who looked after everything from coaching to printing off boarding passes.
The recent NUI Maynooth graduate and West Waterford club man who is based at the GUI facilities in Carton House is immersed in the sport sharing a house with fellow player Jack Hume and The Open championship high flyer Paul Dunne. "Not all all", is the response we get when we ask if Dunne’s recent successes adds pressure to his peers. "You’re happy for them and it really gives you something extra making you want to get to that level but I just want to improve every year and if I keep doing that I believe I will make it hopefully sooner rather than later”.
If Gary Hurley’s curve continues on it’s upward journey we’ll have many chats with him over the years but we didn’t spend too long with him, this time around as his family and what seemed like every member of West Waterford golf club was waiting in the Ballroom to celebrate his latest award. The roof stayed on the Park Hotel that evening despite the massive cheers that threatened
The roof stayed on the Park Hotel that evening despite the massive cheers that threatened it’s place on top of the hotel when the announcement of Hurleys win was made. “ It could be dangerous” was his response with a smile when I ask how rambunctious the celebrations would be at West Waterford golf club if he won a big tournament.
My Colleague Dermot Keyes playfully suggesting in the background “tables would be set on fire”. The crowd and club draw parallels with Clara and Shane Lowry and Hurley makes no secret of the fact that the World number 21 he holds in great esteem. “Quiet but confident” is how one of his club mates describes the friendly Deise man and having met him only briefly we're already fans of the talented mister Hurley.