GREENVILLE — Greenville’s Trey Smith was introduced to golf when he was barely five years old and grew up around golf courses, but ironically, baseball was his original sport of choice.

It wasn’t until he turned 12 that Smith decided to make golf a priority and take his game to the next level. Since then, he’s developed into one of the top golfers in his age group in the state.

Smith joined the Greenville varsity team when he was just a seventh grader and was an instant contributor to the Spartans program, qualifying for sectional play for six straight years. He won the Patroon Medalist Tournament four times and recently capped off his senior season by being named the league MVP for the fifth consecutive year after leading the Spartans to the team championship.

Smith has competed in nine NENY Junior PGA Tournaments, finishing first three times and winning 2021 Player of the Year honors in the 16-18 year-old division. In all, he has nine top five finishes to his credit in NENY Tournament play.

Even with all of his success, a competitive streak and strong work ethic drive Smith to be even better.

“The competitiveness in me makes me want to work super hard,” Smith said. “I hate losing so I’m going to work as hard as I can to be successful and hopefully come out on top of the leaderboard.”

Of all the personal goals he’s achieved, one he reached with his teammates stands out above the rest for Smith.

“I’ve had a lot of opportunities to play in big tournaments in the past few years, but being able to win the Patroon Conference as a team was one of my favorite moments and something I will never forget.”

Greenville golf coach Rob Gray has known Smith and his family for more than 10 years and could see Trey was special at a very early age.

“It really comes down to how hard Trey has worked on his game over the years I’ve known him,” Gray said. “I have told this story a number of times, but I can remember when I first took over the golf team and having the team start practice one of the first days and seeing this little 6-7 year-old chipping and putting on the practice green. The team went out and played a practice round and when we came back, this little kid was still there.

“This happened day after day for pretty much the first month of practice. This was my first interaction with Trey and from those first few meetings, I had a feeling he was going to be a special player. He had a work ethic at such a young age and it was apparent that he loved the game and had no problem keeping himself entertained by just chipping and putting. Anyone who is familiar with golf also knows that someone who is very proficient in chipping and putting generally turns out to be a very good golfer.

“As fate would have it, our families crossed paths a number of times through sibling activities as Trey was getting older so I was always able to keep tabs on his progression. As our paths crossed I would always make a point to ask him or Trey’s parents how he was doing. I think by just showing interest in how he was doing at such a young age, this fueled his desire for him to be the best he could be and prepared him for high school golf.”

Because of his high golf IQ, Gray said Smith was like having a second coach on the team.

“Trey came onto the team as a seventh grader and every year since, he has pretty much been my assistant coach and extra set of eyes,” Gray said. “It has also been from that time that I quickly learned that my role was not going to be a helper in his swing but more of a sounding board, providing feedback about the day’s round of golf.

“In talking, we would go over almost shot by shot his entire round and discuss what he could have done to improve on his course management, club choice, etc to take strokes off the next time out. This time spent just talking about golf is really what built our relationship, not only as an athlete-coach, but teacher-student, and more importantly an adult who would listen to anything that he was going through. Throughout this whole time,

“Trey has just continued to grow as a golfer, and more importantly, a young adult. He deserves all of the success that has come his way on the golf course and in life because of the hard work he has put into it. I can’t wait to see what comes next for him.”

Along with an abundance of natural talent, Gray said what has made Smith so successful is his willingness to work and love of the game.

“He has no problem playing in the rain or heat, whether it be driving, chipping, putting, etc,” Gray said. “He just has an internal drive that loves the work of trying to master a game that can’t be mastered. I think he loves the fact that everyday is different, every course is different and you never know what each day will bring.

“He has gotten very good at managing a round even when he doesn’t have his best stuff and even then he enjoys it. He just loves to analyze, dissect and think about what he can do to be a better player.

“Five MVPs is an incredible accomplishment. He is just a polished golfer who has gotten better each year with the work he has put into it. It’s been one heck of a run. I have just tried to stay out of the way and provide him the opportunities to be successful.”

Gray says as good as Smith is on the links, he’s just as special off of them.

“What makes it so special for me is that through the years, I have gotten to know Trey off of the golf course as well,” Gray said. “Our families are friends, so I have been able to see him in other settings. In each one of these settings his maturity, kindness and drive are on display. As many will attest to, he is just a solid all-around individual.

“Growing up around the game of golf, he has been around so many different types of people from such a young age. These interactions have allowed him to navigate social settings with ease. Even at a young age, he was mature beyond his years. I’m quite confident I will not have a relationship with another athlete like I have with Trey.”

Trey was first introduced to golf by his Dad Kevin Smith, who is the Director of Golf at Thunderhart Golf Course at Sunny Hill.

“My favorite story about him was when he was coming off the course after his eighth grade year shooting an 94 at sectionals (he had shot 102 during his seventh grade season) and declared that he “wanted to go south and play college golf,” Kevin Smith said. “I paused and carefully expressed to him that he had “a lot of work to do. He was crestfallen. I wasn’t trying to discourage him I was simply trying to have him realize the level of golfer that’s out there.

“Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that he would have dedicated himself the way he has. He practices in rain, cold, extreme heat, early in the morning and late into the evening. He’s a student of the game. Learning about spin rates and club head speed. He understands the importance of all the aspects of the game of golf. He is so honorable and honest. Two main characteristics that the game of golf is based upon.”

Opposing Patroon Conference coaches also marvel at Smith’s abilities.

“Trey is mentally tough,” Catskill coach Brian Smith said. “He has an ability to scramble when he hits bad shots, hold back nerves when he falls behind in a match, and more importantly seizes the moment when given the opportunity.

“He is a natural born leader too. He helps his playing partners in matches and more gives them the confidence whenever needed. Leadership and mental toughness are his biggest assets.”

“I’ve known Trey since well before his high school golfing years and it’s been a true pleasure watching him grow not only into an incredible young player, but also into someone who understands and values the game, said Peter Maassmann, who coached against Smith at Cairo-Durham and is the golf pro at Blackhead Mountain Lodge and Country Club.

“I think his dedication and understanding of what’s important are two of the main reasons for his success. He plays multiple sports in school, but he never seems to put the golf clubs away for any length of time. The simulator set up in his garage gets daily use in the winter months, and I believe that is a big part of why he has excelled the past few years. The dedication to use it on a regular basis shows how much he loves the game.

“He also understands how to “score” (which is rare for young players). He has spent a ton of time over the years on and around the practice green at the course and this has helped to develop Trey into a great short game player.

“Have to give some credit to his father Kevin as well. Trey was never “pushed” to play golf. His dad did an amazing job of helping the game stay “fun” for him and allowing Trey to grow at his own pace with no pressure on him. Trey was always invited to play with the “old” guys and I’m sure a lot of his respect for the game came because of those experiences.”

After careful consideration, Smith has decided where he’ll be taking his talents next Fall.

“I will be going down to Fayetteville, North Carolina at Methodist to study Business Administration with a concentration in Professional Golf Management,” Smith said. “The PGM (professional golf management) program is what really drew me to the school. Playing college golf has been my goal since I was young, and then hopefully, one day, I can run a golf course just like my dad.”

Methodist, which competes at the Division III level, has a rich history in golf, having won multiple national championships. The Monarchs are currently ranked in the top five in the nation after spending time at No. 1 earlier this season.

“I am very excited for Trey in choosing Methodist University,” Gray said. “I am not that familiar with the school itself, but from what we have discussed, it has everything he is looking for. It certainly has a very good golf team (past national champions, No. 1 in the country, etc), but it also has the program that he is looking to study.

“He would like to continue his education in a program that places him within the golf industry and Methodist checks all the boxes. As much success as he has had up to this point, he also realizes that nothing will be handed to him at the next level. With this realization and the hard work he puts into his golf game and his studies, I cannot wait to see where his years in college take him.

“I will be following him and keeping in touch with him not only in college but for years to come. I will always be here as a resource or someone he can talk to going forward. I can’t wait to see what the next four years lead to and I wish him the best!”

Brian Smith is also excited to see what the future holds for Trey.

“Trey had made a name for himself on the NENY circuit and in Section II,” he said. “He played against not just high level players in the area, but challenged himself in matches outside the area against those that play year round. He is very practical and wants to play at an institution that has the degree he wants all while playing the game he loves. I feel he has a great foundation around him — a positive father and mother, and he did his research regarding schools of interest.

“Trey isn’t about the accolades, but more about the challenge. This was evident throughout his playing career at Greenville and outside ventures in the NENY. This mindset will only translate to the choices he makes in life. He be will successful because he will continue to challenge himself with his career or anything else he wants.”

“He is a true gentleman and he reminds me a lot of the people that I was around during my early years as a golf professional,” Maassmann said. “I’m excited for him and his next step heading to Methodist University. I believe that he has not only the talent, but more importantly the desire and dedication to be successful there. I am honored to have been a small part of his start in the golf world.”

Trey said there are a number of people to thank for helping him along the way.

“My parents have been very influential and have helped so so much throughout my golf career. I’d like to thank my High School Golf Coach, Rob Gray, who has given me the opportunity to play for the school since I was in seventh grade. I’d also like to thank all the people at Thunderhart golf course who have supported me throughout my golf career.”

Trey will be competing in the Hurricane Junior Golf Tournament of Champions at Disney’s Palm Course in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. on Dec. 4-5.

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