Tourism and Sport … Two of the biggest drawcards economically in our area. We are blessed in the Manning-Great Lakes, with some of regional NSW’s best sporting facilities.
Our golf courses are renowned for being both challenging to serious golfers and attainable for weekend hackers like me. This month we talk to a local business owner who has turned his sporting passion into an innovative business. Let’s meet Rob Hurley of Rob Hurley’s Pro Shops Forster and Tuncurry.
Rob, you’re a relatively new local, starting the business in just 2014. Tell us how you came to be the Pro at Forster and Tuncurry?
After working as the Operations Manager at Parkwood International Golf Complex, I was looking for an opportunity to start my own business and get back to my roots as a Golf Professional. I’m passionate about the growth of the game and directly helping people by providing services to enhance their golfing experience. I’ve been very fortunate to have the Forster Tuncurry club provide me with a platform to be directly involved with the community and work in an industry that I love.
Family is such a common denominator in our area. Who makes up the Hurley household, and how do you juggle time between work and life?
I haven’t found the secret to this challenge yet, but I’m certainly in pursuit of that balance. My wife has been so supportive of the move here and starting this new adventure together. As a primary teacher, she has always wanted to work in a smaller, community school, and things have fallen into place for us here. We feel lucky to be raising our young son in this beautiful coastal environment and with a new baby on the way, we are looking forward to continuing to raise our family here.
You would have seen and even played with some champions in your past, particularly in QLD. Come on, name drop for a moment … Is there someone in particular that stands out whom you either worked or played with?
I attended high school at Hill International College, which has been a pathway for many great golfers. I trained alongside Jason Day; he was a few years younger than me, but from early on his talent was obvious. Watching one of the true, modern champions of our game develop his skills and perform at such a high level has been inspiring.
What kind of services are you offering at the Pro Shops?
From the beginning, I’ve been focused upon providing personalised service to ensure all aspects of the game are easier and more enjoyable. This involves access to quality products, lesson packages, equipment repairs and general advice. We offer a junior’s programme and our popular Ladies’ Birdie Clinics; both are avenues to introduce new players through social and supportive lessons.
You’re using some innovative new equipment, which we sampled at a charity golf day a few weeks ago. (Thanks for not making my slice look too bad.) Tell us about this technology and how it can be utilised.
We use Flightscope radar technology, along with Swing Catalyst teaching software to simultaneously analyse the ball, club and player’s technical movement. These tools are currently used by the best touring professionals in the world and are at the forefront of leading golf technologies. This all takes place in our newly fitted Golf Simulator Studio. The Golf Simulator is something everyone should try; there are 15 courses from around the world you can play, and it can be done inside and free of weather. What a great opportunity for locals to play on world class courses right here in Forster!
Being a young family man, you would love to see more local kids enjoying golf. What is you can do to attract and encourage more use of the facilities and better golf?
The growth and health of the game is dependant on what we are doing right now to attract kids to our game. Firstly, we make sure it is accessible through school programmes, holiday camps, and weekly programmes. I believe it’s more about having fun and working on athletic skills like kicking, jumping, throwing, balance and co-ordination. To do this we play all sorts of games, which might not seem golf related, but we are building skill that will develop them for life. I believe if we expose kids to the golf early and make it fun, they may continue a career in golf or may come back as an adult and be a regular participant in the game.
The now annual TJL Ronald McDonald House Charity Golf Day was held a few weeks back. Would you like to see more corporate and charity events?
I am very privileged to be apart of the TJL Ronald McDonald House Charity Golf Day. What Ronald McDonald House provides for families locally and nationally is astonishing, and to be a part of it in a small way is very rewarding.
Growth in this area would be great for us all. I have noticed a lot of the traditional corporate days have evolved and partnered up with charities to provide a great experience for the customers and give back to their communities through charities.
What is the best part about being in business in The Manning-Great Lakes?
For me, it is the people. There is an obvious and expressed support for our local businesses that I have not experienced anywhere else. I feel like my customers and the community genuinely want me to succeed, and they do everything they can to assist. The Manning- Great Lakes is a truly unique and beautiful place to do business and raise a family.
What a great rap for local business from a newcomer to the area. Rob, thank you and – officially – welcome to The Manning- Great Lakes.