TURBO MAN AT THE TOP

The Cut - - DEAN MURPHY 19TH HOLE -

He doesn’t wear a bucket on his head when he at­tends Manawatu rugby matches, but rest as­sured that Dean Mur­phy, the CEO of New Zealand Golf, is a pas­sion­ate fan of the Tur­bos rugby team.

Rea­son be­ing that he was born in Palmer­ston North, was ed­u­cated at St Peter’s Col­lege — the same col­lege that shaped cur­rent PGA Tour pro­fes­sional Tim Wilkinson — stud­ied at Massey Univer­sity and started his work­ing life there with Lion Brew­eries.

Mur­phy, who is into his sixth year at the helm of New Zealand golf, says of his home town: “It’s where I first de­vel­oped a pas­sion for golf.”

Both his father and grand­fa­ther played golf, and be­cause there were al­ways clubs around the house, young Dean took to swing­ing them.

Then, when Mur­phy at­tended univer­sity his daily sched­ule be­came lec­tures in the morn­ing and golf in the af­ter­noon with a group of fel­low stu­dents.

“None of us kicked on as golfers as Tim Wilkinson did,” says Mur­phy, “but we all be­came pas­sion­ate so­cial golfers. The best I got to was a three hand­i­cap, al­though I cur­rently play off a seven.”

Scor­ing a hole-in-one at the par-4 sixth at Para­pa­raumu Beach in 1998 re­mains the high­light of his play­ing ca­reer.

Into his 20s, Mur­phy headed for the UK, on a six month hol­i­day — or so he thought. He stayed 10 years.

Al­though he kept his hand in with the oc­ca­sional round of golf — the sport re­mained a con­stant as his ca­reer un­folded — his main fo­cus was on the travel com­pany he ended up run­ning.

Hav­ing launched his busi­ness ca­reer in a sales and mar­ket­ing role with Lion Nathan, he flour­ished as man­ager of the travel com­pany that spe­cialised in fes­ti­vals, such as the Ok­to­ber­fest, and sport­ing events, which in­cluded han­dling All Black sup­port­ers groups.

“It’s where I got a thirst for man­ag­ing,” he says. “The com­pany achieved some great things, mov­ing up to ten thou­sand peo­ple a year.”

Af­ter a decade op­er­at­ing in the UK, Mur­phy rea­soned he should re­turn to New Zealand and start func­tion­ing “like a proper per­son”.

So in 2006 he re­turned to the land of the Tur­bos, set­tled in Welling­ton and took up a con­tract with New Zealand Post, which he rea­soned would de­velop his cor­po­rate ex­pe­ri­ence. But af­ter six months he con­cluded the cor­po­rate world wasn’t for him and when he saw New Zealand Golf was ad­ver­tis­ing a com­mer­cial­spon­sor­ship role, he ap­plied.

The rest, as they say, is his­tory. When CEO Bill MacGowan fell ill in 2009, Mur­phy stepped up on a tem­po­rary ba­sis, be­com­ing chief ex­ec­u­tive the fol­low­ing year.

Dur­ing his term in charge New Zealand golfers, headed by Ly­dia Ko and Danny Lee, have pros­pered on the world stage. Mur­phy ad­mits that some­times he has to shake his head to be­lieve what Ki­wis are achiev­ing around the world.

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