Hess caps career at ODU
It was Easter weekend when Chad Hess had his greatest golfing moment to date. The Old Dominion University senior stepped up to the tee on the 14th hole, a par three with the pin 196 yards away.
The venue was the Brook Valley Country Club in Greenville, N.C. The Monarchs were there to play in the East Carolina Intercollegiate Tournament. Monarch donors and alumni were around the club, kicking back, recalling the old days and checking out the new kids on the block. The pressure was on, but Hess is clutch. Pressure is one thing, golf is another.
“You have to focus,” he says. “You have to have the same mindset every time you approach the ball.”
The 14th hole that Easter weekend was another chance to focus. Another chance to set his feet, check his hands, align his shoulders. Another opportunity to start the motion that leads to a compact, comfortable swing. Maybe even a perfect swing. One that finds the club head smashing that little white ball as if it was a marshmallow.
Even though he just earned his undergraduate degree from Old Dominion, he’s played golf for years after his father, Chuck, introduced him to the game. It’s been a love affair between Hess and the sport since.
“I always wanted to play golf,” said the 2014 Parkland High School gradaute.
He credits Paul Viola, the head pro at Bethlehem Golf Club during Hess’ time at Parkland High School, with astute coaching that improved his game.
“Confidence is something you acquire over time,” Hess said. He’s a confident man, but not in the way confidence is sometimes portrayed. Where some are brash and even standoffish, Hess is contemplative and pleasant.
On the course, length is Hess’ forte as a golfer. On that 14th hole that Easter weekend his club caught the ball perfectly. It took off like a homing pigeon seeking to find its home nearly 200 yards away.
The ball hit the ground, bounced and rolled toward the pin and fell into the cup.
Hole in one.
“It’s a tough game to play in general,” Hess says. Golf isn’t meant to be easy. Even someone as adroit as Hess acknowledge periodic struggles with “mental” aspects of a game that can put a golfer in competition with themselves.
He cites things such as “hand and eye coordination” as being essential for success. Like anyone who develops a skill, he practices when no one is watching, so when donors and alumni are watching it’s worth it. Hess treats the game with respect and knows it requires an investment of dedication.
Hess was the male inaugural recipient of the John R. Broderick Award as Old Dominion’s best all-around athlete for the 2017-2018 school year. His scoring average of 74 strokes per round was second-best among all regulars. Hess was also the top-placing Monarch in four of the nine tournaments played. Now graduated, he was also a dedicated student, earning an outstanding GPA in elementary education. Hess wants to be an educator soon, but graduate school is next, although a summer on the links and playing in tournaments such as the Lehigh Valley Open looms in between.