Google must have the yips.
Type Beau Hossler’s name into the search bar, and pages of links about his performance at the 2012 U.S. Open choke the browser. The Texas junior is having a phenomenal spring, yet the information superhighway slices awkwardly back down Memory Lane.
There’s a current story referring to the “2012 U.S. Open Prodigy.” Another one about how Hossler “burst on the scene leading the 2012 U.S. Open at age 17.” Even the second sentence of Google’s official profile mentions that Hossler finished “tied for 29th in the 2012 U.S. Open.”
Hey, did you know that Hossler led at one point during the second round of the 2012 U.S. Open? No? Google it.
Seriously, can someone please explain how the No. 2-ranked amateur golfer in the world is still being judged by what happened four years ago? Go ask Hossler about this — and duck.
“That hasn’t been my highlight for years!,” Hossler said. “People always ask me about that. I don’t want to talk about that.
“Guys, this was four years ago,” he adds in animated fashion. “I was 17 years old. I’ve done so much since then. I’ve gotten so much better since then. I’ve had so many experiences since then. And people think I’m drawing confidence off a tournament four years ago? I sure as hell did for a couple of months after that. But, I mean, let’s move on here. I’ve accomplished a lot since then.”
He sure as hell has. For starters, Hossler played for Team USA in the 2015 Palmer Cup last summer, a Ryder Cup-style event against the top 10 amateurs from Europe. And he played in the Walker Cup last September against amateurs from Great Britain and Ireland in Lancashire, England.
Closer to home this season with the Longhorns, Hossler has won five events, the third-highest single-season total in school history. Ben Crenshaw holds the UT record with seven wins in 1972 and six in ’73. Previously, Crenshaw and Justin Leonard were the only two players with four wins in a single season. Both went on to win majors as pros.
That’s a winning haul that Texas-ex Jordan Spieth couldn’t match as a freshman in 2012.
Hossler was a shoo-in semifinalist for this year’s Ben Hogan Award, collegiate golf’s Heisman Trophy. In nine events so far this season, Hossler has finished in the top 10 a whopping eight times.
This coming week, Hossler will lead the Longhorns at the Big 12 golf championship at Whispering Pines in Trinity. Then it’s on to the NCAA regionals and possibly the NCAA national championship in Eugene, Ore. UT has won three men’s golf national titles, the last coming when Spieth led the charge in 2012. Now Rae’s Creek references may dominate his Google searches for years to come.
So yes, when you understand how much Hossler has done since 2012 and how much yet remains, it’s easy to see why he gets worked up. This is a confident player whose golf journey has only just begun, Hossler’s roommate and UT teammate Kalena Preus said.
“Last night, we were watching the 2015 Masters and he goes, ‘I’m going to win that tournament one year.’ And he was confident,” Preus said.
Learning the game
Hossler was born on March 16, 1995, on what was most likely a sunny Thursday in Mission Viejo, Calif.
He played several sports, like any youngster would. According to family lore, Hossler’s father, Beau Sr., got his son into playing golf at Mission Viejo Country Club, a Robert Trent Jones course built in 1967. It plays 7,143 yards from the tips as players weave through sycamore trees with the Saddleback Mountains in the distance.
“May have shot a 67 there,” Hossler said. “To be honest, I don’t play it from the back tees when I’m practicing. I’d really like to make some birdies.”
Once it became apparent Beau Jr. had some talent, his father started searching for possible instructors. Where to look? Google, of course.
“His dad literally went online and typed in ‘Best golf instructors in Southern California,’ and they found Jim Flick,” said Bill Schellenberg, Hossler’s godfather and longtime family friend. “Longtime” in this case means, “I was literally in the delivery room door when he was born,” Schellenberg said.
Flick’s internet profile was sensational. He began playing golf at age 10, same as Hossler, and roomed with an aspiring golfer named Arnold Palmer while the two were at Wake Forest. Flick taught golf in 23 countries, wrote five books about the sport and most famously guided Jack Nicklaus.
So the Hosslers drove down Interstate 5 to Carlsbad, Calif., where Flick gave lessons.
Describing Hossler, Flick once told ESPN, “He’s kind of like Tim Tebow. He doesn’t look so good practicing, but once the tournament starts, he’s a gamer.”
Strangely enough, Flick never got out and followed Hossler around the course. It’s possible that Flick never saw him play in person at all. “He used to call Beau, ‘Coach,’” Schellenberg said. “When he’s not playing in these golf tournaments, he’s got to be his own coach.”
Flick wanted Hossler to self-identify improper swing mechanics and, presumably, fix things on his own, too. Nobody’s on the course talking in Hossler’s ear during competition, Hossler figured. So why should his coach be doing that during practice?
“He coached me a lot in golf,” Hossler said, “but he coached me a lot in life.”
Six years into the relationship, Flick died of pancreatic cancer in November 2012. “Mr. Flick,” as Hossler calls him, was 82.
Rising through the ranks
In 2009, a 14-year-old Hossler qualified for the U.S. Amateur championship at Southern Hills in Tulsa, Okla.
Even with a 5-foot-3 frame at that point, Hossler could drive the ball 235 yards. He didn’t advance into the match play rounds, but he shot a pair of 77s.
“That’s absolutely when I knew what was coming,” said Schellenberg, who ended up serving as Hossler’s caddie at various events over the years, including that 2012 U.S. Open.
Two years later, Schellenberg was set to accompany Hossler to an American Junior Golf Association event in the Houston area. As Schellenberg remembers it, Hossler initiated a conversation about college while sitting in the airport.
“He turns to me and says, ‘Uncle Bill, I’m seriously considering going to Texas,’” Schellenberg said. “He said, ‘I’ve got to learn to play on Bermuda grass and I’ve got to learn to play in the wind.’”
This was OK with Schellenberg, who had grown up in Houston, moved to California as a sophomore in high school and played junior college basketball on the West Coast. But he transferred into UT in 1991 and graduated with a finance degree from its business school in ’93.
Hossler and Schellenberg squeezed in a side visit to Austin during that 2011 trip. They toured both the UT Golf Club and Austin Country Club. Maybe the same trip again in 2012, too. Texas coach John Fields ultimately offered Hossler a spot on the roster, and it was done.
Golf isn’t like other sports. Coaching at the collegiate level is quite different. Fields admits he doesn’t work with players on swing mechanics. Sure, coaches help with fundamentals. But all top-level players have their own personal coaches, Fields said.
Sophomore Scottie Scheffler works with Randy Smith, who guided Justin Leonard. Taylor Funk, son of eight-time PGA Tour winner Fred Funk, works with Cameron McCormick, who tutors Spieth.
Hossler now works with Adam Porzak, who is based in San Diego. At 29, Porzak is younger than most coaches, and believes he can better adapt to the next generation.
Porzak was an assistant captain on the 2012 U.S. Junior Ryder Cup team, which Hossler played on. Porzak was already working with various amateurs in Illinois, but knew Hossler was different.
“Injuries led me to teaching for a momentary time, and I thought, ‘Oh, I’ll come back and play.’ And then I met Beau Hossler,” Porzak said. “He’s probably the reason i did not pursue a playing career again.”
Fields believes it’s his job to recruit multiple alpha dogs and then, essentially, stay out of their way.
“I knew there would be other players that win a lot and are not satisfied with anything short of winning,” Hossler said. “That’s been huge.”
Golfweek has Hossler slotted as the world’s No. 2 amateur golfer. He ranks fourth according to World Amateur Golf Ranking. But Hossler wasn’t even the No. 1-slotted player on his own team at times this season. Gavin Hall has won twice this spring, including the Maxwell tournament earlier this month. Doug Ghim finished third at the Valspar tournament in March.
Sure, Hossler is an exceptional player, but to say he solely carries the Longhorns is a gross mischaracterization. Texas is ranked No. 1 in the country at the moment because of the deep roster.
“I was able to talk to Jordan about it, and that’s what he was saying,” Hall said. “They had five guys that could win individual titles, and that’s kind of what you need. You need camaraderie within the team and the coaches.”
Going pro now or later?
All of Hossler’s success leads to an eventual, obvious question: When is he going pro?
“I’m not going to tell you I’m turning pro. I’m not going to tell you I’m staying,” Hossler said. “I just don’t know yet.”
It’s widely thought around the UT practice facility that winning the 2012 national title played a major role in Spieth’s decision to turn pro midway through his sophomore season.
“I can’t tell you how many people have said, ‘Don’t you wish Jordan stayed for a couple more years or finished his career at Texas?’ My answer to that is absolutely not,” Fields said. “Every tournament Jordan plays in, it’s all about Texas, our program and our success. And he’s sharing that with the world.
“If Beau creates opportunities for himself,” Fields said, “he needs to look at those.”
Hossler’s average score of 69.66 is the third-lowest nationally, according to Golfstat.com. Stanford’s Maverick McNealy (69.04) and Arizona State’s Jon Rahm (69.43) rank 1-2, respectively. All three players have carded five eagles this season. In 26 total rounds, Hossler has finished 20 of those under par.
Equipment manufacturers and tour sponsors will gladly give money to players with stats like that. Just on his amateur world ranking alone, Hossler can probably get the PGA-maximum seven tournament exemptions next year.
“I think right now, the focus of what I’m doing is playing well every tournament for this team,” Hossler said. “I told coach Fields when I got to school here, I wanted to win a national championship.”
At home, Hossler can unplug, not that finance majors have a ton of downtime. He and Preus watch “Shark Tank,” ESPN and the Golf Channel. Preus said his roommate can make “very consistent pork chops.”
Living with one of the best amateur golfers in the world is often times not as glamorous as it sounds. But Preus is eager to see what Hossler’s future holds.
“As a friend, a teammate and also just a fan of the game, we can’t foretell what the future is going to be like,” Preus said. “But I’m definitely excited to watch my friend climb.”