By Ken MacLeod
BARTLESVILLE – It’s a good thing Oklahoma is launching a golf Hall of Fame this year. Somewhere down the line, it may be the only appropriate way to honor what Mike Hughett continues to accomplish.
The 56-year-old Owasso golfer made room on his office trophy shelf Thursday for the 16th OGA plate that recognizes the champion of a state amateur championship. This one came after a 5 and 4 victory over nemesis Kirk Wright of Oklahoma City in the championship match of the OGA Senior State Amateur Championship at Hillcrest Country Club.
It was actually Hughett’s record 17th OGA title (he received a silver tea set one year for winning the Stroke Play championship). And, coming after losses to Wright in the finals in 2013 and the semifinals in 2014 in this event and no championships for two plus years, it was one of his most prized.
"I got spoiled there for a while, it seemed like I was winning one or two a year," Hughett said. "Having gone a couple of years without winning any makes you wonder if you are done or not. You don’t want to think that but the thought certainly goes through your head.
"There were times this week when my game was not very good, but I hung in there and ground out a couple of wins, which you have to do in match play. This is one I really wanted to win again and it meant a lot."
Played in a light rain on a soaked course, the final match was fortunate to be played at all and a testament to superintendent Matt Wilson and his crew that the course played as well as it did. The tree-lined fairways on the beautiful Perry Maxwell layout require precision driving and Wright was out of position frequently early, bogeying the first three holes while Hughett went par-birdie-par to grab command.
Wright, a battalion commander in the Oklahoma City Fire Department, won the fourth hole but was five down by the turn. Even after nearly making a hole-in-one on the 170-yard 12th hole, a bogey on the par-4 13th kept him four down. The match ended with another bogey on the par-4 14th.
"I was not sharp early and you can’t get down that far playing Mike," Wright said. "I had won our last two matches but it was a matter of time. He’s too good and steady. You have to play really well to compete and I didn’t do that today."
Hughett, the chief financial officer at Nordam, played 1-over for 14 holes in the sloppy conditions. He won the OGA Mid-Amateur Championship at this course in 2000 and lost by a shot in the same event in 2005 to Sam MacNaughton, the former OSU player who now is Rickie Fowler’s agent.
Hughett, who grew up in Lincoln, Neb., playing a tight course also named Hillcrest CC, had not played in Bartlesville since the redesign of the greens and bunker complexes by Tripp Davis, completed in 2013.
"The greens are much more difficult than they used to be," Hughett said. "With the bunkers and the severity of the greens, not three-putting can be a real challenge. This morning they were not able to mow the greens or change the pin positions from yesterday, so that made it a bit easier."