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Kolpack: Hoge shows emotional side at South High Hall of Fame event

Tom Hoge reveals the day Tiger congratulated him on Pebble Beach victory

PGA: AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am - Final Round
Fargo's Tom Hoge holds the trophy after winning the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am golf tournament championship at Pebble Beach Golf Links on Sunday, Feb 6, in Pebble Beach, Calif.
Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports
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The running joke among the amateur oddsmakers in Steve Kennedy’s inner circle was that he wouldn’t make it 27 seconds before crying. He’s an emotional guy, after all, and being inducted into the Fargo South Hall of Fame on Tuesday night was the perfect stage of it.

Nobody figured Tom Hoge would beat him to it.

Kennedy made it through most of his speech until talking about his wife, Renee, and all the sacrifices she’s made over the years to his South High and North Dakota State golf coaching career.

Several minutes earlier, Hoge revealed a side of him that he never shows in public.

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The 2021-22 season was a breakout year for Hoge on the PGA Tour. He played in all four major tournaments for the first time, won his first tournament in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and reached the Tour Championship.

It’s been a whirlwind lifestyle, but he recently took some time to reflect with the South High event looming. He thought about the time he ran into Tiger Woods at the practice range at Augusta National on the Tuesday before the Masters.

“For me I think back to one moment,” he said. “We were walking off the range at the same time, he hopped on a cart and turned to me and said, hey Hoge, congrats on the win.”

Hoge paused to compose himself.

It was an I-made-it moment for him. It was a story that he hadn’t shared with anybody before Tuesday.

Tom Hoge Pebble Beach 2021.jpg
Fargo's Tom Hoge plays a shot from a bunker on the second hole during the final round of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am on Sunday at Pebble Beach Golf Links in Pebble Beach, California. Orlando Ramirez/USA TODAY Sports

“It was everything I worked for,” Hoge said after the banquet. “Tiger was the guy and to have that moment was pretty cool. It sums up the year pretty well to be there at Augusta.”

If the PGA Tour needs further evidence on why Hoge demands that he be announced at tournaments as being from Fargo, North Dakota — and not his birthplace of Statesville, North Carolina — somebody should send them video from the Hall of Fame ceremony. He was truly touched.

The entire day was more emotional for Hoge than he ever thought it would be. He was inducted along with Kennedy, Colorado educator Tanni Anthony, decorated military expert James Caufield and West Fargo principal and educator Tom Gravel.

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“I just think you have such a sense of gratitude in a moment like this,” Hoge said. “All the people that have helped me and sacrificed to help me get to this point and I really do appreciate that.”

Like Kennedy, he wasn’t able to finish his speech as it was intended because of the emotional nature of it. Like Kennedy, Hoge talking about his wife, Kelly, got to be too much.

It’s a 180-degree turn from the job. On the golf course, Hoge is one mentally locked in individual. There are a couple stories out there where Hoge walked right by friends during a tournament and he did not notice them. It’s all business.

Sasquatch could walk by Hoge if he was looking for his ball in the woods and he wouldn’t notice the big fella. Those layers were peeled back at South High on Tuesday.

“Yeah, I don’t know,” Hoge said.

It was his first time back in Fargo since the Bell Bank “Play it Forward” event in May 2020, the pandemic-related match between Hoge and Matt Cullen and Amy Olson and Josh Duhamel for charity at the Fargo Country Club.

The Masters
Fargo's Tom Hoge walks off the 13th green after making par during the first round of The Masters on Thursday, April 7, at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia.
MIKE SEGAR/REUTERS

“Just to see a lot of familiar faces more than anything,” Hoge said. “A lot of people were here tonight and former teammates and to share it with coach Kennedy was a great night.”

Hoge gave kudos to older South golfers like Dave Schultz, Kane Hanson, Brandon Askew and former Shanley golfer Andy Doeden. They allowed the youngster Hoge, around 10 or 11 years old at the time, to hang around them at the FCC.

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“That was my introduction to Fargo South golf,” he said. “All those guys went on to play Division I golf and paved the way for me like it was a normal thing to do.”

There was one other revelation besides the Tiger moment. Kennedy won 12 state titles at South and in one span won 11 out of 12. It may have been 12 in a row had the head coach started an eighth grader in the 2003 state tournament: Hoge.

“He was the only player to ever play for me as an eighth grader,” Kennedy said, before breaking into a grin. “My bad.”

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Jeff would like to dispel the notion he was around when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, but he is on his third decade of reporting with Forum Communications. The son of a reporter and an English teacher, and the brother of a reporter, Jeff has worked at the Jamestown Sun, Bismarck Tribune and since 1990 The Forum, where he's covered North Dakota State athletics since 1995.
Jeff has covered all nine of NDSU's Division I FCS national football titles and has written three books: "Horns Up," "North Dakota Tough" and "Covid Kids." He is the radio host of "The Golf Show with Jeff Kolpack" April through August.
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