Helping children comes naturally to ex-UNLV golfer


Charley Hoffman played collegiate golf under the attentive eye of Dwaine Knight, meaning that while things like improving one’s skill and winning matches and championships are important, understanding your place in a community is as significant.

“We are always trying to instill in them that there is no entitlement that comes with playing college golf, that what they do is a privilege,” Knight said. “We need them to understand how important it is that, if given the opportunities upon moving on, giving back to those who gave you so much is the right thing to do.

“We want them to be grateful and to express that by helping others. This town has been very good to our program. What Charley has done and is now doing in giving back is wonderful. I’m very proud of him.”

Hoffman was a member of UNLV’s national championship team in 1998 and is in his fifth year on the PGA Tour, a journey that has seen him win less than what he had hoped but also afforded him the chance to affect those in need, many of them children.

His foundation will hold a pro-am on Oct. 18 at TPC Summerlin, an event that will begin the week at the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.

Hoffman held a similar pro-am in February in his hometown of San Diego. Now, he and wife Stacy want to raise money for others in the place they call home.

“It’s a pretty cool thing to be able to do,” Hoffman said. “You get to play with a tour pro on the same course the tournament will be held that week. I feel sometimes in my heart that I’m still in college. I love playing. I love being able to do something for the community in Las Vegas. The more we can help people in need, the more special it becomes. I feel blessed.”

He is like countless pros who have tasted what a PGA Tour win means and hasn’t yet been able to duplicate the feeling. Hoffman won his only PGA title at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic in 2007 and since has managed eight top-10 finishes. He has missed the cut in five of 11 events this season, including four of the past six. He’s struggling.

Nagging injuries have slowed his path somewhat, but so too has existing somewhere between good and great. Golf tournaments aren’t won by 10 strokes. The margin for error is ridiculously minuscule. Everyone on tour can play.

“I still learn something every time I play,” Hoffman said. “I’m 33 and still feel there is a lot of good golf out there for me. Of course, I would like to have more wins and a higher ranking by now, but when those things don’t happen, it makes me want them even more. You have to get some breaks. No one wins golf tournaments anymore without a few over four days.”

Hoffman was speaking earlier this week from California, hours before he and his wife were to learn the sex of their first child, due in early November. Yep. Charley Hoffman, the free spirit with shaggy blond hair and fun guy reputation, is becoming a father.

I’m not sure who will enjoy the trips to Chuck E. Cheese’s more — the little one or, well, Chuck himself.

It’s perfect timing, really. November is when most golfers break from the game before facing another year of continuous travel. Hoffman will spend his vacation changing diapers.

Now there’s an image his college coach and many former teammates covet.

“I can hardly wait,” Knight said. “I’m hoping to see what traits Charley passes on. It’s going to be a riot seeing him with a child. That will be quite a personality in that young person.”

For now, awaiting his own child, Hoffman helps others.

The pro-am here will benefit Blessings in a Backpack, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Goodie Two Shoes Foundation, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and the Transportation Fund of the local Zelzah Shrine Temple.

Many are linked directly to young people in need.

“Charley is trying to help kids as much as possible,” Knight said. “Is there anything better?”

The pro-am is a modified scramble and will include a clinic by Hoffman. A reception will follow for amateur and professional players.

Space is limited. For information and pricing, contact Erica Lee at 702-589-4949 or elee@jtshrinersopen.com.

Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ed Graney can be reached at egraney@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4618.