Ashburn, Va (September 25, 2015) – So, what did you do on your summer break? For Virginia Tech golfer Maclain Huge, the answer is, “Win a state championship!”
The rising senior from Lovettsville, Virginia broke out of the immense shadow of recent graduates Trevor Cone and Scott Vincent and firmly established himself as the new top dog, or Hokie, on the links in Blacksburg.
Huge defeated Mark Lawrence Jr., 4 & 3, in the 36-hole final of the 102nd VSGA State Amateur on July 3 at the Farmington Country Club in Charlottesville, Virginia. Huge advanced to match play following two rounds of stroke play, and as one of 32 golfers in match play, he won two matches a day on July 1 and 2 before embarking on the grueling 36-hole final.
With the win, Huge joins quite an illustrious group that has claimed the Schwarzchild Brothers Trophy. Past winners include Vinny Giles, Curtis Strange, Lanny Wadkins, his brother Bobby, and Keith Decker. Mark Lawrence, the father of Huge’s opponent in the finals, won the title in 1980. Huge is very aware of the history and importance of the title and the trophy.
“It feels really good to be on that list,” Huge said. “It was the 102nd Virginia Amateur, so it’s so good to be on that list and see the past winners’ successes after they have won. So, hopefully, I’ll follow in their footsteps because they had pretty good careers, to say the least.”
With the win, Huge becomes the first Hokie to claim the title since Connie Sellers in 1951.
Playing in the State Amateur is markedly different than playing in a collegiate tournament because of its mixture of both stroke play and match play. But Huge went about attacking the tournament in much the same way as he plays his collegiate events.
“My dad and I mapped out a game plan for the tournament and really stuck with it the entire time,” he said. “The main thing that I’ve done differently over the past year is just really think about what shots I’m going to hit, how I’m going to play the hole and just minimize the risks. Choose what holes I’m going to attack.
“The toughest part of playing in a tournament like this – it’s really cliché – but it’s staying in the moment. After the stroke play, I kept getting texts from a lot of people at night, especially the Tech guys, that told me to keep going. But I was just trying to think about one match, the next match, and actually just the first hole of that match. Staying in the moment was what was most important that week.”
The hybrid approach of the VSGA State Amateur provides its own challenges. Although the same format as the U.S. Amateur, stroke play leading into match play is totally different from the regular season and NCAA regionals for the Hokies. But Huge adapted and thrived under this format.
“In the past, I would consider myself to be a better match play golfer, but over the past year or so, I think it would be more of stroke play because I’m playing smarter,” he said. “It would be cool to say, ‘I’m the top seed,’ but all you’re trying to do is get in the top 32 in stroke play, while in other tournaments, you are trying to win. But in this one, once you get to the match play, then you start going.
“Mentally, playing 36 holes in one day for a championship was tough. The final 18, I can remember saying to my dad, ‘30 seconds at a time, 30 seconds at a time’ referring to when it was time to hit the shot, and just lock in. But at other times, I let my mind wander because you can’t really stay in the zone for eight hours.”
A crowd in Charlottesville, in any athletics endeavor, can be a little unnerving for a Hokie, and the final day at Farmington proved to be just that. But Huge did have one familiar face outside the ropes.
“The only person to come up the final day was Coach [Jay] Hardwick [Tech’s golf coach],” Huge said. “He was there bright and early at 7:30 a.m. on the last day for the 36-hole match. I knew he was coming, but I figured he’d come for the second 18. But he was out of the car and on the first tee at 7:30 in the morning, cheering me on. It was fun.
“We probably had about 150 people following us. It was really fun to have all the people around and cheering, whether it was for me or against me. It was Charlottesville. I wasn’t really welcome there, being from Tech. I’ve known Mark for a while, and he’s from Richmond, so it seemed like 148 of the 150 fans were cheering for Mark. For me, it seemed like Coach Hardwick and the head pro there, Mr. McNamara [Rob McNamara] were cheering for me.”
So what about his family? Surely they were there, right? Well, not all of them.
“My dad was caddying, but my mom and sisters were at home,” Huge said. “They are so superstitious that they went shopping the first day. And, unfortunately for my dad, after I won the first day, they decided to just keep going back shopping every day.”
Huge is using this summer and all the top-level events he is playing as a learning tool and a catalyst for his senior season at Virginia Tech. Experiences of this nature can only help the rising senior, who will be looked upon to lead this year’s team, both on and off the course.
“The biggest thing I learned, both during the summer and at the State Amateur, is to minimize mistakes,” he said. “In the past, I’ve always done fine in making birdies. Sometimes, I’d make seven birdies, but I’d shoot 1-under because I also made six bogeys, or something like that. I don’t have to hit driver every hole.
“My dad has helped me with that, too. At Farmington, I hit three drivers each round. There is just no point in hitting more drivers. Being more selective on my holes has really helped a lot. Par is never going to hurt you.”
The future is bright for both Huge and his Hokie teammates. The title was a big thrill and quite a feather in the cap for him, but the grounded young man is already looking forward to the fall and getting on the course with his teammates. It’s been quite a summer for Huge – and here’s to what he hopes is a great fall.
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