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 golfing for the California University of Pennsylvania (CalU) Vulancs 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 did not get super serious about golf until middle school because I played a collection of sports growing up,” said Alfieri. “I have an appreciation for all sports, but for me, golf became my main sport in high school.”
For Alfieri, golf is not just a game, but rather something he credits for teaching him a great amount of life lessons and also an industry he hopes to work in long term.
“I love the morals golf teaches you,” said the former Hubbers standout. “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 slate of accolades that likely will not be matched for quite some time at Smethport.
Not including the non-scholastic tournaments and events he played in, Alfieri was named his team’s most valuable player, a league all-star, and league MVP four times. He earned league medalist honors three times, 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, qualified for the PIAA Championships as a senior and was the recipient of the John Forrest Most Outstanding Golfer Award.
He hasn’t slacked as of late either, as he won the first flight (the second-highest classification to only the championship flight) at Bartlett Country Club this past weekend.
“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 obscure 2020-21 season, the Vulcans did not compete in the fall, but the program was 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. He plans to use all four years 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 CalU 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 industry presents post-graduate careers such as club professionals, club managers, sales representatives, customer relations and various other opportunities.
Alfieri’s ultimate goal is to become a head golf pro for a club while hoping to continue his golfing career for many years to come.
John Rook, current club golf 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 about what it takes to be a golf professional, an opportunity he has enjoyed and learned a lot from over the last two months.
“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 father got him involved in the game and helped shape his outlook, but with help from his mom, Kim, he first learned about the potential career opportunities that PGM could help create for him.
As for his goals at CalU, Alfieri believes the collection of talent coming back 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 was 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 CalU. We have a lot of talented players and I think we are going to be highly competitive for many years. We have three freshman starters and a young core who are going to grow together and I think can help us compete nationally.”