Bio: 34, 6 feet, 200 pounds | Driver :Titleist 910D3, 9.5 deg. Ball: Titleist Pro V1 | Driving distance (rank): 297.4 yards (34th) | Clubhead speed (rank): 118.5 miles per hour (15th)
GETTING IT TOGETHER
Few people would ever accuse Charley Hoffman of blending into a crowd. His burly frame and trademark blond mullet make him one of the most recognizable players on the PGA Tour. But it's his game that has a clandestine-like quality. One minute you'll see him on top of a leader board, and the next you won't. He won the 2010 Deutsche Bank Championship, part of the FedEx Cup playoffs, and had five top-10 finishes in an eight-week stretch. But he vanished for a chunk of this year (one highlight was a T-2 at the Valero Texas Open). Hoffman wants more consistency, but one thing he doesn't worry about is the way he drives the ball.
"It's been a very average year so far," he says. "But hitting the ball well hasn't been a problem. That's why I've been watching some of the video from last year's Deutsche Bank. I played great that week. I just want to pick up some keys that were working for me and hopefully get on another hot run."
Although ball-striking has always been a strength of Hoffman's game, says his longtime coach, Shawn Callahan, it doesn't come without hard work. They pay attention to the rhythm and length of his swing to make sure he maintains what is one of the most effective driving games in professional golf. Hoffman ranked 16th on tour in total driving through early August -- a statistic determined by a player's ability to drive it long and straight. He's also among the top 25 in ball-striking, which combines total driving and greens in regulation.
"Lately we've worked on getting his arms higher as he swings the driver back, getting him in a better position at the top," Callahan says. "A couple years ago I noticed how short and quick his swing looked. Ever since then, we've tried to get him to lengthen his swing so he can create a better rhythm, which is a major key to hitting good tee shots."
Hoffman says he has managed to stave off hooks and "balloony shots" by having a feeling of "covering the ball" as he swings the club through impact. He prefers a medium-trajectory shot that curves slightly from left to right, and to hit that shot, he focuses on getting his head and chest in line with the ball as he swings through. There's no hang-back in his swing: Everything moves forward. That's a good swing thought, he says, for average golfers who tend to fall back on the right foot and hit weak slices.
"The key is to have my hips firing toward the target while my right shoulder moves down and through the ball," Hoffman says. "It's almost like I'm hitting the ball with my right shoulder."
-- Ron Kaspriske