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Closing The Loop: Dave Hoce

Dave Hoce has been golf pro for only 10 years, unusual for someone in his 60s. Originally from Ohio, he became a railroad engineer. He worked in that career for 25 years, based in Wyoming. During much of that time, he dreamed about golf, which he’d played when he was young.

“When I was in my early 20s, I somehow had the ability to hit the ball forever. Of course, I didn’t always know where it was going to go. But I had the game and the knowledge and thought about playing professionally. But I had a wife and two children, I was making good money, and I couldn’t put all of what we had at risk to take a shot at golf.”

What did prompt him to quit his high-paying career, however, was his daughter’s health.

“We have a daughter who has had two liver transplants and one kidney transplant. A few years ago, she went into the hospital and contracted sepsis. They amputated both of her hands and part of her feet. We moved to Northeast Florida to be near Mayo, where she was transplanted.”

Dave was short of retirement, with medical bills and but no work.

“I tried sales, things with my hands. Nothing was a good fit or made money.”

Before any of it was resolved, his own health became an issue. “I came down with cancer. I went through two years of chemotherapy. I’m clean now, and I very grateful for that. But I had no job and no money.”

A friend from church was the general manager of a new golf course that was to open soon, and offered him a job. “He said they’ll get you started as a ranger. I was there for years and made many friends. I still could play well in those years, and people asked me questions, which led to private lessons. But for a number of reasons, I never got my PGA professional designation.”

Within a few years, the golf business ? locally and national ? consolidated. Dave couldn’t teach at a country club without a PGA card. When he was laid off from his last ranger job, he began to teach at his house, using a mat and net in the yard ? and a video camera.

“It had an ideal setup for me to practice and work with my friends. You actually could fix a swing problem much faster.”

Dave Hoce has been teaching that way ever since, acquiring students by referral. “My credentials are the success of my students.

And what he’s doing now is, he says, is what he’s always wanted to do ? “Help people enjoy the game of golf. It’s just my passion to see people improve.”

Warren Miller is a writer and financial executive who lives near St. Augustine, Florida.