Macklin Mucha might be a name to remember.
At 6 years old, the Sherwood resident's golf resume reads like a young Tiger Woods. He's already won 25 youth events — decimating fields like he did at the Oregon State 6-Under Championships at Pumpkin Ridge, winning by 18 strokes — and qualified for national events like the Junior World Golf Championships in Pinehurst, North Carolina, and Drive, Chip and Putt competition with a chance to go to Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters.
But while Mucha aims to win, he's not simply driven by the competition, but also a love for a game he's been playing since he was 2 years old.
"I like golf 1,000 percent," Mucha said.
According to Macklin Mucha's dad, Larry, there's nothing he'd rather do morning, day or night.
"There's something about hitting the ball and chasing it, and trying to get it in the hole," Larry Mucha said. "He loved it from the onset."
The Muchas moved to Oregon when Larry's wife Kelly was pregnant with Macklin. When Macklin was 3, Larry and his wife — who already had a strong love for sports — were looking for things to do with their children, so Larry started taking his kids to the driving range. It didn't take long before he recognized what appeared to be an uncommon aptitude in his youngest son.
"When we first started going up there, I was thinking to myself, 'He seems to have really good hand-eye coordination,' but then I left it at that," Larry Mucha said. "But then the more we went and the better he got, people would come up to us and say, 'Wow, he's fantastic.'"
It was at that time that Larry Mucha decided that if Macklin was going to pursue golf as a competitive sport, he should probably have the proper instruction. He found Langdon Farms' Sean Lanyi, who taught the toddler the basics: proper grip, stance, alignment, all of the things necessary to build a quality golf foundation.
"We started seeing him once a month, and he would teach Macklin a new skill each time," Larry Mucha said. "It was really fun for he and I, and great to spend that time together."
Golf is a difficult game and one that takes countless hours of practice to build the repetition necessary to excel. It's often the little things that differentiate one player from another.
Macklin Mucha has an innate sense of not only what it takes to succeed, but also the drive to pursue it.
"I'm always cautious to say that he has this internal drive that you almost can't teach, but he has this internal competitiveness and a drive to get better," Larry Mucha said. "Sometimes I'll ask him if he wants to play golf today, and he'll say, 'Yes, because I want to be the best.' And that doesn't just show up on the golf course, but also in school, reading, and in other sports.
"It's pretty amazing to see such a little person have that."
Larry Mucha said Macklin is at the golf course probably four days per week, either playing, putting or hitting range balls. But he also said his son always has a club in his hand.
"From the moment he wakes up to the moment he goes to bed, he's just constantly thinking golf," Larry Mucha said. "He's constantly curious and loves the action of swinging the club. Which is fun to see."
Despite his "obsession" with the game, Macklin Mucha is involved in other activities as well. He enjoys school, plays flag football, swims and rides his bike like any other kid, but unlike most kids, he has an uncommon passion at a very uncommon age.
Macklin Mucha typically shoots around par, on golf courses set up at around 1,200 to 1,600 yards. He hits the ball 120 to 130 yards off of the tee.
But it's his consistency and short game that his dad says separates him from most of the other kids.
"I think what differentiates (Macklin) from other kids is just his touch around the green," Larry Mucha said. "When he practices, he always starts with putting and chipping and often spends two hours."
It's important for the Muchas that Macklin isn't just preternaturally good at golf — he enjoys it, too. Larry said that by no means would he want to push his son into something in which he lacks interest.
"Golf is great, and it's fun, and we want to make sure that we can support him in whatever he does — but he's the one that keeps choosing the golf path," Larry Mucha said. "I think most importantly though, it's about making sure that he just has fun."
And the 6-year-old prodigy is having fun. He loves the game, loves Tiger Woods — his favorite player — and thinks it'd be pretty fun to win the Masters or U.S. Open someday.
But Macklin Mucha's motivation is especially personal: It's a way for him to spend time with his father, who first introduced him to golf and continues to support and nourish his big dreams.
"That's why I started the game," Macklin Mucha said, "because I love my dad so much."
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