Graduate student David Hurly hits a drive at the Temple Invitational on Sept. 16-17. Hurly's scores of 72 and 66 led Lehigh to a sixth-place finish in a 14-team field. (Courtesy of Lehign Sports)

Hurly gets the monkey off his back


Throughout his golf career at Lehigh, fifth-year David Hurly’s first collegiate win has always been mere putts away, just like the golf course he grew up on in South Africa.

“Pretty much since I could walk, I had a golf club in my hand,” Hurly said. “My dad was obsessed with the game, and I was always playing other sports, but my dad would always bring me on the golf course with him.”

As captain of the team for three years now, Hurly’s first win was celebrated by the entire roster and coaching staff as his team spirit and determination deemed him worthy of the win.

During his Lehigh career, Hurly said he constantly focuses on strengthening his mental game but said he always felt like he’s had “a monkey on his back” having never won an event. 

He said watching his teammates succeed while he was working so hard made him frustrated because, while he was happy for them, he knew he had the potential to be successful too.

This sentiment rang true until Sept. 17 when Hurly clinched his first collegiate win at the Temple Invitational and was named Patriot League Golfer of the Week for the week of Sept. 20.

“I had no idea I was in contention to win, so I was just playing and having fun,” Hurly said.

He said now it feels like almost all the pressure is off.

Assistant coach Joe Zelechoski said the win nearly brought him to tears, knowing that Hurly worked so hard to get to this point.

“I gave him a big hug and said, ‘This is just the beginning,’” Zelechoski said. “He’s been not only a super player but a super person and leader on the team.”

Hurly said he began to take golf more seriously after moving to Philadelphia at age 13 and refocusing what his career could look like moving forward.

He contacted Lehigh early on in high school about playing at the collegiate level.

“(Hurly) contacted us before he got good as a junior player,” Zelechoski said. “I got back in touch with him, he had seriously improved, we brought him and his family up here for a visit, and we offered him a spot.”

He said he decided to play at Lehigh because he wanted to be close to home. He loved the team and was impressed with what the program was accomplishing. 

After studying finance for his undergraduate degree, he returned to Lehigh to pursue a master’s degree in engineering and technical entrepreneurship.

“I bleed brown, and I couldn’t bring myself to leave my best friends and play somewhere else,” Hurly said. “When I thought about where I want to be, I just felt like if I was going to be successful, this was the only place I could be at my full potential.” 

Coach Henry D’Alberto said Hurly has come a long way and is probably the most consistent golfer he’s ever coached.

“(The win) was well deserved, I’m really just happy for him, and I’m glad he got the monkey off of his back,” D’Alberto said. “It’s been excellent coaching him, and I knew right away from his (first) year that he was going to be a special kid, not even necessarily as a golfer, but just as a person.”

Hurly was appointed as a co-captain his sophomore year and has been a captain every year since. He is also actively involved in other athletic leadership programs through Flight 45.

“(Hurly is) probably one of the top-three captains we’ve ever had on the team, and I’ve been around for 17 years with Lehigh golf,” Zelechoski said. “If we could have players like (him) and leaders like (him) for the future, we’d never have any trouble on the team.”

Senior Edmund Broderick, Hurly’s co-captain, said Hurly’s hard work and competitive nature have made Hurly a successful leader both on and off the course. 

“It’s good to be around someone who works extremely hard but also knows how to keep it fun,” Broderick said. “He really loves what we do.”

Looking toward the future, Hurly is still deciding the path he wants to take after his fifth year but remains excited for the spring season and for the swings he has left.

“Playing at Lehigh has been such a blast,” Hurly said. “I just get to go play golf with my friends every day, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

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