James H. U. "Jim" Hughes
Jim Hughes started playing croquet on his family's dairy farm in Wilmington, Delaware when he was just a young boy. Although his father died when Jim was only nine years old, he still remembers his father and mother playing croquet almost every night during the summer. His parents encouraged the children to play and taught them to love the game. And although there would be quite a few years between those croquet games on the farm and his national croquet title, Jim's love of the game never changed. It has lead him to where he is tonight as the recipient of the highest honor in American croquet, induction into the U.S. Croquet Hall of Fame.
Jim, together with his brother Tom, continued the family tradition of playing croquet on Jim's lawn over the years. But it was really his daughters who lead him into competitive croquet. Jim's daughter Marnie happened upon the U.S. Nationals taking place in Central Park in New York City in the mid-1980's. She returned home and announced, "you can play as good as those guys, Dad." And in 1984, while visiting his other daughter Beth in London, Jim bought an official Jaques croquet set and lugged it home.
It was in 1986 that Jim, his brother Tom, Rufus Bayard and Jeff Simonton founded the Delaware Croquet Club on an unused lawn tennis court at the old Wilmington Country Club. Jim and Tom proudly entered the USCA Mid-Atlantic Regionals that summer. Jim's first regional victory would be against Betty Payne in the B Flight of the Mid-Atlantics. Jim reminisces, "I remember being terrified to play Betty in that final game, but what a thrill it was to win it!"
Jim met Jack Osborn at that tournament. "I remember meeting Jack Osborn who was lying on a chaise by the pool at Bob Clayton's home. I asked him what he did for a living and he said, "Oh, I run the sport of croquet.", and I remember asking "Do you get paid to do that?", Jack just laughed.
Bitten by the competitive croquet bug, Jim headed for Palm Beach and the 1987 National Club Team Championships. He and Tom finished second in the First Flight, but he saw what the sport was all about and met some great people. He and Peggy decided to buy a house at PGA National in 1988. He also decided to upgrade his home court in Pennsylvania to a full size championship quality bent grass court. Jim credits his advancement in the sport to his playing friends and family in Delaware and PGA who were always up for a good competitive game.
Jim went on to win many club, invitational, regional and national titles.
Highlights include his 1991 U.S. National Club Teams win with fellow Croquet Club at PGA National member Bob Yount, his 1992 Mid-Atlantic Regional Doubles title with son Jay and his 1993 U.S. National Doubles Title with Bob Kroeger. But the thrill of his croquet career was his 1996 U.S. National Singles title where he battled out of the loser's bracket to win it all!
Along the way Jim became intrigued by the workings of the USCA and was never one to say "no" to a challenge that was asked of him. Jim has served as the Chairman of both the Handicapping Committee and the Rules Committee. He has served as a member of the USCA Executive Committee and on the USCA Management Committee as the Vice President of the Mid Atlantic Region. He is currently the Vice President of the USCA. He has been a stalwart supporter of the USCA an asset to the organization for over a decade.
It is with great pride that the Croquet Foundation of America welcomes Jim Hughes into the U.S. Croquet Hall of Fame.
James H. U. "Jim" Hughes was inducted into the United States Croquet Hall of Fame in 1998.