Five-time European Tour winner Michael Hoey will take up a role as a DP World Tour referee next month after announcing his retirement from professional golf.
The 43-year old Northern Irishman, who had been playing mostly on the Challenge Tour in recent years as he looked to regain his full main tour card, admits he’s excited for a new challenge after a twenty year career traveling the world and playing golf.
“It’s exciting, a new challenge,” Hoey told the BBC.
“After a long time as a pro golfer, which involves the total consumption of your life, you realise you have to do something else.”
During the pandemic, Hoey witnessed first-hand the fragility of his status on tour. With playing schedules decimated in Europe, he took up a role as a DHL driver to pay the bills, admitting he saw how the other side lived for a while as he awaited the resumption of play.
Still highly competitive, Hoey was in the hunt to earn DP World Tour promotion via the Challenge Tour’s Road to Mallorca right up until last season’s Grand Final but despite even proving his retained ability amongst the main tour stars at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, a tournament he won in 2011 and finished in a tie for 24th a decade later last year, the man from Ballymoney has decided the time is now to take on a new challenge.
“When the pandemic started in 2020, I started learning the rules and looking into that as I didn’t really know where the future lay,” Hoey said.
“I missed that whole year but had quite a good year last year and did quite well at the Dunhill Links so I proved to myself I could still play.
“But I’ve just turned 43 and I see so many good young players on the Challenge Tour now, it’s hard to make a living.
“I’ll always miss the thrill of competition but I’ve had two years to think about this and while I enjoyed it last year, you have to make a living out of it too and I’m happy with where I am.”
Hoey, who also can count four Challenge Tour titles amongst the silverware in his proud trophy cabinet, will officially begin his new job next month in South Africa.
“It’s a good opportunity to continue to be involved in golf, applying the rules, setting up golf courses and knowing when and how to speak to the players,” he added.
“Every golfer probably feels they have underachieved but I’m pleased that when I had opportunities to win tournaments, I took them.”
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