Vista freshman, league MVP, hoping for strong postseasonBy: Matt LongTelegraph Sports Editor
Having shot 69 twice this season as a 15-year freshman, Emilee Hoffman has a bright future in the game of golf.
Her first year at Vista del Lago has gone about as good as possible on the golf course. She went undefeated in dual matches; won both Sierra Valley Conference tournaments and was named the conference’s Most Valuable Player. She helped the Eagles to a second-place finish in the league behind Union Mine and on Monday she and her teammates played in the section tournament, hoping to qualify for the Masters Tournament to be held Monday (Results available at folsomtelegraph.com.)
For someone who’s only been playing golf seriously for three years, Hoffman has progressed rapidly. She showcased her God-given ability soon after picking up the game three years ago when she broke 90 for the first time. Last year she broke 80 for the first time and this year, naturally, she broke the 70-stroke barrier with a pair of 69s, once at Bartley Cavanaugh and the other at Empire Ranch.
Hoffman has taken her success all in stride. She’s as eager to talk about all the people she’s met this year, as she is her accomplishments on the course.
“It’s been a great year,” Hoffman said. “I didn’t have any goal other than to meet new people, have fun and get used to playing high school golf.”
Asked what she likes about golf, Hoffman said meeting people and being outdoors.
“I also love the challenge of it,” said Hoffman, who also played soccer, softball, basketball and volleyball before giving them up for golf. “It’s unconquerable.”
That might be true, but Hoffman is doing her best to conquer it. With a nine-hole scoring average in the mid-to-high 30s and two 18-hole rounds of 69, there aren’t many weaknesses in her game.
Her coach at Vista, Miguel Rodriguez, had to think hard as to what he considered her strength on the golf course—mainly because she has so many—before settling on her short game.
Hoffman said her strength was off the tee, where she not only hits it straight but also about 250 yards long. Her dad and coach, Jeff, himself a scratch golfer who’s been a competitive amateur golfer for years and a three-time club champ at Empire Ranch, agreed with his daughter.
“She drives the ball very well; hitting a lot of fairways and hitting it long, but she’s also a very good putter,” Jeff said. “Inside of 10 feet she’s very good. Her mental game is also strong. She understands course management and assesses all the things that go into hitting a good shot.”
Rodriguez added, “I’ve never seen anyone like her. Mentally, she’s way above and beyond her age and it shows with how she carries herself on the course.”
As members at Cameron Park Country Club, the Hoffmans have teamed up to win the hardware. Emilee won the Junior Club Championship in July and feeling the pressure from his daughter, Jeff came through to take the men’s title in September.
“We joined Cameron Park Country Club in May and we’ve spent a lot of time practicing there,” Jeff said. “She’s a hard worker and a quick learner and playing up there has been an integral part of her improvement. It’s a tough course and the greens are diabolical. If you can play up there, your game travels well.”
Adding to her coming out party this fall, Hoffman scored a hole-in-one at The Ridge in Auburn earlier this month, using an 8-iron on the 136-yard 14th hole. The shot, which she saw the whole way, had Hoffman ‘screaming, crying and jumping around.’ The ace also stirred the pot at home.
“I still don’t have one and she’s reminded me of that since she’s gotten hers,” Jeff said. “The best part of this year, though, is the time we’ve spent together on the course. It’s been great.”
With the postseason here, Hoffman hopes to advance as far as she can. With her talent and ability, qualifying for the state tournament is not out of the question.
“If she keeps shooting red numbers, she’s got a good chance to go all the way,” Rodriguez said.
Hoffman said the highlight of her season so far was the 69 she shot at Empire Ranch on Oct. 15. That would probably change if she advances deep into the postseason.
“I just want to play the best I can and make it as far as I can,” she said. “I think if I keep practicing and working hard, it’s possible to make it to the state tournament.”