Craig Hurlbert spent summers on his Montana farm with his grandfather. He learned the game of golf and life lessons there, which have helped him achieve his highest ranking in business and amateur golf.
Carl Hurlbert, Hurlbert’s great-grandfather, immigrated from Denmark to Canada in 1923. Marie Hurlbert’s grandmother came with her family to Canada in the early 1900s. Like many European immigrants in the late 19th century and early 20th century, they were processed at Ellis Island. They were married in 1930 and settled in Montana, where they started what is now Wheat Wind Farms.
Quick forward 36 years, and Craig, then 13, bought his first golf club with his Bapa. Craig worked on the farm during the summer and the two would play in a league at Big Muddy Golf Club twice per week.
Big Muddy, a nine-hole, sand-green course that was closed in 2012, was where the players played twice a year. Here Hulbert and his grandfather fell for the game of golf.
Hulbert said Golfweekspan>”font-weight 400 ;”>. He loved golf more than anyone else. It was a lot of fun for him. It was not something I dreaded .”
Hurlbert grew older and became more proficient at playing the game back in Billings, “on real golf course” where he really honed his skills.
Craig quit collegiate golf after a year playing at New Mexico State. He now studies finance and business at San Diego State. Shortly thereafter, he received a Masters in Corporate Finance from Long Beach State. Hurlbert then entered the business world.
This created a gap in Hurlbert’s golf game. Hurlbert never played competitively until he began playing with elite senior amateurs at Carlton Woods in Houston, Texas.
He said, “I was right there with them.” “I thought to myself, ‘jeez! maybe my game can stack .'”
Hurlbert was a man in no man’s place at the time. He was 53 years old and could not hang out with the mid-ams, but he was too young to participate in senior events. He saw the advantage in having this time. Hurlbert had taken two years to get his game in competitive shape and was ready to compete on the senior amateur circuit.
He turned 55 in 2017 and only played a handful of events. He played in nearly 30 events in 2018 and 2019. He had eight top 10 finishes, a quarterfinals spot at the Golfweek Senior Amater Matchplay, and was runner-up at the 2019 Golfweek Tournament of Champions. Hurlbert was not satisfied despite being successful. He turned to his wife Stephanie for help in November 2019.
Stephanie was a professional on the Symetra Tour in its early years. She knows what it is like to be under pressure and compete with the best in the world.
span style=”font weight: 400 I came home at the close of ’19, and said that I wouldn’t do this anymore if it doesn’t work out,” Craig told Stephanie.
She responded with a simple question: “What is happening to me under pressure?” Craig was able to see the flaws in her game and began to be honest about it. He was a tireless worker on short putts, and worked with his driver to get from a draw down to a fade.
Hulbert laughed and said, “font-weight 400 ;”>” I bet I hit a million five foot putts between November 15th & January 1st.” “The draw became something I couldn’t control under pressure… so I worked on hitting a baby fade. I was literally so tired of hitting so many drivers .”
Craig, a premier ball striker who can hit a lot of distance, set his sights on 2020 with a renewed mindset and hunger. Combining these lessons with those he learned while growing up on the farm with his Bapa, Hurlbert was certain to make a splash.
Hurlbert reapeared the benefits of the offseason by playing at the Old Corkscrew Senior. Not only did he win his first senior amateur title but he also won a playoff against Ken Kinkopf, the 2019 Golfweek Player-of-the Year.
Hurlbert proved it was not a fluke by following up the win with another win the next week and a third place finish. Another win at the Golfweek Senior National Matchplay, and the Society of Seniors Founders Cup added to the great start of the season. Hurlbert was named Golfweek’s Player Of The Year after a remarkable 2020 season that saw him finish just one place outside the top 15.
He said that it was a two-year process of learning and playing in 18-20 events to really understand what was going on inside my body. To really understand my body .”
After such a successful year, Hurlbert decided to take 2021 off in order to concentrate on his business ventures. Local Bounti went public on the New York Stock Exchange on December 3, 2021. This company, which he founded in 2017 with his wife, is now the CEO. His roots are the core of the company. Local Bounti, an agricultural company, is located in Hamilton, Montana. It produces non-GMO greens all year and is just a few minutes west of Billings, where Hurlbert was born.
Hurlbert’s American dream was reaffirmed by his grandfather, who taught him lessons on the banks of Montana’s Big Muddy River at a nine-hole, sand-green course.
Hurlbert is armed with the wisdom of his grandfather, a great golf game, and smart business senses. He hopes to defend his title at 2022 Golfweek Senior Challenge Cup. His team beat Gene Elliott’s in the 2021 Cup. Hurlbert will face Rusty Strawn’s squad this year and will be his playing captain. His team hopes to win again.
Hurlbert said that span style=”font weight: 400 ;”>”Rusty is a dear friend.” “When we play at these tournaments, three to four or five of us go out to dinner for the couple evenings that we are there… I really look forward to the Cup in December and getting the men back together span>
The 2022 Golfweek Challenge Cup is played at Jacaranda Golf Club’s East Course, Plantation, Florida from December 14-16. To add drama to this exciting week, captains draw players by blind draw.