June 28, 2018
By: Tom Meikrantz
The Lehigh Valley Amateur staged in late September at Green Pond Country Club may be the premier amateur golf tournament in our area but the Lehigh Valley Medal Play Championship certainly has an impressive history since it’s inception in 1991. This year’s event played June 22nd and 23rd had an exciting finish and the winner Chad Hess has been one of the class acts on the local scene. Hess and Steve Kluemper were tied at 3-over after 36 holes of regulation Saturday. The 22 year old Hess birdied the 3rd playoff hole at Woodstone Country Club to decide the issue.
Both golfers are products of Karl Gilbert”s junior golf program and were standouts at their respective high schools, Kluemper a 2011 Freedom grad and Hess a 2014 Parkland graduate. Hess recently concluded his collegiate golf at Old Dominion in Conference USA on a high note with his best scoring average (74) and tied for 2nd in hi school’s tournament. He was named the 2018 Broderick Award winner as the school’s best all-around male athlete. Kluemper recently advanced to the sectional qualifying stage for the U.S Open. Cole Miller, who played in that major, won four straight medal play championships. His 10-under 134 score in 2016 is far and away the tournament record.
There’s only been four medal play championships won in red numbers. Even though this recent one wasn’t close to Miller’s record number, it was enjoyable to watch Kluemper and Hess battle it out down the stretch with grace and good sportsmanship. Hess isn’t planning on going pro like Miller who now plays on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada but says this win which even surprised him has further convinced him that he can compete for titles on the amateur level. The way he carried himself on the course and his gracious post-tournament comments about Kluemper reminded me of how well he represents the game of golf ever since covering him during his playing days at Parkland.