Fitch grad Matasy hopes to bring golf lessons home

Fitch grad hopes to bring lessons home

By Kevin Connelly

Some people leave northeastern Ohio for Florida and never look back.

Others head south in hopes of creating a better situation for themselves, with every intention of returning home.

Matt Matasy falls under the latter.

After graduating from Austintown Fitch High School in 2013, Matasy wasn’t sure what the next step for him entailed, but he knew it had to include golf.

“I love golf,” said Matasy, who was a four-year varsity member of the Fitch golf team. “I knew I didn’t want to be stuck at a four-year college and I knew I didn’t want to leave golf.”

Much to his surprise, there was a way he didn’t have to do either. In the fall he enrolled in the Golf Academy of America in Orlando, Fla. It’s a two-year golf college that offers a curriculum consisting of golf instruction and golf business management.

In other words, your homework is to play golf.

“It’s great,” said Matasy. “The golf industry is so wide and the whole point of the school is to learn everything about it.

“They push connecting and networking and there’s just so many great opportunities to do that down here.”

After enrolling in September, Matasy is on track to graduate this December in what he called “basically two years bunched into 16 months.”

Part of the curriculum is to get involved in a work-study program, which was how Matasy came across The Little Linksters — a program designed to introduce the game of golf to kids ages 3-8. It’s not exactly the easiest demographic to teach anything, let alone a game that’s difficult for adults.

“It started slow and it was kind of hard to get used to the kids,” Matasy admitted. “They have such a simple mind frame and to teach them anything is a challenge.

“But once you realize they see things so simple and something as basic as getting the ball off the ground gets them so excited, that’s what puts a smile on my face.”

Perhaps Matasy’s affection for teaching kids the game comes from his own experiences — or missed opportunities. His parents got him started at a young age, just hitting balls in the yard, he said. However it took until the eighth grade for him to get serious about golf.

“I’ll be giving a kid a lesson and their parents will come to pick them up and they have to literally drag them off the course,” Matasy said. “It breaks my heart when parents have to do that, but at the same time that’s what makes it so great and satisfying.”

Matasy is just 19 and is one of the younger students in his classes. He’s realized The Golf Academy of America often serves as a second career for people who weren’t happy with their original plans.

“I didn’t want that,” he said. “I’d rather do it right the first time.”

Less than a year in and Matasy couldn’t be happier with his decision. While he’s enjoying the sunshine and year-round golf weather, Matasy’s always planned on returning home. He graduates at the end of the year and is looking into starting his own program for teaching kids in the Youngstown area to play golf.

That’s more of a long-term plan, admits Matasy, but now he has the knowledge to achieve it.

“This whole experience has gone way too fast,” Matasy said. “It’s hard to sit back and reflect while it’s still going, but it’s just been an amazing experience.”

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