SMETHPORT, Pa. — Growing up just a few blocks away from a golf course has turned out to be a blessing for Connor Alfieri.
The Smethport product will soon enter his second year as part of the California University of Pennsylvania (Cal U) men’s golf team.
His father, Tom, first introduced him to the game as a youth, as the duo would spend time at Smethport Country Club. However, it was not exactly love at first swing.
“I didn’t get super serious about golf until middle school because I played a collection of sports growing up,” Alfieri said. “I have an appreciation for all sports, but for me, golf became my main sport in high school.”
FOR ALFIERI, golf isn’t just a game, but also something he credits for teaching him life lessons and an industry he hopes to work in long term.
“I love the morals golf teaches you,” the former Hubbers standout said. “It teaches you how to deal with tough situations and to remain mentally strong. It is just you out there and there is nobody or anything else to blame for something bad happening.”
Through four high school seasons, Alfieri racked up a slew of accolades. He was named Smethport’s Most Valuable Player and league MVP four times. He earned league medalist honors on three occasions, participated in the district championship all four years, was crowned District 9’s individual champion in 2018, qualified for the PIAA Western Regional match three times and for the PIAA Championships as a senior. He was also the recipient of the John Forrest Most Outstanding Golfer Award in the Penn-York Junior League
He added to that long list on Sunday, winning the First Flight at the SWNY-NWPA Men’sAmateur at Bartlett Country Club.
“It means a lot to see the work I put in pay off,” Alfieri said. “In the winter when the snow melted, I would try to hit balls from grass spot to grass spot just to get some swings in and hit balls on my carpet in the basement to simulate a green. I am still driven to keep working and hopefully to win more throughout my college career.”
IN AN uncertain 2020-21 season, the Vulcans did not compete in the fall, but were able to participate in some tournaments in the spring of 2021.
Due to NCAA rules prompted by the pandemic, Alfieri will return to school in the fall with four full years of eligibility remaining. He plans to continue working on his game and furthering his studies.
Alfieri is majoring in sports management with a unique and specific focus in professional golf management (PGM).
The PGM program at Cal U is one of the most highly regarded in the nation, with former Vulcans landing jobs across the United States in a variety of roles in the golf industry. This billion-dollar enterprise has cultivated post-graduate careers such as club professionals, club managers, sales representatives, customer relations representatives and other opportunities.
Alfieri’s goal is to become a head pro for a club.
John Rook, current pro at The Pennhills Club, has influenced and mentored Alfieri’s career. Alfieri is currently completing an internship working with and learning from Rook this summer.
“I really see golf as two games,” Alfieri said. “There is the game that is fun where people can go out with friends and play a round and have a good time. Then, there is the game that is competitive and very serious. I think each is very important in growing the game and last summer (during the height of the pandemic), golf became a very popular activity, which was great to see. I believe it is my responsibility and others like me to grow the game.”
ALFIERI’S mom, Kim, taught him about the potential career opportunities PGM could help create for him.
He believes the collection of talent coming back at California can help the team compete not just for a Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) title, but also a Division II National Championship.
This spring, Alfieri ranked third on the team with a 77.8 average and posted a team-best score on two separate occasions. He recorded a season-best 71 at Mercyhurst and was also named a PSAC Scholar-Athlete and a Cal U AD Honor Roll selection twice.
“Get one percent better every day,” he said. “If I can find something new each day and find a way to get better, it was a successful day for me. Long term, I think we are going to have a great team here at Cal U (and that) we are going to be highly competitive for many years. We have three freshmen starters and a young core who are going to grow together and I think can help us compete nationally.”