McHugh has found a sport he’ll play for life
Stars and Stripes November 21, 2023
Stars and Stripes has selected an Athlete of the Year for each of the respective fall sports played across each of DODEA’s Europe and Pacific theaters. Check out our site this week to read profiles for golf (Tuesday), tennis (Wednesday), cross country (Thursday), volleyball (Friday) and football (Saturday).
Ramstein’s Christian McHugh spent a lot of time over the summer tweaking and tinkering with his golf game.
He hit the links as often as he could, including on a visit to his grandparents in Georgia. Between the summer work and finishing tied for fifth place at the 2022 DODEA European golf championships, McHugh entered with high expectations.
Things didn’t start great for the Royal junior, though. On the Modified Stableford scoring system, McHugh opened the season with a total of 13 points at his home course at Woodlawn Golf Course on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, and followed that with a 19 in Stuttgart.
He didn’t let that start get him too down, though.
“When I didn’t shoot so well, I initially was rather disparaged,” McHugh said. “As things looked worse and worse, I was starting to lose hope, but I figured, trust in the process. If I wanted to give up, I should have done it long ago.
“Golf is a big game of ups and downs. It’s like a sine wave almost. The important thing is your new worst is oftentimes better than your previous best.”
His new best definitely was better than his previous high mark.
Recovering from that tough start, the 2023 Stars and Stripes European boys golf Athlete of the Year roared late in the season en route to victory at the 2023 European golf tournament.
McHugh kept himself in striking distance with a 26 in the first round, but he was on fire during the second round. McHugh shot a tournament-high 39, just missing out on hitting 40 points in the end.
He erased a five-point deficit over the first eight holes on the second day, recording three pars and a birdie – on the par-4 fourth hole – over that span. McHugh didn’t stop there, adding another four pars – the Nos. 11, 13, 15 and 16 holes.
McHugh said he didn’t realize how well he played the second round until halfway through, and he was more concerned about enjoying the campaign’s final 18 holes.
“I was not expecting that I would win the European championship,” he said. “I was just going in thinking that it was the last round of the season, so I might as well have a nice time doing it. And I guess I won as well.”
The performance and bounce back from the early season woes didn’t surprise his coach, Kent Enyeart.
The Ramstein mentor described McHugh as a perfectionist who has struggled before and knows how to bounce back. The golfer showed it often during the championships, getting out of the rough with relative ease and putting himself in good position to score high on holes.
“When he hits a bad shot, he understands how to recover from that,” Enyeart said. “He doesn’t try anything tricky. He understands that all it takes is that one good shot to get back on.”
As for what the future holds for McHugh, he said he has thought about playing collegiately, but he admitted the higher levels of the sport probably are too cut-throat for him.
In fact, what draws the Ramstein junior to the sport is the laid-back, slow nature of the game. He called golf his getaway from the hustle and bustle of life.
“Golf is a sport I absolutely want to continue playing later on in life,” McHugh said. “It’s the kind of sport when even while I’m old, I still want to be able to hook up with my buddies and go up for a round of 18 or something.”