South Charlotte

A golfer, father, businessman

Bob Neely looks like he grew up on a Florida beach.

With blonde hair, tan good looks and an easy going manner, Neely doesn't appear to worry about much.

"I'm actually from Jacksonville, Florida," Neely said. "I started playing golf when I was 10."

Participating in several sports, including baseball, swimming and basketball, golf was where Neely stood out. He played on his high school golf team, as well as for Guilford College in Greensboro for two years.

"I concentrated on getting my degree in business my junior and senior years, but still managed to hit the course every day. And I mean 365 days a year. You have to play a lot to be any good," said Neely.

After graduating, Neely joined the PGA Tour.

He went through the fun and stress of qualifying, obtaining and maintaining sponsors, and living out of a suitcase. He was known as a "rabbit," a term used to describe professional golfers who don't attain great success. So, after seven years, Neely decided he should reevaluate his career.

"I was good, but I wasn't great," he said.

So at age 30, Neely left the tour and followed his father's footsteps into the insurance/finance world. His father died 15 years later.

"I was so full of grief, a friend suggested we take a vacation to change the scenery," said Neely. "We went to Columbia, South America, and on our last day there, I met the woman who would become my wife."

Neely and his partner, Rodger Dawson, are now co-CFO's of Next Phase Financial in Ballantyne. "I enjoy helping people manage and grow their money," Neely said. "I only play golf about once or twice a month now."

Neely and his wife of 11 years, Lucia, are the parents of Hunter, 5, who will start kindergarten at St. Matthews Catholic School this fall. The family lives in Fort Mill.

"I'm teaching Hunter to play, though, and he's got a great swing already," Neely said.