What Did Las Vegas’ Charley Hoffman Do To Improve on PGA TOUR

Charley PuttingHoffman’s Improvement in 2015

By Steve Carp
Las Vegas Review-Journal
The talent was always there. But Charley Hoffman needed to find some consistency in his golf game to be a star on the PGA Tour.

At 38, the former UNLV standout finally found it last season, winning $4,041,089 and finishing 10th in the Tour’s FedEx points chase with seven top-10 finishes in 28 events. And as he starts his 2016 season this week in familiar surroundings of TPC Summerlin for the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, Hoffman hopes to build on what he did in 2015.

“Everything sort of clicked,” Hoffman said. “Obviously when I played good and I was in contention I played fairly well. If you go into Sunday fifth, you want to improve on that. If you go into Sunday first, you want to maintain that. I was able to do that. My Sunday scoring average was the best it’s been and that equated to a very good year.

“Right now, it’s all pretty good. I’d like to drive the ball a little better and hit more fairways. Obviously, you can always make more putts. I putted pretty well in spurts last year. But I did everything pretty solid. My short game is good. My wedge game is good. It’s probably one of my strong suits right now.”

His season included a victory at the OHL Classic, a tie for second at the Humana Challenge and the AT&T Byron Nelson, a third-place finish at the Deutsche Bank Championship and a tie for ninth at The Masters.

Hoffman spent Monday playing in his Foundation’s Charity Pro-Am event at TPC Summerlin to raise money for several causes, including the Shriners Hospitals, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, Goodie Two Shoes, and Blessings in a Backpack.

“It’s great to see how much it has grown since we started 10 years ago,” Hoffman said of his event, which has raised more than $1.5 million for charity. “It’s a great feeling to give back to the community and I’m so glad we do this every year. It means a lot to me and (wife) Stacy.”

Hoffman said that when he looked back on his success in 2015, there was one element that did change — he got a new caddy.

Brett Waldman replaced Hoffman’s longtime caddy Miguel Rivera on the bag and Hoffman said he didn’t know if he was doing the right thing at the time.

“I sat back last year in the offseason and the only thing I hadn’t changed in 10 years was my caddy,” Hoffman said. “It was a risk. It wasn’t one of those things he did or said to make me mad to want to change. It was more me looking back and analyzing what I could do better.

“Obviously, it worked.”

Hoffman finished fourth in the FedEx race in 2010 after winning the Deutsche Bank Championship and earning $2,559,646 that year. He has earned $18,566,846 since joining the Tour in 2000, and said experience has also been a factor in his current success.

“It gets easier but it gets harder at the same time,” he said. “The travel with the family is a challenge, but at the same time, you know the towns you’re playing in so there’s some familiarity with going to places you know.”

Hoffman said having his daughter, Claire, around has helped him from a mental and emotional standpoint. She turns 5 next month,

“When I come off the course, I’m a dad and it’s the greatest experience ever,” Hoffman said. “Seeing her after playing and being around her, it’s the best.

“I think she understands that I play golf but she thinks everybody plays golf. I’m sure one day she’ll understand. But every time I go to work she tells me to go make birdies and bring home trophies. Unfortunately I don’t bring as many home as she’d like.”

And nowhere would Hoffman like to bring home a trophy more than the crystal one the Shriners give out. He has come close before, finishing fourth two years ago. He tied for fifth in 2006 and finished sixth in 2009.

But he has missed the cut three of the last five times he has played TPC Summerlin, including last year. He he shot a 5-over-par 76 in his first round last year and failed to make it to the weekend despite a second-round of 3-under 68.

“It’s always a tough week here because I really don’t start thinking about the tournament until after the Pro-Am,” Hoffman said. “A lot of time and preparation goes into that.

“Would it be nice to chill out and take a couple of days off? Sure. But I wouldn’t change a thing. To see the smiles on the kids’ faces for the charities we support makes it all worthwhile. But I’ll start thinking about winning on Tuesday.”

The Shriners Open, begins Thursday and runs through Sunday

And if all goes well, Hoffman will have something to give to his daughter besides a hug and a kiss come Sunday afternoon.