Future famous: The future PGA tour winner

Senior Mackenzie Hughes at the Ferrara & Page Golf Center on Jan. 27. Photo by Brian Smith.

Rachel Jones

Editor’s note: This story is part one of four in our “future famous” series, where we profile students who will have an impact in the years to come.

Mackenzie Hughes did not need a babysitter as a child.

Instead, his parents brought him with them when they went to play golf. Hughes would hit the ball off the tee, pick it up, run down to the green and putt it in.

It started when he was 6 years old, but he said, “I was just hooked.”

Growing up in Ontario, Canada, Hughes had to play in junior tournaments to make a name for himself and catch the attention of college scouts.

“I started to branch out when I was about 16 years old and played in front of American coaches,” Hughes said. “I competed well at the national level, got picked up by Kent State and (Kent State head coach) Herb Page, and the rest is history.”

When the recruiting process began, Page said Hughes definitely caught his eye.

“I was recruiting someone else up in Ontario, and there was Mackenzie,” Page said with a laugh. “He was just 15. He hit a terrible golf shot. We still laugh about when I first saw his first shot.”

But Hughes’ athletic ability and sound shots made him a sure candidate for the Kent State men’s golf team years later. Page returned to recruit Hughes for the Flashes during the Ontario Junior Championships when he was 17 years old.

“He has what we call speed,” Page said. “That means he’s very athletic, has a lot of club head speed and can hit the ball very hard.”

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More future famous

As a member of the Canadian National Team, Hughes has the tools to continue playing amateur golf this summer.

His Canadian National Team coach will assist him when he goes for a professional career in the fall, but Hughes can also rely on help from Page and Rob Wakeling, Kent State associate head coach.

“For the most part, I’m pretty low-maintenance,” Hughes said. “I won’t go to them unless I really need to straighten something out, but it’s great to have all of those eyes on me.”

After coaching alumni like Ben Curtis to the PGA Tour, Page is confident he can help Hughes do the same.

Hughes said basically anyone who fills out paperwork and pays to play in bigger tournaments is essentially considered a professional golfer. But most people don’t realize that not everyone who pays makes money at the end.

“If I go play a tournament with an $800 entry fee, they think I’ll just enter it and make money,” Hughes said. “You pay $1,500 with all of your expenses during the week, and there’s not always a guarantee that you’ll make your money back. You might just break even or make a little bit of money. It’s a tough process.”

But Hughes is willing to go through the process and pursue a professional career for his love of golf.

“You can never really perfect golf,” he said. “You can always get better. I like the fact that it’s all on you, and you have control over what happens. If you prepare properly and practice hard, good things will happen.”

For Hughes, the best thing would be to play on the PGA Tour and play as long as he can.

“People might say it’s a lofty goal,” Hughes admitted. “But if you work hard, it’s definitely possible. I know it’s possible, and I know I can do it.”

Page is also confident in his dreams and is looking forward to watching Hughes play on TV someday.

“As we say when they leave, ‘It’ll be fun watching him,’” Page said. “There are big things ahead for Mackenzie Hughes. He’s a champion.”

Contact Rachel Jones at [email protected].