Geoff Ogilvy walked into the locker room two weeks ago at the Barracuda Championship and didn’t recognize many faces. He’s pretty sure they didn’t recognize him, either.
“They were probably thinking, ‘Who’s that old guy with the beard and no hair?’” he said.
That would be a U.S. Open champion at Winged Foot, the winner of three World Golf Championships who once reached as high as No. 3 in the world and then quietly walked away to spend more time in golf course design and promoting youth golf at home in Australia.
And now Ogilvy is back. He’s just not sure for how long, or even where.
“I’m dipping my toes into the ‘playing golf’ ocean,” Ogilvy said upon arriving in Detroit for the Rocket Mortgage Classic.
It will be his second PGA Tour event in the last three weeks, which is a lot for the 45-year-old considering his last PGA Tour appearance was four years ago before finding a window to move his family to Melbourne.
Ogilvy never intended to abandon the game entirely. His hope was a limited playing schedule combined with design work with the golf architecture firm OCM. But then the COVID-19 pandemic happened and forced him to change direction.
Getting out of the country wasn’t the issue. It was getting back in.
“I got forced into pivoting to more full-time design and school pickups and drop-offs,” Ogilvy said. The oldest of his three children is Phoebe, who turns 16 in the fall.
“It was nice to spend so much time with them — long periods of time, not a week here and a week there. It was great. But I was getting itchy to play golf. I’d like to be able to play some tournaments. As much as it’s been enjoyable sitting around with the kids and doing design work, it illustrated to me what I am as a golfer.”
OCM is keeping him plenty busy with a renovation plan for Medinah No. 3 ahead of the 2026 Presidents Cup. What led him back to the PGA Tour was a new club Ogilvy, Mike Cocking and Ashley Mead are designing about two hours west of Minneapolis called Tepetonka.
During a site visit in April, he was told to come back in July for the 3M Open on an exemption. He made plans for the Barracuda Championship in Lake Tahoe — the last of his eight PGA Tour titles in 2014 — but the 3M Open exemption never materialized. He instead was given a spot at Detroit Golf Club.
“I miss contention,” Ogilvy said. “I don’t really miss the Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday grinding part of the Tour. Winning is a bonus, but that’s not really it. It’s the last nine holes. Being in the mix is the addiction. If I can’t do that, I won’t do it for long.”
He has played a dozen or so times in Australia, and his foundation was behind a new event called the Sandbelt Invitational held over four Melbourne courses, for men and women, pros and amateurs. He also took part in the ISPS Handa Vic Open, where men and women compete alongside each other (different tees) for the same prize fund.
Four years can seem like a long time in golf, and Ogilvy dips his toes in the water as college players are diving in. He sounded no less excited.
“There’s something about us with golf where ... there’s such a strong drive to play better, which never goes away,” he said.