SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Charley Hoffman is mad as hell at the USGA and he’s not going to take it anymore.
After being involved in a rules infraction on Friday, Hoffman blasted golf’s governing body for “a bogus rule” and he doubled down on his Instagram post, speaking after his third round at the WM Phoenix Open.
“Not a huge fan of the USGA and how they govern us all the time,” Hoffman said. “I’m making a stance for the USGA to change this.”
Hoffman, a four-time PGA Tour winner, received a penalty on the par-5 13th hole at TPC Scottsdale during the second round after his tee shot found the water. But after dropping twice, he place the ball on a tuft of grass and when he turned around, the ball rolled back into the water and he was assessed another penalty stroke.
Hoffman was under the impression that the USGA had changed that rule, eliminating the penalty since there was no intent in causing the ball to move. In 2019, WM Phoenix Open winner Rickie Fowler suffered a similar fate at the 11th hole in the final round and overcame a triple bogey to hoist the title.
“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?” Hoffman said. “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?”
He added: “And I think the partnership between the USGA and the PGA Tour’s gotten much better through the last handful of years, but there’s no way that that’s good for the game of golf when balls move like that and can affect the outcome of golf tournaments.
“It didn’t make any sense at that point in time why that rule hadn’t changed, especially this exact tournament when it happened to Rickie Fowler, he ended up winning the golf tournament, but it could have cost him the golf tournament.
“But 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.
“And unless you come out on a platform like I did, it somewhat influences a change.”
Hoffman made clear that his leap implying that such rules infraction was a reason why “guys are wanting to jump ship for another tour,” as he wrote was intentional.
“So I put a jab in there on purpose just so that the media would catch it,” he explained.
Hoffman emphasized that he has no interest in playing on any other tour.
“If it came across in that Instagram post that I have been reached by them, I have not been reached by them, it came across wrong,” he said. “I added that so the media would catch it, so I would prove my point on the rules side.”
As a member of the PGA Tour’s policy board, he knew the chain of command to discuss his concerns but he implied that he was taking one for the team.
“I think it works really good,” he said of the Tour’s policy board structure, “but we have, we have a threat. I mean, that’s real. I mean, you can’t hide under a rock and say it’s not. … could I have done it behind closed doors? Probably. But sometimes that doesn’t always work.”
Hoffman’s frustration stemmed, in part, because he’s convinced that the penalty will come back to haunt him.
“I mean, one shot is, no matter what happens, is going to affect me point-wise, something, somewhere down the line. I don’t know what it’s going to be,” he said. “It’s going to affect me on a bogus rule that hopefully changes for the better in the long run and hopefully we learn from it.”
Hoffman shot 8-over 79 on Saturday to drop to last place among the 67 players to make the cut. He hit his opening tee shot out of bounds at No. 10 and had to take a penalty and also hit his tee shot into the water for another penalty at No. 11.
“I won’t have any tour to play on if I keep playing the way I did today,” Hoffman cracked. “Was I thinking about what I said? Of course, I was. I mean, could it have affected me? Maybe.”