Growing through golf

Senior’s sport nurtures her relationship with her father


Lauren Lowry

Jody Matthews watches his daughter, Hannah Matthews, golf on Aug. 31 at Southern Dunes Golf Course. Matthews shot a 44 and was the medalist for the match.

As she stepped onto the familiar vibrant green of the golf course, senior Hannah Matthews felt at home. Since she was three, Matthews has been golfing with her father, Jody Matthews, who says the two have a secret language on the course that only strengthens with each hole they play. They share a deep love for golf that has developed over the years.
It has been 14 years since Matthews started playing. Now 17 years old, her appreciation and dedication for the sport have only grown. Matthews has learned many things from playing golf, and she credits the majority to her father because he is the one who helped her turn it into a passion, not just a task to complete.
“He told me, ‘Just have fun,’ and ‘Always make sure that it doesn’t feel like a chore,’” Matthews said.

He told me, ‘Just have fun,’ and ‘Always make sure it doesn’t feel like a chore.’

— Senior Hannah Matthews

Jody is her number one fan and makes a great effort to support her in any way he can. Since she started playing competitively in sixth grade, he has only missed five holes. Having him there to support her every game is one of the reasons that girls golf head coach, Chris Quinn, believes she is so successful.
“I know her dad is really involved in her golf career, and that’s why she’s very dedicated to the sport,” Quinn said.
Why does her father make sure to be so involved? According to Jody, it is because watching his daughter play golf is his favorite thing to do. Jody wants to accentuate the importance of the activities his daughter does, and he believes that attending every one of her matches is one of the best ways to accomplish that.

Jody is an elementary school principal, which can be a very demanding job. This can make it very difficult to be active in the lives of others. He makes a point to show Matthews how important it is to balance work and family, and he makes sure to show that to his teachers as well.
“I’m a principal here at Homecroft Elementary, and the people that work here know that family comes first, no matter what,” Jody said. “I live that by example.”
The night before the Sectional match last year, Matthews asked her father to go to The Legends Golf Club, where Sectionals would be held, to practice for the next day. Her father always made sure to emphasize the importance of hard work and says that it was one of his proudest moments with her.
Jody believes that golf is a game of honor. There are no referees, so the players are trusted to tell the truth about how many swings they have taken. This lesson of honesty is one of the main reasons that he wanted his daughter to play golf.
“I also wanted to teach her that, no matter what, we are people of honor and integrity,” Jody said.
Matthews’s years of hard work have paid off greatly for her. Last year at Conference she shot an 80, which is a good score, and she also made it to Regionals as an individual. To add to her accolades, she was recently named one of IndyStar’s “Indiana high school girls golfers to watch this season.”
Though golf may be the most frequent activity the two do together, it certainly isn’t the only one. Ever since she was two years old, her father made it a ritual to get ice cream together every Monday. Their family also enjoys baseball, so they take a few trips every summer to watch the Chicago Cubs play, and they also make sure to watch every episode of “Big Brother” together.
“I’m not allowed to watch an episode if she’s not home, so we’ll record it and watch that together,” Jody said. “At the end of the day, it’s just spending time with her, that’s my favorite thing to do.”
All of those in Matthews’ circle believe she will make big strides in the future. She plans to attend college and continue to play golf, whether it be at a collegiate level or recreationally. She also believes that this tradition is one she will pass on to her future children.
“I really would love (to teach my children), because then they can learn the same lessons I’ve learned,” Matthews said. “Hopefully it can be a fun experience for them.”
No matter where her future in golf takes her, Matthews knows her father will always be there to support her. He has been there since day one, and will continue to be cheering her on throughout her endeavors.
“If this senior year is the end of her competition, I hope that she and I will be able to enter some father-daughter tournaments in the future, so we can still compete together,” Jody said.