March 27, 2014
By David Shefter, USGA
|Tim Hogarth, of Northridge, Calif., remains the last non-collegian to win the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship. (USGA Museum)
Barring a result that hasn’t occurred in nearly two decades, Tim Hogarth, of Northridge, Calif., will go down as the last non-collegian to win the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship. The Cal State Northridge graduate was 30 when he defeated Jeff Thomas, 8 and 7, in 1996 at Wailua Golf Course in Lihue, Hawaii, on Maui. Hogarth, who played six months as a professional before becoming a food broker for stores such as Whole Foods and Sprouts Farmers Market, grew up at a par-3 course in the San Fernando Valley and was competing in just his second USGA championship at the time of his victory. Since his APL victory, Hogarth, who turned 48 in June, has become one of California’s more decorated golfers, claiming a California State Amateur title, a Southern California Golf Association Amateur title, seven Los Angeles city championships, three SCGA Public Links titles and five SCGA Mid-Amateur victories. He also was the runner-up to Nathan Smith at the 2010 U.S. Mid-Amateur at Atlantic Golf Club in Bridgehampton, N.Y., and represented his state at the 1999 USGA Men’s State Team Championship.
Looking back nearly 20 years later, what did winning the APL mean to you?
It meant a lot. To be introduced as a USGA champion always makes me smile. I remember that week in Hawaii vividly.
You were born in Hawaii and moved to California as a youngster. Did winning in Hawaii provide a little special icing?
I had some nice local support once they found out I was born in Honolulu, and once all the local Hawaiians lost, they started rooting for me.
What stands out from that week?
I think I made more putts that week than I’ve made the rest of my life. It was all used up for that [championship]. I made them all in bunches and it was unbelievable.
Regarding your putting, I read that you had a brief session with UCLA coach Brad Sherfy. What advice did he offer?
At that time, I used to get help from everybody. I was just searching for information. Brad happened to tell me something that clicked in that moment. It was nothing more than a tiny tip that just happened to work for a few weeks.
Winning the APL obviously earned you a Masters invitation, but what else did you gain from the victory?
At the time, from what I had done in the past, I would consider that victory a big David and Goliath or possibly a fluke. I didn’t think it was in me [to win]. The victory certainly spurred me on to do some nice things and be a more accomplished player. It gave me more confidence that I could do that. The Masters was certainly wonderful and something that I will always remember, but being a USGA champion means more to me than being in the Masters.
What made you a better player in your 30s and 40s than when you were a teen or a collegian?
There’s no doubt that my success is from my long-standing relationship that I have had with my instructor, Randy Peterson. He’s helped me with my game since I was 18 years old and it took just a little bit of time to figure out what I do [best] and what mistakes I make. When you’ve been with a person that long, even the most stubborn person will figure out what you do best.
Are you saddened to see the APL being retired?
Growing up at a par-3 course, the Public Links was the thing. The reason it was the thing was because they were going to help me go to the tournament, expense-wise. Going to Hawaii for 11 days, there’s no way I could have gone if [the local APL committee] didn’t help with expenses. I think that [doing away with expense money for qualifiers] eliminated a group of people like me who never would have been able to play because they couldn’t afford to go.
I always grew up thinking that the Public Links was for the postman, the guy who works at the liquor store or drives a cab, so they could possibly compete in a USGA event. You look at who has won [recently] and it’s basically a glorified college tournament, so there is no reason to keep it on the schedule.
Will you attempt to qualify for the final APL?
I played at Bandon Dunes [in 2011]. It always depends on the site and time. Usually, the Southern California Amateur is at the exact same time. It makes it difficult with kids. I would rather play somewhere local and come home and see them rather than be gone for a week. I would like to play at the last [APL] as the last non-collegian to win it.
David Shefter is a senior staff writer with the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.