Former Berkshire League golf star Alex DiClemente finds a home at Lehigh....Story by John Torsiello.
Former Lewis Mills golf star, Alex DiClemente has found a home in college at Lehigh. John Torsiello tells his story.
Lewis Mills High School grad Alex DiClemente remembers the exact moment when he found he was pretty darn good at this game they call golf.
“I was 10 years old on vacation in Florida with my family. One day I went to the driving range with my dad. At the range I was hitting my dad’s cut down pitching wedge, which I would hit 100 yards. When my dad and I went into the pro shop to hand the bucket in everyone from the range was waiting and clapping at my performance.”
DiClemente has heard a lot of applause since that day in Florida. The Lehigh University junior has enjoyed immense success, first as a junior player and now at the Division I collegiate level.
While in high school he won the Connecticut Junior Amateur Championship, the 2010 CIAC Division III title, the 2009 Pepsi Junior Connecticut PGA championship, and captured the FCWT New England Open Championship. He was a FCWT All-American, was named to the All-Berkshire League team all four years, received All-State recognition three times, and All-New England twice. It wasn’t just in golf that he excelled in high school. He was a member of the National Honor Society and was named Outstanding High School Accounting Student by the Connecticut Society of Certified Professional Accountants.
He made an immediate impact at Lehigh, located in Bethlehem, Pa.
As a freshman, he tied for 23rd with 229 (80, 74, 75) at the spring opening tournament in Florida, finished in a tie for sixth place at the Lafayette Invitational at 147 (75, 72), shot 239 (82, 80, 77) to tie for 35th place at the Patriot League Championship, tied for 20th with a 222 (73, 76, 73) at the Rutgers Invitational, and finished in a tie for 45th at 232 (76, 77, 79) in the Bucknell Fall Invitational. He also finished at 237 (80, 82, 75) to tie for 61st at the Richmond Intercollegiate, and was named to the Patriot League Academic Honor Roll.
Last year, he was one of two Mountain Hawks to play in all nine tournaments, and posted a best 54-hole score of season with 223 at the season-opening Bucknell Invitational, good for 33rd place. He led Lehigh with a 46th place finish at the Hartford Invitational at 230 (80, 77, 73), tied for 31st at 154 (77, 77) in the Seton Hall Invitational, and tied for 20th with a 154 (75, 79) at the Lehigh Invitational. He also tied for best finish among five scoring players at the Lafayette Invitational, shooting 153 (77, 76) and tying for 12th. He shot the low round for the Mountain Hawks at the Navy Invitational, an opening round 73, and tied for 14th at the Patriot League Championships at 226 (73, 79, 74). He had stroke average of 77 for 20 rounds.
DiClemente says his biggest moment at Lehigh came three weeks ago when he helped his team win its first tournament in four years at the Bucknell Invitational. He shot rounds of 81, 79 and 75 to finish 27th individually. Last week he returned to Litchfield County where he finished 48th at the Hartford Hawks Invitational at Kent’s Bulls Bridge Golf Club.
“College golf is substantially harder than I expected. I didn't realize how much of a time commitment college golf would be and then the time it takes to keep up with the academics. I also am part of a leadership academy at Lehigh, which takes even more time away from my schedule.”
Despite carrying an impressive resume to Lehigh, he believes he has improved considerably as a player since joining the Mountain Hawks’ program.
“I have become a better all-around player, my short game has improved substantially. My course management and mental toughness have improved drastically, allowing me to play consistent golf even when I am not striking the ball well.”
He’s pleased with his choice to attend Lehigh.
“I love it here. You can't beat a top 50 ranked academic school that also offers golf facilities like the Mulvihill Golf Learning Center and Saucon Valley Country Club. I have also developed a whole new network of friends here, which is helping me receive an internship for this upcoming summer.” He is majoring in accounting and holds a sterling 3.4
DiClemente began to play golf at the age of five years when his father taught him the fundamentals of the game. His first tournament was at 10 years old when he shot a 54 from the forward tees. He also played soccer, baseball, and basketball as a youngster but strayed away from those sports to focus on golf.
“My biggest assets as a golfer are my distance and ball striking abilities. In junior golf, everyone would complement me on how consistent and far I hit the golf ball. The short game and mental aspect of my game need work. I have always struggled around the greens, especially during the college golf season because I can't devote as much time to golf as I would like because of school work. I also need to work on not letting my emotions get to me. Sometimes on the golf course I will get upset after a bad hole and let it affect me for the holes to come. My coach and I at Lehigh have really worked on the mental aspect of my game and it has surprisingly let me play more consistently.”
During the summer he normally practices every day between three to five hours. Two thirds of that practice time is allocated to the short game while the rest to ball striking.
“I also would run everyday somewhere between three to five miles. At Lehigh University, I tone down my practice regimen to two hours a day because of work. During the off-season our golf team works with two personal trainers twice a week.”
DiClemente would love to play golf professionally but he believes it simply would be “too hard.” He adds, “I’d rather graduate with my degree and get into the real world.”
But he’ll never give up the game.
“What I love most about golf is its uniqueness, there are no sports like golf that can be contested at millions of different venues. Another great aspect of golf is that it is you versus the golf course.”