January 29, 2010
By Laury Livsey, PGA TOUR Staff
For more than 20 years, PGA TOUR and Champions Tour veteran Craig Stadler hosted a fundraising golf tournament that benefited the San Diego Junior Golf Association. Two years ago, Charley Hoffman, who had just formed his own foundation, took over as host of the tournament. Earlier this week at Del Mar Country Club in the San Diego suburb of Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., a group of TOUR players, celebrities and people committed to helping junior golf played in the second annual Charley Hoffman Pro-Am. Prior to beginning play at the Farmers Insurance Open, this week’s PGA TOUR stop in nearby La Jolla, Hoffman discussed both the tournament and his foundation with Laury Livsey of the PGA TOUR’s communications department.
You have great support from fellow TOUR players and local celebrities. You couldn’t succeed without them, right?
First, I was so honored when the Association approached me about being involved. And then to see so many guys come out. We had Parker McLachlin, Chris Riley, John Mallinger, Nick Watney, Bill Lunde, Nathan Green, Cameron Tringale and Rickie Fowler and then Luke Wilson, Jeffrey Donovan of “Burn Notice,” Marshall Faulk and the (San Diego) Chargers’ Eric Weddle. The support we received was phenomenal.
The word is you keep the day fun and fast-paced. It seems to be working.
The tournament is a little different. We play a scramble, but we limit it to 18 paying groups and three other invited groups. So 21 total, and the pace of play was much faster than normal. We then went to Stacy Smith’s house. He’s part of the Salesmanship Club in Dallas who has a house in Rancho Santa Fe. We had an auction there, we had a band and it was definitely low key and not a black-tie event like you sometimes have.
As a former San Diego Junior Golf Association member and now a driving force raising funds for the organization that gave you so many fond memories, how passionate are you about your event?
My foundation was started to be able to help more than just one organization. But the San Diego Junior Golf Association is obviously very close and dear to my heart. This one golf tournament helps San Diego Junior Golf, but there are going to be other events and we’ll be making donations that will help more organizations.
You seem genuinely proud that your name is associated with this event?
I remember when I was finishing up my junior golf days, and Phil Mickelson took over a tournament in his name. It was our biggest event. And now with Phil being one of the best players in the world and me playing with him on TOUR, well, it’s a pretty cool honor to be a part of San Diego Junior Golf. That tournament has Phil’s name on it, and now my name is on this tournament. It’s here to help raise the money to keep the organization going and to keep the cost down so all kids can play junior golf, not just the privileged kids.
You came from a middle-class background in Poway, correct?
Yeah, we were totally middle-class. I remember it was only four bucks to play golf, and you got a hot dog at the turn. But the costs have gone up, obviously, and it’s a lot more expensive. Our tournament provides important funding for the Association’s programs and tournaments. We’re helping a lot of kids who might not otherwise be able to play golf.
People love watching you play today as a pro. I’m guessing it would have been fun to see you as a little kid.
Bill Lunde’s grandpa was the guy who got me started playing golf. After that, my parents dropped me off at the golf course, and I entertained myself. I think I probably drove the golf staff nuts. But it was such a good time. I would pick the range, whatever. I would do basically anything at the course for free golf.
Now that you’ve hosted two tournaments, are there any specific memories that stand out?
Actually, the generosity of everybody is what impresses me. The other professional golfers, the celebrities who come in and support the event and the good cause of junior golf make it so cool. Knowing the junior golf legacy is going to be able to live on is a great thing, especially for organizations that have a hard time making money.
Is it safe to say you are pretty intent on making sure everybody has a good experience at the tournament?
Yeah, I would say that’s what I’m trying to accomplish. I want people to come to this event because they want to come, not because they feel obligated to come. Sometimes, you go to charity events because you feel obligated for this guy or that guy, but I want people to be involved in the golf tournament, with my foundation, because they enjoy the golf tournament, they enjoy me, they enjoy coming to the party. I want them to come not because they feel they need to but because they want to.
When you see so many TOUR players supporting your event, you must reciprocate along the way.
Absolutely. If someone asks me to play, and I’m around and have time, I’ll usually never have a problem playing either for other guys on TOUR or for celebrities.
Since you’ve played in a bunch of these types of tournaments, and you have perspective, what percent chance does a Charley Hoffman-hosted event have of being tuxedo-only?
Zero percent. I can guarantee that much.
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