Billy Hurley III: To My Dad

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By Billy Hurley III, PGA Tour Player

Dear Dad,

When I think about you and your life, my mind is flooded with memories.

I think of you coming home from work in the evenings and compulsively repairing things around the house — a door knob, the gutters, a window frame. I think of our Wiffle ball games in the front yard with me and my three siblings, playing until it was too dark to see the ball.

Most of all, I think of your golf lessons.

From when I first started getting serious about the game, our backyard served as our family’s personal driving range. We didn’t have much space. It was pretty barren out there. We didn’t have grass. We didn’t even have any balls.

But we did have a floodlight and my set of clubs.

Each lesson went the same way. I’d finish my homework and step out onto the back deck. You’d follow me out after putting down your police uniform  — your 10-hour shift having just ended (or sometimes, just about to begin). The floodlight on the house would cast your long shadow across the floorboards toward the yard, into the darkness.

Even though we don’t know why you did what you did, you made an incredible impact on everyone who loved you.

I would take my stance, fiddle with my grip and wag the club head just inches above the deck. And then your voice would cut through the silence.

“Alright, Billy. Take a swing.”


“Another one.”


“One more time, but hold it at the top.”

I’d take the club back and stop midway through my swing, holding as still as I could. And then I would turn my neck and look at you.

“The club is not pointed at the target, Billy.”

I’d take another swing.

“Nope, that’s not it. Hold on.”

You’d walk over to me, grab my arm and tweak the position of the club.

“Alright, take the club back again.”

With all the changes, everything would feel foreign — almost as if I had never picked up a golf club in my life. It was infuriating.

“Dad, are you kidding me? This doesn’t feel right at all.”

You’d look at me, head tilted a bit, arms crossed. I knew what you were going to say. I knew exactly what you were going to say.

“I don’t care what it feels like, Billy. Feeling is not reality.”

I’d loosen my grip, let the club head hit the ground and just stand there.

Feeling is not reality.

Feeling is not reality.

Feeling … is not … reality.

Read the rest of Billy’s story.