Story and photo by MC1 Cynthia Clark
Second-year Professional Golfers’ Association of America (PGA) member and former U.S. naval officer Billy Hurley III visited his former ship, USS Chung-Hoon (DDG-93), Jan. 8 at its homeport of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
Hurley, who served aboard the guided-missile destroyer from June 2007 to June 2009, is playing in the Sony Open in Hawaii on his second year as a member of the PGA tour. During his time on Chung-Hoon, he served as first lieutenant, after graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy in 2004.
“It’s awesome to come back and the ship looks great,” Hurley said. “The crew’s doing great stuff, everyone’s doing well, morale seems high and it’s really cool to come back.”
Along with some friends from the PGA tour, Hurley visited the bridge, combat information center, the mess decks and flight deck, giving him a chance to relive old memories and share a little bit of the Navy life with his fellow tour members. It was also a way for Hurley to re-visit the environment that gave him the discipline required for a PGA career.
“The Naval Academy and the Navy taught me a lot of mental toughness and time management,” he said. “Those are the two skills that I use a lot as a professional golfer, there’s lots of demands on our time, media stuff like this, fun stuff like this, but at the same time you still have to get work done and golf – that’s our job, so the Navy taught me a lot about how to manage it all.”
While it was a way for Hurley to reminisce about his Navy days, it was also a sense of pride for the ship’s crew to welcome a successful shipmate back on board.
“It means a lot, to have anybody who’s an alumni of the ship to bring them back, they’re always part of the community, we always try to share that with anybody, be it officer or enlisted, whatever job they may have, everybody’s always welcome back,” said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Tom Ogden, USS Chung-Hoon executive officer. “We have a great ship and we like to show it off, so it’s great to have him here and he’s always welcome back any time he’s back for the tournament. It means a lot.”
Ogden reinforced Hurley’s message about how the lessons learned in the U.S. Navy transcend to any walk of life.
“We want our crew to be successful wherever they go,” Ogden said. “So if we can teach them something here that leads to some success, be it on the ship or in the future, I think we’ve done our job as leaders – no matter where it is.”