Morgan Hoffmann’s unique path back to the PGA Tour leads to Hilton Head

Morgan Hoffmann’s unique path back to the PGA Tour leads to Hilton Head
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It’s been a long road back to the PGA Tour for Morgan Hoffmann.

And near the end of that road came a crash … literally. 

In 2016, Hoffmann was diagnosed with facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy, a genetic muscle disorder that leads to progressive muscle degeneration. After being told by doctors that his disease was essentially incurable, he tried a series of different treatments and eventually relocated from Jupiter, Florida, to Costa Rica, leading him back to professional golf.

Hoffmann, 32, hasn’t made a Tour start since the 2019 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. He was eyeing a return to competition at March’s Honda Classic, but he broke his shoulder and two ribs in a motorcycle accident in December.

“Well, it wasn’t really an official decision until last week to decide to play here (at the RBC Heritage),” said Hoffmann, who is playing this week on one of his three final major medical exemptions. “But I’ve been trying to shoot to play — I tried to play at Honda, that was my real goal, but the motorcycle accident … ironically it happened on the day that I was heading to the gym to start my comeback in December, because my muscles were feeling good, but kind of pushed things back a couple months.” 

But the path to recovery was a unique one, even before the crash. Hoffmann, a former Oklahoma State star and No. 1 amateur in the world, sought “original medicine” treatments, which are different forms of ancient, non-Western remedies. A Golf Digest article detailed his treatments, which included eating a “raw” diet (no processed or packaged foods). For 17 days at one point, Hoffmann ate only grapes — about 800 a day. He also did a 10-day urine cleanse, in which consumed no food and no water, just a cup of his urine in the morning and at night.

After experimenting with different natural treatments in various parts of the world, he and his wife, Chelsea, eventually made their way to Costa Rica in 2019, where they started a foundation and are building a health and wellness center.

Full-field tee times from RBC Heritage

“Since I started on this journey of soul searching, let’s say, my spirituality has definitely changed and been opened up to so many different things and different aspects of life, whether that’s physical or on different planes dimensionally,” Hoffmann said. “It’s something that’s hard to talk about here because not a lot of people understand and it can be deemed as crazy, but I think that’s kind of what most people see me as anyway (laughing). But, yeah, some of the plant medicine has been truly amazing, mind-blowing. And a lot of people call some of the things that I’ve embarked on as hallucinogenic, but the way I see them is so much different. I think it’s like a, kind of a back door or a side door to really like different dimensions or different planes, I don’t really have it down yet, I’m still questioning and trying to figure it all out.”

Ever since he went to Nepal four years ago, Hoffmann says his muscles have steadily improved. He says his atrophy is gone and he’s been in the gym every day, working on getting stronger. 

“My pecs are coming back from the atrophy, which is huge and very, very exciting,” he said “I’m being subdued to the excitement of seeing muscle firing again right now. So, yeah, every day is a success.”

Here’s a look at what’s happening around the golf world, from Harbour Town to Hawaii, and how you can watch.

For the past two weeks, Hoffmann has been practicing at Ohoopee Match Club in Cobbtown, Georgia, getting ready for his return. There was one point where he wasn’t sure if he’d come back. But now that he is, he’s excited that he’s making his return in Hilton Head because he attended high school on Daufuskie Island — sandwiched between Hilton Head, South Carolina, and Savannah, Georgia — and would play Harbour Town on weekends. 

As mentioned, he has three events remaining on his medical exemption — which ends this year — and needs to earn 238 FedExCup points before the end of the season to regain full PGA Tour status. And now that the comeback is set, Hoffmann, who before his two-and-a-half-year hiatus posted three top-3s nine top-10s on Tour, will be smiling through his return no matter what his results are. 

“I knew that golf has always been something that I love and I wanted it to be fun again,” he said. “And I’ve always put a lot of pressure on myself, and I think that’s why on Tour previous to this was the reason why I didn’t reach my potential, at least in my mind. So I just wanted the main goal when I came back to be fun. Whether that’s professional or amateur, but, yeah, I still had some dreams that I wanted to accomplish out here.” 

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