102-year-old earns his third club championship title
STUART -- That Joe McHugh is the Men's Golf Association champion at Miles Grant Country Club is hardly breaking news -- remember, he's won the title twice before.
But when you consider that McHugh will turn 103 in July, that makes his latest accomplishment quite remarkable.
McHugh, a native of Rochester, New York, has been playing the game longer than most of us have been alive.
He started playing in 1927 when he was 13. His first rounds came at Genesee Golf Course in Rochester and said the game is what keeps him going today.
"When you get up in the morning at 102 and you know that you're going to be playing golf," said McHugh, who moved to Stuart 12 years ago, "then I know my day is already made."
In the club tournament, Miles Grant men played four, nine-hole rounds and turned in the best scores from three of them. McHugh's total of 143 over those three rounds on the 4,163-yard, par-64 course beat the rest of the field by three strokes.
"Joe has been a strong competitor around here for a number of years," said Susan McAllister, Miles Grant's director of golf. "For a guy his age, he sure gets around and is very active. He is very helpful with other members and always has a positive attitude.
"He is a walking legend around here."
McHugh said one of his first jobs as a teenager was picking up golf balls at a local driving range in Rochester, which gave him access to refine his swing.
"That allowed me to get off to a good start," McHugh said.
McHugh attended St. Michael's College in Toronto to learn a profession he would practice until he was 80: dentistry.
He served in the Army during World War II, first in England and later in France. It was during his time serving overseas as an oral surgeon that McHugh experienced a round of golf he will never forget.
A chance meeting with a stranger on the street resulted in a train ride to Fife, Scotland, and a round on The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, one of the oldest and most prestigious courses in the world.
"When we finished the (St. Andrew's) 18th hole, a man came along and greeted us, said he had great respect that we were soldiers and took us into the clubhouse," McHugh said. "That was one of the high points of my life."
It was also during the war that McHugh met the love of his life -- his wife, June, an Army nurse from Colorado. Together they had five children -- a daughter Maureen, and sons James, Michael, Barry and David -- and played countless rounds of golf together.
"She was quite a golfer herself," McHugh said of his wife, who died eight years ago.
As for his game, McHugh said his best asset is, "I am a very, very straight hitter."
"I hit the ball anywhere from 140 to 160 yards, but right now I'm having a lot of trouble getting ball up in the air," he said. "Still, as dry as it has been, I'm getting plenty of roll. I guess you could say I'm a good putter and my chipping game use to be good, too, but has kind of fallen by the wayside."
McHugh said he prefers early tee times.
"Most of the time we go off at 8 a.m., which is a great time to play," said McHugh, who gets in two or three round each week. "By noontime, I'm ready for a nap."
McHugh said he enjoys playing with buddies Wally Allison, Walt Mason, Don Weeks, Warren Nickerson and countless others at Miles Grant.
"It's one of the nicest group of guys I have ever been around," McHugh said. "Sometimes we play pretty good golf, sometimes we are downright rotten, but nobody walks off the course mad.
"I'm the oldest guy over here. The rest of the guys think they are old and they are only in their 90s." ___
This article is written by Mike Graham from Treasure Coast Newspapers, Stuart, Fla. and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.