Joey Hodges, a senior for the Dr. Phillips High golf team, recently won the Bay Hill Junior Club Championship for the fourth time.
Growing up as a Bay Hill resident, Joey Hodges has been able to see his share of professional golf at the neighborhood’s famous golf course.
The senior at Dr. Phillips High can recall, for instance, observing the course’s signature Arnold Palmer Invitational in 2013 — the last time that Tiger Woods won the event.
Hodges said his favorite aspect about the course is its history, so when he won the Bay Hill Junior Club Championship for the fourth time in the past five years (spanning three different age groupings) Oct. 7, it mattered to him.
“It’s pretty cool to be a winner here (at Bay Hill),” Hodges said.
Hodges navigated the links at one of Central Florida’s signature courses — as well as some disagreeable weather — to win the one-day event once again.
“I played well, but I left some shots out there,” Hodges said. “There was bad weather, which caused a very long round of delays, so that probably threw me off my game a little. But I dealt with it.”
For Hodges, whose full name is Joey Hodges III, golf has been a part of his life for as long as he can remember — and it always has been a family affair.
“I think I’ve had a club in my hand since I was born, just because of my dad (Joey Hodges Jr.),” Hodges said. “I’ve been actually playing since I was 5 or so.”
A member at Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club and Lodge since he was 6, Hodges has spent plenty of time watching golf at the highest level — often by the sport’s most famous competitor.
“To see how dominant (Tiger Woods) was in person was something,” Hodges said. “That atmosphere (when Woods plays) is a lot different than it usually is for a golf event. It’s more crowded; it’s louder.”
Of course, Hodges has done more than watch golf over the years. He has played Top 50 Junior Tour events and is in his second season as a captain of the boys golf team at Dr. Phillips High. There, he helps to lead a team that is having a strong fall — and a roster that is loaded with dynamic young players.
“They’re probably better than me,” Hodges said of the talented freshmen and sophomores on the team. “But some of them look up to me just because I’m older and I’m a leader.”
The team, which placed second at the Metro West Conference Championship, has a 9-1 record in match play heading into district and regional competition.
Hodges said he is enjoying the final stretch of his varsity career. Although he would like to continue his career at the college level, he is mentally prepared to go to college in a purely academic role and to continue playing the game he loves on the side. Wherever he should enroll, he hopes to study sports business management.
Looking back, the Bay Hill Junior Club champion singles out his parents — Joey and Paula Hodges — for facilitating his junior and varsity career.
“They’ve been really supportive,” Hodges said. “I’m really appreciative for what they’ve done for me.”