HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. – He is back on the PGA TOUR for the first time since November 2019, back among friends, back in golf which has “always been something that I love.”
But when Morgan Hoffmann is asked why he’s back at age 32, the answer hits on all angles of a story that pulls at the heartstrings and introduces worlds of wellness and holistic health that are not the norm. Some players return to the Korn Ferry Tour or a former coach to rediscover secrets to the game; Hoffmann in 2018 spent time in Nepal and for most of the last two years has resided in Costa Rica “with a drive for health” his main goal.
“It is,” said Luke Donald, who played a Tuesday practice round with Hoffmann at the RBC Heritage, “a fascinating story, isn’t it?”
Indeed, it is.
Diagnosed with facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD) in 2017, Hoffmann wanted answers and was told nothing could be done. He refused to accept that and explored worlds that were available to him, so long as he had an open mind.
Oh, did he ever.
Nepal is where he went to cleanse himself. But the move to Costa Rica for Hoffmann and his wife, Chelsea, to live among “healers” unlocked ways to treat his muscular dystrophy and to reassess so many other aspects of his world.
Hoffmann appreciates that people who embrace Western medicine will perhaps be lost to know what he’s embarked upon, but part of his mission to return to the PGA TOUR is to educate people. He has started a foundation and wants to build a wellness center in Costa Rica.
“A lot of people call some of the things that I’ve embarked upon as hallucinogenic, but the way I see them is so much different,” said Hoffmann. “I think it’s like a backdoor or side door to different dimensions or different planes. I don’t really have it down yet; I’m still questioning and trying to figure it all out.”
His journey from the PGA TOUR to Nepal to Costa Rica and back to the PGA TOUR was recently reported thoroughly and beautifully in Golf Digest by Dan Rapaport. Hoffmann said he received “amazing positive feedback.”
But he laughs, too, because his journey “can be deemed as crazy, but I think that’s kind of what most people see me as anyway.”
Donald, who got to know Hoffmann years ago and has stayed in touch, finds nothing crazy about the story. Rather, Donald admires how in Hoffmann’s quest to cleanse himself physically and mentally, important lessons have been learned.
“I think everyone is excited to see the progress he’s made with the knowledge he’s gained and the self-belief he has,” said Donald. “He’s content. We always think we need material to be happy, but I think he’s learned that less is more.”
While Hoffmann reported that he felt fine, that he was back to working out diligently, that his pectorals “are coming back from the atrophy, which is huge and very, very exciting,” Donald saw that himself and came away impressed.
“We didn’t talk too much about his illness,” said Donald. “But he has figured out how to heal his mental self. He looks good. It doesn’t look anything has been degenerative.”
The golf component to Hoffmann’s story is one of long odds. Playing in the RBC Heritage on one of three remaining starts on a medical extension, he must accumulate 238.42 FedExCup points to maintain full status, which he held in his most recent full season as a pro, 2017-18.
Now he’s spent the majority of the past two years living in Costa Rica, where hitting wedges on the beach with his dog, Yama, a 4-year-old Doberman, can’t be considered prime prep work for the PGA TOUR. Plus, Hoffmann reported that he broke his shoulder and two ribs in a motorcycle accident in his driveway in Costa Rica and “it’s been a really tough rehab.”
Still, he’s been working on his physical fitness and most recently was at the Ohoopee Match Club in Cobbtown, Georgia, “for the last 10 days or so.” He reports that “the swing speed is getting back slowly” and that being at Harbour Town Golf Links brings him back to being a 12-year-old.
That’s because Hoffmann, who grew up in Wyckoff, New Jersey, attended the IJGA Academy with Gary Gilchrist on Dafauskie Island, “and we would come over here to Harbour Town to play on weekends.”
It’s a homecoming, of sorts, on two fronts. A return to an area where he spent some of his formative years and to a community of PGA TOUR brethren. Which invites the question: What does Morgan Hoffmann expect of himself this week?
“Some smiles,” he said. “Some golf on a beautiful course. That’s really about it. I’ve been practicing hard and my game actually feels pretty solid.
“My clubs are dialed in, so I feel good. I don’t really know. Obviously, you come to tournaments to win, and I’ve never done that before (on TOUR), so might as well shoot for the stars, right?”
In a way, he already has done that in an inspiring way.