Q&A with Mark Hubbard on skiing, learning to win and more
March 05, 2019
By Adam Stanley, PGATOUR.COM
- San Jose State alum Mark Hubbard secured his first Web.com Tour title at last month's LECOM Suncoast Classic. (Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
On the Web.com Tour in early 2019, Mark Hubbard hadn’t finished under-par at any event until he arrived at the LECOM Suncoast Classic.
Hubbard, a past member of the PGA TOUR, broke out. He fired 26-under par and won by two.
The 29-year-old knows what it takes to win, now, on the Web.com Tour, and is on the right track toward earning his TOUR card once again via The 25. He says you can’t teach experience, and the San Jose State University alum has that in spades.
He has one of the most memorable moments in Pebble Beach history – having proposed to his longtime girlfriend Meghan on the 18th green at the 2015 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am – but the affable Hubbard doesn’t just want to be known for that. He wants more, and the early-season Web.com Tour victory could be a springboard for more great things to come.
Hubbard spent a few minutes with PGA TOUR Digital talking about his love of skiing, his large, mixed family, and of course, that proposal.
Mark Hubbard interview after winning LECOM Suncoast Classic
You’re no stranger to getting to big stages and competing – and you’ve won before on the Mackenzie Tour-PGA TOUR Canada – but to win on the Web.com Tour level was it a little different in terms of how you’re feeling now?
Yeah! It’s mixed – I say that because winning is awesome, obviously, and it’s what I came to this Tour with the mindset of trying to do. It’s OK (that) I was coming to the Web.com Tour because I needed to learn how to win again. (Winning) was a goal, and to accomplish that was huge. At the same time, it’s hard. The feeling I felt after winning versus in 2014 when I got my (PGA TOUR) card … winning on this Tour doesn’t mean you get a two-year exemption. It’s a stepping-stone in the process toward the ultimate goal of getting back to the PGA TOUR.
It was huge for me from a mental/personal aspect; in terms of a season-long goal, it’s super helpful. But you can’t have that take-a-deep-breath-I-did-it moment, because there’s still so much to be done.
This year as whole, well, professional golf is kind of funny. A good result in Panama (T19), but you hadn’t finished under-par at any tournament so far. What changed that week in Florida?
I have a history – the way I play, I feel like I have a chance to win a U.S. Open. I love tournaments where single-digits win. I’m definitely a grinder. My short game is pretty good and I just tooth-and-nail dig it out. I find myself consistently complaining to (my wife and family) about how consistently low scores are on this Tour because it’s a birdie festival. But now they’re like, ‘You can never (complain) again, because you just shot 26-under.’ I was like, ‘OK, fair’ (laughs).
I felt like I was doing a lot of really good things the first couple weeks, but I was just making a lot of mistakes. All my misses were in places you couldn’t miss. That was the biggest thing because the birdies had been there but I needed to play a little more disciplined.
I was super-focused on things I could control. The last few years, I’ve been way too results-oriented and worried about stuff that’s out of my control. Mentally I took that out of the equation and I made it super easy on myself. Every time we missed a shot, it was in a perfectly fine place.
We did a good job of managing our emotions and game plan, but also our misses. This Tour, you have to play so well. You can’t make double bogey, it’s like a three-shot swing on a hole. We did a really good job keeping it front of us and making it easy.
And good results come from there?
It’s amazing – stress-free pars are better than hard bogeys, but it’s amazing how much more energy you have to make birdie and be aggressive when you’re tapping in for par versus grinding out eight-footers. It snowballs from there.Mark Hubbard currently stands No. 4 on the Web.com Tour Regular Season Points List. (Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Growing up in Colorado, was it always golf? Or did you play other sports?
I played a ton of other sports. Golf was honestly like my third-favorite sport, and it still might be (laughs). I grew up skiing, and at this point I’m probably just as good a skier as I am golfer. I still do that a lot. I played basketball all the way through high school and looked at a few schools where I could play both. I wasn’t going to the NBA but I chose golf. We still ski a lot. I played soccer, football, and baseball growing up, but those were my big three – skiing, basketball, and golf.
Have you traveled anywhere for skiing?
It’s tough because when we ski is when we’re home for the off-season in Colorado visiting family. We haven’t made any ski trips; it’s more like we just need a break from the family so we go up to the mountains for a few days. I’ve done Utah and Colorado and Tahoe and that’s about it. My wife is from Sacramento so we get up there a lot depending on which family we’re visiting for Christmas. Our two biggest ones (to visit for skiing) are Montana and Canada.
Your proposal at Pebble Beach remains such a great moment on TOUR, but how much do you want to be known, in your career, as more than just the guy who proposed at Pebble Beach?
Honestly the whole proposal thing got blown up a lot more than I thought it would. We went to school at San Jose State in the Bay Area, and Monterey was always our getaway spot; it was just a place we loved. We had a ton of family and friends down for that tournament, so we did it then more for the people close to us. It looked good for the TOUR and they did an awesome job helping me do it.
The fact that it was on SportsCenter and all this stuff … none of that was planned. It’s been funny, because for most of my career … if I play I a pro-am, that’s the first thing they say: ‘Oh, you’re the guy that proposed (at Pebble Beach),’ and I’m like, ‘Yup, I also play a little golf on the side’ (laughs). That was a super special moment for us and one we’ll never forget. Ideally I’d like to get into the U.S. Open and have a great finish at Pebble this year and have it be known for that, and not the proposal. It was a cool day.
We apparently had a conversation a couple months before and at some point she said (that) when I proposed, she didn’t want it to be in a public setting. I, of course, have no recollection of that conversation whatsoever. We’d been together for like eight years at that point so I couldn’t just take her to dinner; we’d been to 1,000 dinners. I had to do something more grand that that. She says it’s perfect now, but of course, she had said that to me at some point.
Did you get married in California as well?
At the time we were still living in California, so we got married, basically, in between San Jose and Santa Cruz. When you’re driving there, there are some awesome vineyards and some redwood (trees). It was awesome.
Mark Hubbard proposes to girlfriend after round at AT&T Pebble Beach
There’s a great photo of you celebrating with a drink out of the LECOM Suncoast Classic trophy. Having roots in Colorado and California, are you into the craft beer scene?
Yeah, very much so! Both Colorado and Northern California have it pretty good. Meghan’s mom is from Chico, and her brother went to Chico State so they’re a huge Sierra Nevada (Brewing Co.) family and I have the Colorado side, so we definitely love a good cold one (laughs).
I want to talk about your ideal foursome that’s on your PGA TOUR profile because it’s pretty fascinating.
Well, for the first three or four years of my career, whatever was on the PGA TOUR website, my mom had written. I did update it recently, within the last year (laughs).
It includes Harvey Ward, Walter Hagen, and Yohann Benson. Tell me a little about those picks?
Harvey Ward and Walter Hagen were just two guys from the past that I feel like I could relate to. They weren’t the stereotypical professionals. They didn’t have the stereotypical swing or the stereotypical demeanor. One of my favorite quotes from Walter Hagen is about how three horrible shots and one great one can still save par. I definitely have lived and golfed that way my entire life, just talking about being gritty and grinding it out. Both him and Harvey enjoyed life as well as golf, so I can definitely relate to both of them. Yohann is one of my best friends and caddied for me forever. He’s definitely one of my favorite people to play with. If I had Harvey Ward and Walter Hagen, I couldn’t add some stiff to the group, I’d have to have someone to keep the fun going. Yohann isn’t afraid of a good money game so I think the four of us would have a great day.Mark Hubbard's eclectic family includes a 13-year-old brother and a 45-year-old brother. (Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Your family dynamic, growing up, what was that like?
I actually grew up as an only child; I don’t have any siblings from my parents’ marriage. It’s the craziest family tree ever. My dad was married and he had two kids; they’re my older half-brother and sister, but there is a 12- to 13-year gap between us. They were around when I was really little, but then they were off to college and starting their lives. For most of my childhood I was an only child, but when I was 10 or 11, my mom remarried my stepdad who already had two kids, my two stepbrothers, and they’re six or seven years younger than me. So from when I was 10 to when I went to university, I was the oldest. I went from being the youngest to the only and then the oldest. Then my mom and my stepdad had a little ‘oopsie’ (laughs), so I have a 13-year-old brother. So I have a 13-year-old and a 45-year-old brother. I’ve been the youngest, the oldest, the only, but technically, I’m the middle. Pretty crazy stuff. There was a lot going on.
My parents got divorced when I was four, so from five on, I had two households and different siblings coming and going. That kind of life, growing up that way, let me be adaptable. I would put huge emphasis on that helping me in the lifestyle I’m in right now. It has just helped me to transition really easily and be fine to live on the road and out of a suitcase, stuff like that. A lot of kids, from families of divorce, are really messed up by it. But it was one of the best things that ever happened to me. They handled it well, they’re still friends, they raised me well. More than anything, they prepared me for this lifestyle without really knowing it, in a weird way.
You’re 29 and certainly still a young guy, but not like someone who might be 21 or 22, right out of college. As you look ahead to the rest of the Web.com Tour season and with your past on the PGA TOUR, do you think that will help?
Absolutely. You can’t teach experience. Having competed on some of those courses that are really demanding, that you have to really think your way around, that helps me in a lot of different ways. Having played against such great players – like with Phil (Mickelson) on Sunday at the Desert Classic and playing with Justin Rose and Bill Haas on Sunday at Pebble Beach, where both times I frankly had a chance to do something great. I played with Rickie (Fowler) on a Saturday in the third-to-last group. It’s big-time players and I knew I could hang with them, beat them, and compete with them; you can’t teach that kind of experience. I think that helps me a lot on this Tour. I just know what it takes to get back to the PGA TOUR but also stay on the PGA TOUR and compete on the PGA TOUR.
You’re never happy coming off the PGA TOUR, but at the same time, the last time I was up there, I was good enough to be there but I don’t think I was good enough to win and compete at that high of a level. Finishing 30th every week on the TOUR is nice for your bank account, but that’s not why you play. You play to win. And I feel like the last time I was up there, I just frankly wasn’t ready to win. So I’m back on this Tour and I wanted to figure things out. I have now, and I want to get a couple more under my belt. When I do get my card back, whether it’s this year or next year, I’m going to be ready to win, and that’s the big, important thing for me.