Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
When Tom Hoge teed off alongside Bubba Watson and Keita Nakajimaat at 1:05 p.m. on Augusta National’s first hole, he became the first North Dakotan since 1983 to participate in the prestigious tournament.
Hoge qualified for golf’s greatest event after outdueling former Masters champion Justin Spieth to win the 2022 ATT Pebble Beach Pro-Am in February. At Augusta, Hoge finished tied for 39th, making the cut and shooting +7 over the course of the tournament. However, the numbers only tell a portion of what participating in this tournament means to Hoge.
Being able to sit back now after its conclusion. How would you sum up your master’s experience?
First of all, it was just great to be there. As a PGA Tour player, it’s probably the hardest tournament to get into and everyone wants to get into it. The whole week was an incredible experience. Getting there is kind of the pinnacle.
The course played really difficult. I would say that I played pretty well, but I didn’t score quite as well as I would’ve liked or finished as high as I would’ve liked.
How many people did you bring along with you to watch?
We were given credentials for my immediate family and we were given 12 tickets to give to other family and friends. I would say there were somewhere around 20 people there so it was nice to have that support.
Did you run into anyone from the Fargo-Moorhead community that surprised you?
Not anyone that really surprised me, but there were a fair amount of people from Fargo there and that was great. A lot of people from the area were making their first trip there, so that’s pretty cool too.
I have to imagine the week can get kind of stressful with all of the side stuff going on and you ultimately being there to complete.
Well, it’s crazy week just trying to coordinate everything and see everyone. I kind of felt bad because I wasn’t able to spend as much time as I would’ve liked with a lot of people. But,I think everyone kind of understands the situation that I was in with all the craziness that comes with the week. It was just a cool deal to have everybody there at Augusta.
Did You Know?
The first masters tournament was played in 1934 and the first green jacket was awarded in 1949.
The whole week was an incredible experience. Getting there is kind of pinnacle.”
Was there a highlight from the week that stood out to you above the rest?
I don’t know if there was a certain highlight. But, I really enjoyed the par-three contest and even had my wife caddy for me. There were a lot of great parts of the week. Hopefully, we’ll make it back there in the future.
Did You Know?
The champion’s dinner was inaugurated by Ben Hogan in 1952 and is only open to former champions and select Augusta National Board Members.
Did it feel surreal out there or was it just another week at the job?
I would say it felt more along the lines of another week at the job. However, it has always been a dream of mine and it was great. I’ve always kind of seen myself in that position and expected to be there. So, it felt pretty normal at the same time if that makes sense.
Was that your first time playing at Augusta?
Once you get an invitation to the tournament, you’re able to play up to five rounds on the course prior to tournament week. You can go anytime alone. However, you need to find a member host if you’re going to take people. So, luckily we found one and I was able to take my dad and my brother with me.
With all of the people there to support you. The champion’s diner. The par-three contest and all of the crazy media coverage, did you get drained at all?
Yeah, a little bit. I tried to take care of most of my obligations the week or two before. And then when it came down to it, I tried to tune out a lot of what was going on. I tried to shut my phone down to a certain extent to try and calm things down.
Do you remember the first time you thought about how cool it would be to play in the masters?
I think for most people my age, it’s Tiger winning the 1997 Masters. That was my first recollection. I loved watching golf on TV and I think I was eight years old at the time.
Do you ever get funny looks from your fellow competitors when you tell them you’re from North Dakota?
Yes, for sure. I’m certainly unique.