PGA Tour players preach patience amid crisis

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Golfers are used to adapting to the situations at hand and changes that come up.

If they have a tough shot they’ve got to pull off, they will study the options and come up with the best plan. If there’s bad weather, they gear up and adapt to the conditions the best they can, with a lot of help from their caddies.

But dealing with the coronavirus pandemic — along with the rest of the world — has everyone fighting through a dynamic they may not have faced before: No work.

“I haven’t touched a club in three weeks,” said Charley Hoffman, a four-time winner on the PGA Tour. “It’s one of those things that’s nice but at the same time it’s also not nice. I never take this much time off in the middle of the year.”

There have been benefits as the Tour has been put on pause.

Betting when PGA Tour resumes will be tough

“It’s cool to see what the kids are doing in school,” Hoffman said. “Right now I’m a first and third-grade teacher (to daughters Claire, 9 and Katelyn, 6). My wife (Stacy) and I are taking on different tasks. It’s different than when we were growing up. They have iPads and the teachers download the lesson for the day. We watch the video and see how to do it.”

While he loves spending time with the family, he knows he’s got to get ready to go back to work, hopefully soon.

“When we get back is usually the time of year when I start to slow down,” Hoffman said. “I’m 43 now so my key is to let my body rest. I’ve been working out and we’re looking at June when we come back.”

And that timeframe is working out, at least in the planning stages. Right now, the PGA Tour is gearing up to resume June 11-14 at the Colonial in Texas. That will set up a run of events scheduled to run through Thanksgiving with at least the first four events without fans on site.

For now, it will still be separation for most players and coaches. That’s nothing new for Hoffman.

“My swing coach, Mark Blackburn, is based in Alabama,” he said. “So we do FaceTime and all of that a lot. It’s not ideal but it’s working.”

Now it’s time to start thinking about finishing the year strong.

“Obviously this is going to be a fresh start, mentally, for everyone,” he said. “I’ll have the same mindset to win every golf tournament I enter but now it’s going to be tougher with the time off. You may see me in some events I haven’t played in the past. In fact. you may see that from a lot of guys as they try to get qualified for the majors and try to get into the FedEx playoffs.”

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There has been more on Hoffman’s plate than many other players. He’s the Chairman of the PGA Tour Player Advisory Committee and has spent a lot of time on the phone keeping players updated.

“I’ve had a lot of calls with the commissioner (Jay Monahan) and with players,” he said. “As we’re trying to prepare to start, we have to stay in control and plan for the worst.”

He added that’s not what players want to hear.

“We’re not making any money right now,” he said. “There are no guaranteed contracts. We want to get back out there but it’s got to be at the right time.”

It’s also been a tough time for instructors.

Las Vegas’ Vic Wilk has been teaching the game of golf as a profession for 17 years, the last 10 at the famed Butch Harmon School of Golf in Henderson, NV.

From junior players to college players to the pros, it’s a challenge to get instruction. 

“I’ve got a half dozen that I’m working with (including PGA Champions prospect Kevin Baker) through videos and other options,” Wilk said. “Some are taking time off but the ones I’m working with will send in videos a couple of times a week and we’re going over them and making adjustments.”

He said it’s a little more labor intensive working online rather than in person. Whether it’s using hi-tech launch monitors or simply hitting into a net off a mat, Wilk said they will work to keep the swing smooth.

“I just try to get specific on camera views I need from them to focus on what they may need to work on,” Wilk said. “It’s certainly been a challenge for everyone.”

About the Author

Bill Bowman

Bill Bowman is a Las Vegas-based writer who has more than 40 years in the sports-writing business. He's spent the past 18-plus years covering the golf scene in Vegas including 10 years as a writer/editor with VegasGolfer Magazine. He also contributes to the GolfNow Network of websites and Las Vegas Golf Insider.

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