HOUSTON (BVM) — Raghav Chugh established himself as one of the best collegiate golfers in the country with Conference USA Freshman of the Year Honors in 2022. Now the Rice University standout aims to become the next Indian golfer to make it to the PGA Tour, and he’s carrying plenty of motivation to make that dream a reality.
Growing up, Chugh was interested in cricket, the most popular sport in India, but with most of the country playing it, he and his family soon realized that his talents might be on the links.
“Golf isn’t so big in India,” Chugh said. “I used to play cricket, and my grandfather enrolled me in a summer [golf] program back in the summer of 2012. He got me into it, and he used to take me every day, and once he saw that I started getting good, he told me I should probably leave cricket and focus on golf.”
Chugh’s skills began to flourish, and they led him to become the No. 1 ranked junior player in India and take home a five-stroke victory at the 2019 U.S. Kids Golf World Teen Championship at Pinehurst No. 2. There were a lot of things that helped him accomplish what he did, and that included looking up to Tiger Woods.
“When I started playing golf, Tiger was injured, and he was going through a rough patch,” Chugh said. “I’ve seen highlights of his game, but I didn’t see him at his peak. But when he came back in 2019 and won The Masters, he said in a press conference, ‘When I show up to a tournament, I show up because I know I can win,’ and he actually did it at 43, and that was really impressive.”
Following a player like Woods has benefits, and Chugh has seen those come to fruition by implementing Woods’ mindset into his own game.
“Whenever he’s on the course, it’s like he’s there for business,” Chugh said. “I don’t know any sportsman who plays to come in second or third. They’re always there to win.”
— The Masters (@TheMasters) April 9, 2023
“I look up to Sahith, and I’ve played golf with him,” Chugh said. “He’s also trying to get golf big in India because he’s got family there, but his career is young. It’s only his second or third year on the PGA Tour, but he’s done a lot already.”
The impact family has on an athlete can be unique, and Chugh’s family still motivates him, and they keep up with how he does with the Owls.
“He [his grandfather] still talks to me every day and asks me about my game,” Chugh said. “He follows my scores and how I’ve been doing over here. He’s been my main inspiration.”
With plenty of encouragement from those around him, Chugh was looking to grow as a golfer and person. That’s when he decided attending Rice was in his best interest.
“When I decided to play college golf, I wanted to get a good academic degree at the same time,” Chugh said. “You never know what could happen going into the future. You could get injured or something, so it’s always a good backup plan, and coming to Rice was harder than I initially thought it was going to be, and it’s taught me a lot, like time management and discipline.”
Chugh adds a birdie on the 11th hole. pic.twitter.com/LcWqSBAdJ8
— Rice Golf (@RiceGolf) April 3, 2023
With Chugh finding a place to continue his academic career, he’s also seen more success on the course. Last season he was named Conference USA Freshman of the Year, and this season, he’s been awarded Conference USA Golfer of the Week three times. He also knows that plenty of pressure comes with performing at the D-I level, but he isn’t letting it affect him.
Raghav Chugh earns third @ConferenceUSA Golfer of the Week award this year
— Rice Golf (@RiceGolf) April 5, 2023
“Any sports person that says they don’t get any pressure, that’s not true,” Chugh said. “You have to embrace it. It shouldn’t bog you down or hinder your performance. It should help you embrace the pressure, and that’s how I’ve always looked at it. I want to enjoy my game, and pressure is going to be there, but if I’m doing everything I can and I do my best, it doesn’t matter how it ends.”
Chugh is sure to continue his young and exciting career with the Owls and make waves in golf, but he also knows that golf has done a lot for him and will continue to be a cornerstone in his life.
“Golf is my happy place,” Chugh said. “I can’t imagine doing anything else except playing golf. I spend a majority of my time playing golf, so if I were to look back and see how I would spend my days and evenings after school, I would’ve been so bored if it wasn’t for golf. It’s one of the main constants in my life.”