This PGA Tour pro is about to make his 500th start (and he thinks the feat will become a rarity)

SAN ANTONIO — Charley Hoffman is just a few years from a major milestone, one that will afford him the opportunity to compete on multiple tours. The San Diego native is less than three years from hitting the big 5-0, meaning he’ll be eligible for the PGA Tour Champions as well as the PGA Tour.

But this week at the Texas Valero Open, the wily veteran is celebrating an even bigger number as he makes his 500th PGA Tour start.

After playing collegiately at UNLV, Hoffman made his PGA Tour debut in 2006. One year later, Hoffman tallied his first of four Tour wins at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic.

And while with age comes wisdom, Hoffman joked Wednesday at the TPC San Antonio Oaks Course that he’s avoided too much wisdom, thus maintaining a carefree attitude through decades of competition.

“The Charley Hoffman with the long hair and trying to become a PGA Tour player and star, I think I was just dumb enough to think I could do it. I thought I could compete with the best in the world. I played my first event when I was 16 in San Diego and I thought I could play with the guys,” Hoffman said. “Then now, and I’ll use at the WM Phoenix Open, I think I’m just dumb enough to think I can compete against these 20-something-year-olds and I still think I can beat them. So I think there’s a little bit of stupidity inside there which is consistent through all this.

2024 WM Phoenix Open
2024 WM Phoenix Open

Charley Hoffman on the 16th hole during the weather-delayed third round of the WM Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale on Feb. 11, 2024.

“I just love to compete, I love to play, I love to feed off people. When I was younger I used to try to get on the first tee and learn from the older guys. Now I like playing — if I go play a practice round, I don’t mind playing with the younger guys, sort of feed off their energy and what they do and their charisma and how they hit it.”

Hoffman comes to the Alamo City with three straight missed cuts at the Mexico Open, Players Championship and Valspar Championship, but he hasn’t lost any enthusiasm. But Hoffman is still competing, as shown by a tough playoff loss to Nick Taylor at the WM Phoenix Open. The close call has him working as hard as ever.

In fact, he first learned he was nearing 500 starts in Phoenix and said he then planned for the milestone to be broken in Texas.

“I honestly strategically picked this week to have it done just because it’s so near and dear to my heart and a place where the family I knew during spring break could come and celebrate that sort of stuff with me. It’s something we hand-picked after I found out where my 500th start was going to be. It’s quite mind-blowing,” he said. “I played the pro-am ironically with Joe Ogilvie today. We just started talking, I think the unicorn of 500 starts is going to be even harder to attain in the future for PGA Tour players. Guys are traditionally playing less, there’s rumblings of a shorter season and so on and so forth. So to get to 500 starts, it’s going to be hard for the younger guys.

“It’s something that I probably never thought I’d get to and it’s quite an accomplishment. I want more, I don’t see myself going anywhere as long as I’m healthy. I obviously want to hopefully get to 600.”

Going years between victories, Hoffman is long past due. With his last win coming here at the 2016 Valero Texas Open, Hoffman is going on over eight seasons without finding the winner’s circle as he winds down his Tour career. But he’s certainly in his comfort zone here in Central Texas, finishing the Valero with three runner-up showings and seven top-10 finishes.

“I would say Texas in general I’ve played fairly well throughout my career,” he said. “Obviously we were at a different golf course, La Cantera prior, had some success there and then moved over here. I remember back in the day, like take a tour of TPC San Antonio, come over here and see if you like the golf course. I never did do that tour, but obviously it’s a golf course I fell in love with.

“It’s a golf course you’ve got to drive your golf ball well. I’ve traditionally played well in the wind, which is the reason why I think I’ve played well in Texas. It’s a ball-striker’s golf course, it’s a course that you need to give yourself opportunities on the green to be in the right sections. It’s something that just fits my eye. I think the demand of it just sort of just fits my game.”

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek