Hess finds path as professional golfer

PARKERSBURG – Several years of playing golf at the NCAA Division II level passed before Kenny Hess figured out what path he needed to take to improve his game.

The 2006 graduate from Parkersburg South will be one of 120 golfers competing in the West Virginia Open scheduled for June 17-21 at Parkersburg Country Club in Vienna.

“I played two years at Concord University then I got called away from there,” Hess said. “The date was Jan. 10 and God pulled me toward Florida. After some phone calls, I had a job in Florida for the winter.

“This was my fourth year working down there. Basically, I take care of carts and clubs for the members at a major resort.”

Through the combination of working and golfing at Palm Beach Gardens in Florida and having a membership at Parkersburg Country Club, Hess is playing year-round and learning to refine his game with swing coaches Clyde Connor and Jimmy Damiano.

“Florida golf is 100 percent different than West Virginia golf,” Hess said. “In Florida, there can be wind gusts up to 30 miles per hour. They have strong winds and that definitely forces you to play better golf.”

Growing up in Parkersburg, Hess wanted to pursue an athletic career in baseball and basketball. However, the influence of his father, Bill Hess, turned his son’s attention to golf.

“Golf was what my father did and he was good at it,” Kenny Hess said. “He had that ability to grind not a lot of players had.”

Following his contributions to the Parkersburg South program, Hess attended two years at Concord before he took a long, hard look at where is career was headed.

“I felt stuck – like I was going through the motions,” Hess said. “I did some praying and God told me to stop – that He had a plan for my life. I can’t count how many times He has provided. Getting to live in Florida is a blessing and something I couldn’t do on my own.

“I don’t have a five-year plan. I don’t even know what His plan is, but I do know this is the next step.”

As a professional playing on his home course for the West Virginia Open, Hess is anxiously awaiting the opportunity to contend for a possible title.

“I don’t have to play great golf or perfect golf on my course to post good numbers,” Hess said. “If I can bring my ‘A’ game, and not necessarily my ‘A+’ game I think I can put myself up there with a David Bradshaw or a Christian Brand.”