Jacqui Hurley – My life in golf

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RTÉ presenter Jacqui Hurley (Image: /Sportsfile via Getty Images)

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Jacqui Hurley is one of Ireland’s most popular sports broadcasters and chat show hosts and has been gracing our radios and TV screens for years. Most notably, she presents The Sunday Game highlights on RTE among various other programmes. Jacqui started her golf journey in 2019 and was kind enough to sit down and answer a couple of questions about her life in golf.

Home club and handicap?  Dun Laoghaire. 25 and doing very little to take it down!

When did you first start playing golf and what drew you to it? I joined a society in Leopardstown in 2019. It was something I was always interested in but just never had the time. I found I was being invited to play golf at different occasions and felt it was time to finally go and learn. Honestly, it was one of the best decisions I ever made. Leopardstown was a fantastic way to learn with no judgement, the girls in the Wednesday Hotshots were a great laugh and I had so much fun.

Does your background in Camogie help your golf game? Absolutely. I think there’s definitely a benefit to having good hand eye co-ordination and it probably helps with being a bit longer off the tee.

During your career as a successful broadcaster and presenter, as well as having a family, how do you find the time to play golf? That’s the hardest part, I just don’t have the time to play as much as I’d like. I should really be playing off a lower handicap, but I’m still playing basketball and football too, so it’s hard to do it all. But the way I see it, I’ll be playing golf for a long time, so there’s no hurry, I’ll get there eventually…I just have to remind myself of that from time to time!

You played in the Irish Open Pro-Am in 2023, what was that experience like? I was nervous beforehand that I’d make a show of myself, but it was amazing! I played with Nicci Daly, Val Mulcahy and Anna Caplice. Our two pros, Nicolas Colsaerts and Scott Jamieson, couldn’t have been nicer. I think when they rocked up and saw three girls on the tee box they were probably a bit nervous, but as soon as we all hit off they were relieved we could all play. We had a great laugh, and it was such a fantastic experience.

Who is the best golfer you’ve played with and what was it about them that impressed so much? I’ve been lucky enough to get to play with Leona Maguire and honestly her putting is on another level to anything I’ve seen in the pro game. Her short game in general is phenomenal but watching her read and putt on the greens is an experience. She is a special talent.

Any particular favourites among the pro-golfing ranks? I’ve always loved Padraig Harrington for his ambition and drive to keep getting better. I also love how much he helps other Irish golfers, they’re so lucky to have a role model like him who is willing to help. Outside of the Irish golfers, I enjoy watching Tommy Fleetwood and Jordan Spieth.

Any other sporting figures that are particularly impressive on the fairways? I think you’ll see a lot more of Johnny Sexton on the fairways now that he’s retired. Brian O’Driscoll is very good too. Niamh McEvoy and Dean Rock are a handy pair on the course too. If there’s a husband-and-wife tag-team event in sporting circles, I’d have my money on them!

What’s the best course you’ve played and what’s top of the ‘bucket list?’ Hard to beat the Old Head of Kinsale! As for ‘bucket list,’ Pebble Beach has a unique draw.

Tell us about your own game. What are the strengths and weaknesses? Good off the tee, short game needs work!

Your bestselling book Girls Play Too has been a huge success. What inspired you to write it? Do you plan to keep releasing new volumes as more Irish women break boundaries?  Writing a book was always in the back of my mind and I think if you’re going to write a book it has to be about something you’re really passionate about. Keeping girls involved in sport is really important to me and I wrote Girls Play Too because there weren’t any books like it for young girls. I wanted them to see all the role models that are out there for them and to see what they can be. The great thing is there’s no shortage of them to write about…I just need to find the time!

And finally, you were the first ever female anchor of Sunday Sport on RTE Radio and your career has gone from strength to strength since then. You’re now the presenter of The Sunday Game highlights and Up For The Match alongside Des Cahill. What advice would you give to any young girls who want to follow in your footsteps?  The landscape has changed so much even from when I started in sports broadcasting. At that time there were very few females on air in sport, but now you look around and it’s so different, which can really inspire the next generation to know it’s a viable option for them. One piece of advice I would say is: ‘If this is something you really want to do then don’t take no for an answer.’  It’s not the easiest career to break into, but if you keep knocking on the door, eventually someone will answer, and an opportunity will come your way. There are so many ways into the industry now, so be creative!

This article featured in the 2024/4 edition of Irish Golfer Magazine. To check it out CLICK HERE.

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