Sarah Hoffman (Ann Arbor, Mich.) grew up across the street from Travis Pointe Country Club, the home of the new LPGA Volvik Championship. She used to ride her bike to the course and has been a member since she was five. Hoffman first met Volvik President Don Shin at the press conference to announce the new tournament. That’s just the beginning of the story.
On February 3, Hoffman decided to quit her job at University of Michigan hospital as a nurse in the orthopedic trauma unit, which she has done for two years since graduating from Grand Valley State University.
“I had already begun to regret not playing professionally,” said Hoffman, who was still playing in amateur events. “I was doing well in amateur events and I was wondering what if. I knew that ten to 15 years from now I was totally going to regret it (not turning pro). I had been working and saving money so I just decided to do it.”
Hoffman quit her job and moved to Orlando to begin playing in a warmer climate. A week or so later, she was playing at Waldorf Astoria Golf Course by herself and the foursome in front called her to come join their group. As fate would have it, the group happened to be Don Shin’s and they were playing with LPGA legend Se Ri Pak, but she had to leave. The first approach shot Hoffman hit was perfect, five feet from the cup. She played the last eight holes with Shin and his group from the back tees and shot even.
“They invited me out to Isleworth the next day and then Don and I sent up a meeting,” said Hoffman. “He’s like ‘we got to make this happen’ and he gave me some golf balls to try. Out of all the courses in Orlando, to meet up with him was a total god thing. It has been a whirlwind.”
Then, this Monday, Shin called Hoffman, who is now wearing the Volvik hat, at 4:45 p.m. and said that he had an exemption into the IOA Championship and if she wanted it she needed to turn in the paperwork at 5:00 p.m.
“Without hesitation, I said absolutely,” explained Hoffman. “I’m still getting a little of the rust off but I feel great.”
Hoffman, who just purchased a yardage book on Thursday afternoon, woke up at 4:00 a.m. on Wednesday and was on flight to Los Angeles by 6:00 a.m. She arrived at Morongo Golf Club at 3:00 p.m. and hit a few range balls. She was able to play in the pro-am on Thursday morning to see the course.
“It has been absolutely crazy, everything has just worked out so far,” said Hoffman. “It has been awesome.”
Hoffman used to work 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. three days a week as a nurse and then drive straight to the course. When she finally quit her job, co-workers said she was turning in the scrubs for clubs.
The turning point came at the Michigan Open in 2015. She worked three long days before the first round and then slept in her car to be at the course on time. She played a practice round with friends and then the next day carded a 66.
“I told myself that I have to give this a shot,” said Hoffman. “If I give myself good conditions I wanted to know what would happen.”
With no LPGA or Symetra Tour status because she has never gone to Qualifying Tournament, Hoffman has a great opportunity to measure her game this week.
“This is a huge opportunity for me,” said the 25-year-old Hoffman. “To be able to play in a Symetra Tour event before you have proven yourself is such a blessing.”