By Dalton Balthaser


CRANSTON – Kyle Hoffman has spent quite a bit of time since 2018 trying to find his form of old. 


The one that brought him back-to-back Rhode Island Four-Ball titles (2013-14) with Ryan Pelletier and had him as a frequent contender in RIGA events. 


“In 2018, I had a couple of shoulder surgeries,” said Hoffman, 33, of Lincoln. “I didn’t even play golf in 2019 as a result. But the Rhode Island Amateur was at Pawtucket in 2020 so that got me motivated to get back on the course. I feel like it took a bit for me to get back in form. I was playing different clubs and my body had changed.


“A lot of it was trusting my body to hold up. Now my body is in a spot where it is stable, and I can figure out how to swing the club like I know I can.”


Hoffman, guided by a last-second practice round, carded a round of 69 to claim medalist honors Wednesday in a Rhode Island Amateur Pre-Qualifier at Cranston Country Club (par 71, 6,493 yards).


The 117th Rhode Island Amateur Championship will take place July 11-15 at Wanumetonomy Golf & Country Club.


A total of 28 players secured their spot at Wanumetonomy with the cut line falling at 76 (5 over).


“A bunch of my friends were touring some of the public courses recently,” said Hoffman, of Pawtucket Country Club. “So last Saturday we came here and played. I hadn’t played here for 20 years before then. Probably when I was a freshman in high school.


“It was nice to see the course and I was glad to remind myself of some of the quirky holes out there. It was good to get a feel of the sightlines off the tee and knowing where to be on some of the dogleg holes. The course was in great shape.”


Birdies weren’t an issue for Hoffman. He carded three on each side. On the front, he birdied Nos. 2 (par 4, 365 yards), 3 (par 4, 390 yards) and 9 (par 4, 447 yards). It was highlighted by a 30-footer for birdie on No. 9 after hitting a recovery shot from the trees.


After checking the leaderboard on No. 15 (par 3, 185 yards), Hoffman challenged himself to get to the top spot by the end of the round.


“I haven’t contended in a tournament in a long time,” said Hoffman. “I saw John Sayles shot 1 under and I figured I would push myself to see if I could be the medalist. While you don’t win anything for being medalist, it gives me the belief in my game again.”


He chipped in for birdie on No. 15, stuffed a 9-iron from 130 yards to 3 feet on No. 16 (par 4, 383 yards) and rolled in a 20-footer on No. 17 (par 5, 550 yards).


A closing bogey may have been disappointing but for Hoffman Wednesday was a success. He felt the competitive juices again and got his putter going.


“My putting has been the weakest part of my game recently,” said Hoffman. “But today, I made a boatload of putts. That made me happy. When you make putts, it seems golf is much more fun.”


Hoffman will return to Wanumetonomy for the #RIAmateur with positive memories. He made match play but lost in the Round of 32 in 2012.


“I like Wanumetonomy’s layout,” said Hoffman. “It reminds me a lot of Pawtucket with respect to length and its design. If I can keep the ball in play and hit my approaches to the right spots, I believe it is a place where I can succeed.”


Hoffman will have a month to wait until he competes again but knows what he will have to do to be ready.


“The next couple of weeks I think I will go to a driving range,” said Hoffman. “I haven’t practiced all year. I have just played. I want to make sure my game is trending positively in the next month. I’m excited for the Amateur this year.”