Charley Hoffman: ‘Not one person at a country club would have took another penalty’

Charley Hoffman on Saturday during the WM Phoenix Open.

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Charley Hoffman, one day after blasting the PGA Tour, its rules officials and the USGA from either his cellphone or a computer, doubled down in the flesh on Saturday. 

“What I meant and what I said, I mean, I think I explained it fairly well,” he said.

Frustrated by an incident during Friday’s second round of the WM Phoenix Open where he misinterpreted the rules and was forced to take two penalty strokes after a drive into the water on the 13th hole at TPC Scottsdale, Hoffman unloaded on social media. Among his 280 words on Instagram, he wrote: “It’s still mind blowing that a group of amateurs rule the professional game of golf. I also blame the @pgatour rules officials for putting out a terrible penalty area line where this could even happen. No accountability at any level here. No protection for the players at all. You wonder why guys are wanting to jump ship and go play on another tour. Players need transparency, protection and consistency.”  

After his third round on Saturday, Hoffman was asked by a reporter what he “really meant.”

“Obviously not a huge fan of the USGA and how they govern us all the time,” Hoffman said. “I was under the impression that the rule had changed. And I was frustrated when the rule hadn’t changed, why it hadn’t changed, and I think there’s some sort of — I mean obviously we have a PGA Tour liaison that helps with the USGA and helps in figuring out what the rules should and shouldn’t be. …

“But as — and as I told the rules officials last night, it’s like, everybody says, we’re going to change it for the better, we’re going to do this and that, we’re close or whatever, but nothing seems to get done.”

Included in Hoffman’s post were two references to proposed golf leagues that would rival the PGA Tour, and that incidents like Friday’s would be reason to “jump ship.” One of those tours, a league that is backed by the Saudi Arabia-based LIV Golf Investments group, has reportedly offered Tour players millions of dollars to join, and those reports appear to have reached the ears of Hoffman, who is also one of four player directors on the PGA Tour’s Player Advisory Council.

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Would a player leave the Tour because of a rules concern? In Hoffman’s incident, his ire stemmed from what followed after he placed his ball after two attempts at a penalty drop — as he walked away, his in-play ball rolled into the water, and he was stung. 

“I think it’s a whole, a whole — everything,” Hoffman said. “You got to look at yourself as a policy board member and look at yourself in the face — as I said, what can I do better as a player director, what can the executive committee do, executive directors do better to make sure that we are the best tour in the world. …

“I had no — I wasn’t near the golf ball, I had no intent to hit at the golf ball, and the ball moved after I dropped it twice, and I have to put it down where the ball landed. I have no control over that, I turn my back, and the ball goes in the water. How is that a rule that is good for the game of golf and how we play? I mean, not one person at a country club would have took another penalty for that. Why is it, in professional golf, are we doing that? It’s not the first time it’s happened.

“So you have to use what I have because obviously what we, what the players have said and our person that sits on their board and sits with them, it hasn’t gotten through to them.

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“And I talked to the USGA last night and hopefully they got the point and hopefully it does change. So hopefully a little bit of hard times for me going through this, probably going to catch a ton of crap, will make the game better, and hopefully the PGA Tour and the policy board and everybody gets together and we keep everybody here and we play in the U.S. the best game of golf in the world and we have the best players play week-in and week-out here in the United States.”

When asked if he knew he made “a pretty big leap” from a rules infraction to players potentially leaving the PGA Tour, Hoffman said it was “strategically.” He and reporters then had the following exchange: 

“I, if I just griped about a rule no one probably catches it. No one says anything,” he said. 

“How much thought did you put in …” a reporter asked. 

“A decent amount,” Hoffman said. “So I put a jab in there on purpose just so that the media would catch it.”

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Nick Piastowski

Nick Piastowski

Golf.com Editor

Nick Piastowski is a Senior Editor at Golf.com and Golf Magazine. In his role, he is responsible for editing, writing and developing stories across the golf space. And when he’s not writing about ways to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native is probably playing the game, hitting the ball left, right and short, and drinking a cold beer to wash away his score. You can reach out to him about any of these topics — his stories, his game or his beers — at nick.piastowski@golf.com.