Moe Takes 3rd USHO Title at Miami Valley

From left: Dave Brown, President of the Society of Hickory Golfers; 2015 USHO Champion Jeremy Moe; 2015 USHO Low Amateur and 2nd Place finisher Cliff Martin; 2015 USHO 3rd Place finisher Grayson Giboney; and 2015 USHO Chairman Ed Ronco.   Photo by Brian Giboney.

(Note: Overall scores are posted below.)

Heat and humidity could not affect the cool swing of Jeremy Moe, who won his third consecutive U.S. Hickory Open title yesterday at the Miami Valley Golf Club of Dayton, Ohio.

Moe, the golf professional at Hardscrabble Country Club in Fort Smith, Ark., posted a 143 which was seven clear of his closest competitor, Cliff Martin of Los Angeles, Calif.

Tony Smarrelli of Pinehurst, N.C., was the Senior champion with 147. Michael Shiff of Parkland, Fla., took the Super Senior title with 152. Francine Smarrelli, of Pinehurst, N.C., was the Ladies champion. Sally Shiff of Parkland, Fla., took the Ladies net title.

The low amateur score was posted by Cliff Martin, who was given a lovely trophy and award co-sponsored by Tad Moore and Dave Brown.

Softened by hard rains, the generous fairways of the Miami Valley golf course offered no additional yards off the tee, as balls tended to stop where they fell. There was no roll. Conditions favored the player who was master of his brassy, spoon, or long iron for approaches.

Warm and muggy conditions on Monday that led to generally higher scores among the higher handicappers, seemed only to loosen the already refined swings of the scratch players who had only praise for the course and its greenkeeping crew, led by Jim Hesselbrock, golf course superintendent.

The greens, those lovely greens, were the subject of some talk. Not of controversy, not of condemnation, but of admiration and not a little puzzlement. When all was said and done, it was the golfer who wielded his putter with confidence and control that came through the test of Donald Ross’s subtle contouring. Many were the putts that, if not struck true, with the right speed, turned only inches from the hole, some to finish yards away. Thus, it was the steady hand on the second putt – of the dreaded two-foot range, or worse – that kept bogie, or worse, from the card.

Moe’s 143 was just two strokes higher than his 2013 victory at the Bay Course in Seaview, N.J. He won in 2014 with a 137 at the Country Club of Asheville. At Miami Valley, the Hardscrabble pro was accompanied by his son, Eli, 12, their first shared hickory golf outing. “I’m very grateful for the quality time we had together,” Moe said.

On looking back at the round, Moe said, “I can’t say that I ever felt like I had the tournament in the bag. This is hickory golf and there’s so much you can’t control.”

While he felt he could keep up with the competitors in his group, there is much you don’t know about the rest of the field, he said. “There were several very good golfers in the hunt. I know how good Cliff Martin is and that he has made a lot of progress with his game. I kept my focus on the shot at hand and tried to maintain a positive attitude.”

After a four-putt on No. 7, Moe said, “It would have been easy to panic, but I felt like I was swinging well and could make birdies to right the ship.”

He did so handily, missing only two of the remaining greens and making several two-putt pars to “steady the nerves,” as he put it.

“Despite 35 putts in the final round I was able to finish only 2 over. Given how difficult the greens and pin locations were in the final round, I felt like a 1 over total for the tournament would be good enough to win.”

As for playing the final round with 14-year-old Grayson Giboney, Moe said, “It was a real treat to play again with Grayson. We met earlier this year at the World Match Play. He is a terrific young man and a fine player. He had a few mistakes early in the round but never got down on himself and when I stumbled, you could see his energy increase and he hit some great shots trying to put more pressure on me. The young man has grit and a strong heart and his tenacity will serve him well going forward.

“I hit a great shot on 16 to set up a birdie and Grayson made a great two-putt from long to save bogey. Despite the two shot swing, he stepped up on 17 and drilled a long iron right at the flag! When that shot game up short, you could see his disappointment, but like he had done all day, he chipped the ball close and made his par.”

The golf staff, led by PGA Professional Larry Herrmann, were a genuine pleasure, eager to help the visiting hickory golfer find his way, whether it be to the 10th tee or to his waiting golf cart. Their management of this 84-player event, particularly that of score management, kept things wonderfully smooth and free from error.

Miami Valley’s president, Neil Hazel, lauded the players for their demeanor, their dress, and their common love of golf history as evidenced in both their play with hickory clubs and their fondness for such courses as Miami Valley. On behalf of his club, Mr. Hazel extended an invitation to the SoHG to return to the club in 2019, the year of its centennial, for another USHO, as well as a celebration of that anniversary.

The raffle held by the SoHG netted $3,300 for the Society. With gratitude, USHO Committee Chair Ed Ronco thanked the many raffle donors – Will Jacoby, Tad Moore, Mike Just, Kevin Coombs, Will Jacoby, Skip and Bob Platt, Dave Brown, Tim Flynn, and the Wyandotte Hickory Organization.

An extra treat for the players at registration were lovely prints of the Old Course at St Andrews, donated by Rick Whitfield, the PGA Professional at the Loblolly Golf Club, Hobe Sound, Fla.

“I wish to say thank you for your participation in the 2015 US Hickory Open,” said Ed Ronco, 2015 USHO chair. “I hope the overall experience was as enjoyable for you as it was for me.”

In closing, the staff and members of the Miami Valley Golf Club cannot be thanked enough for their generosity, hospitality, and genuine warmth. All felt very welcomed and I am sure each player is keeping an eye on 2019 in hopes of a return to this wonderful course.

Here are the medalists and the course ratings:
(Remember, the practice round scores do not count as tournament rounds.)
Click here for a PDF of the USHO scoreboard and the final scores. 

Championship Series point totals will be posted shortly.
Photos will be added as available. Also check the SoHG Facebook page for postings there.

Miami Valley Course Ratings for the 2015 USHO
Championship        69.8 /  123
Senior                   67.5 / 115
Super Senior         65.8 / 113
Ladies                   70.1 / 120

2015 USHO medalists
Ladies –
   Francine Smarrelli   Gross Champion
   Sally Shiff        Net Champion

Super Senior
   Gross
   Mike Shiff        152    
   Rusty Wells        162
   Chuck McCollom    165

   Net
   Bill Reed               134
   Wayne Aaron        137
   Charles Mulligan    138

Senior
   Gross
   Tony Smarrelli       147
   Dave Brown        157
   Bill Wardwell        160

   Net
   Robert Ubbing        140
   Terry Pemberton    141*
   Bob Georgiade    141

Championship
   Gross
   Jeremy Moe        143
   Cliff Martin        150
   Grayson Giboney    152

   Net
   Devin Harmala        138
   Andy Just            139
   Bill Geisler            141

* scorecard play-off