Posted on: October 8, 2021 Posted by: Glacier Staff Comments: 0

Michael Smeraldo (third from left) is one of four Moraine golfers who made All-Conference, along with Jack McDonald (from left), Randy Miller and Tommy Schaaf. (mvcyclones.com)


By Colin Kroll, JRN 111 Student

Michael Smeraldo made what sounds impossible possible.

Nothing about his story would suggest he could have become one of the top 10 golfers in the Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference this year.

Smeraldo started playing golf for fun last July, and after he picked up the clubs, he couldn’t put them down. He started playing just to have some fun with his friends and his dad, to go out to pass time. But he quickly realized he wasn’t that bad—especially since he had not played since fifth grade and had never played competitively.

He went to courses and the driving range a few times over the summer, but with the pandemic and the cold weather setting in, Smeraldo had to figure out how to get better on his own.

This wasn’t going to stop Smeraldo from practicing. He bought a pad and a net and turned his garage into a makeshift driving range. Every day for months during the pandemic, Smeraldo would go out to his garage for hours at a time and work on using each club.

After practicing for about a full year the Moraine Valley golf season was approaching and Smeraldo was able to get a try out and he made the team.

Smeraldo says the reason he puts in so much practice is that he just loves the sport itself. “I just think it’s crazy how a ball that small can be hit 300 to 400 yards long and go directly in the spot that you want it to go, and I work so hard so that I am able to make those shots consistently.”

Smeraldo admires the work and precision it takes to be good at golf. He says he wants to emulate his favorite professional golfer, Jordan Spieth “because of the interactions he has with his caddy and because he looks like he never takes any of his shots for granted.”

This is important to Smeraldo because he focuses a lot on keeping a level head on the course and never lets one shot or hole define his entire tournament

Photo by mvcyclones.com

Since he only began playing the sport competitively for the first time in college, Smeraldo says he feels at a disadvantage in terms of “the mental focus and keeping a clear head.”

“Some of these kids have hit hundreds of bad shots in competition, so it’s easier for them to deal with it but for me this is all new, so it was hard trying to balance my emotions,” he said.

That mental focus was put to the test this past weekend as the Moraine Valley golf team competed in the Region District Championship in Byron. After a hard-fought weekend, Moraine took 9th place in the tournament. During the three days, Smeraldo shot an 86, 90, and 92.

In just his first year of competitive golf, Smeraldo is an All-Conference player for Moraine Valley along with three teammates, Randy Miller, Tommy Schaaf, and Jack McDonald. As the season comes to an end, the top four players’ average scores are Miller 79, Smeraldo 82, Schaaf 92, and McDonald 91.

Looking ahead, Smeraldo plans to transfer to a four-year university to further his college golf career. He plans to keep working on mechanics and club work, but he also wants to keep working on his emotions and focus. He says 50 percent of the game is skill and mechanics and the other 50 percent is focus and not letting himself get too high or low on his emotions.

Even though Smeraldo knows he has extra work to do to catch up to people who have been playing their whole lives, he does not back down from competition and is ready to work harder than anybody else.

His teammate Randy Miller sums up Smeraldo’s drive: “Mike always has a smile on his face. He shows up to golf every day ready to work hard but also makes it fun.”