Camaraderie, competition make tourney eventful

Photos by Brittney Lohmiller/The Herald
Brock Matthews of Huntingburg teed off at the Buffalo Trace Golf Course Thursday morning in Jasper to get some practice in before The Herald’s Dubois County Amateur men’s golf tournament takes place this weekend. Matthews and fellow Southridge coach and close friend Ted O’Brien compete in the tournament to rejuvenate some of their competitive juices as well as reconnect with some fellow golfers they played with and against in high school.


The sport of golf has been known to be a primary getaway for relaxation and a journey away from all things resembling ‘work’.

But when Southridge High School coaches and close friends Brock Matthews and Ted O’Brien hit the links together you can expect some serious, yet friendly competition.

“Oh it’s always competitive between us,” Matthews said with a laugh. “We always have a game of some sort that we play within our foursome that we golf with and typically we’re on opposite teams so there’s always banter back and forth. (Ted) tries to downplay how good he is because he doesn’t want to give up any shots and things like that.”

O’Brien added: “We always have some good natured competition and push each other — it’s a good deal.”

Matthews and O’Brien will both be competing in The Herald’s Dubois County Amateur men’s golf tournament this weekend at Sultan’s Run Golf Club in Jasper on Saturday and the Huntingburg Country Club on Sunday. This will be Matthews’ 16th jaunt at the County Am (his best finish was 7th in 2011) while O’Brien will be making his fifth appearance in the tournament since moving to Huntingburg after accepting the Raiders boys basketball head coaching job in 2014.

While Matthews and O’Brien play in a few competitions throughout the summer, the County Am has one major difference from the other tournaments they participate in.

“A lot of us play in two-man tournaments throughout the year where you have a partner with you but this is the one time of the year where you’re on your own,” O’Brien said, referencing the fact that the County Am is a true individual tournament. “It takes you back to your college or high school years — this is kind of the chance for us former athletes to get the competitive juices going a little bit.”

Neither Matthews or O’Brien get to golf too often during the school year as both are busy with their coaching and teaching duties at Southridge High School (Matthews coaches boys golf and teaches math; O’Brien coaches girls track and teaches social studies) but they both look forward to the summer to spend time on courses in and around Dubois County.

Matthews, who graduated from Southridge and was a member of the Raiders boys golf team during his high school years, has played in the County Am since he was a junior in high school. And while he’s had plenty of opportunities to get to work on his game for the past nine years as Southridge’s head boys golf coach, he looks forward to the summer tournament every year for a little flashback of what it was like when he was competing in high school meets during his time as a Raider.

“I think it’s just more of a competitive thing,” said Matthews on why he chose to continue to participate in the County Am after graduating high school. “I’ve been competitive my whole life and after high school you don’t have too many opportunities to do things that are competitive. Coaching allows you do that for the kids but this is one of the few times where I myself will get to play competitively against guys and see how I stack up and I kind of enjoy that.”

Brock Matthews, left, and Ted O’Brien, both of Huntingburg, practiced their putting before playing a round of golf at the Buffalo Trace Golf Course Thursday in preparation for this weekend’s County Am.

After playing golf in high school at Heritage Hills, O’Brien played collegiately for the University of Southern Indiana in Evansville. However, after playing collegiately O’Brien didn’t have many opportunities to play competitively against fellow golfers anymore — that is until he started to participate in the County Am as well as the Evansville City Tournament when he lived there.

“Since I was three or four years old, I’ve always played golf or some other sport up until I was 23 years old. Once I graduated college that stopped, you don’t really get many of those opportunities anymore,” O’Brien said. “I didn’t try to continue my golf career (after college) as an amateur or anything, I was just kind of done. I like being able to get back between the ropes and seeing the different golfers from other clubs in the county — I know there’s a ton of really good young golfers and older golfers that can just flat out play so it’s just really good competition to see where your game is.”

Another reason O’Brien looks forward to playing in the tourney every year is because of the camaraderie the golfers have with one another.

Growing up, O’Brien recalls playing in junior golf tournaments with guys like Derek Bolling (has won the County Am a record 11 times), Nathan Pinkstaff, Matt Boeglin and Matthews and looks forward to talking and playing against those guys at the tournament every summer.

“A lot of guys Brock and I’s age play at Huntingburg Country Club and I got to reconnect a few of those relationships when I moved back which was kind of part of the reason why I looked to come to Southridge,” O’Brien said. “I had friends in the golf community that were still living here and were members at the country club, it was just a positive perk I guess you could say.”

Matthews is anticipating playing with the guys in his pairing this year as both of his group mates were guys he played both with and against during his high school playing days.

“I’m paired with Nathan Pinkstaff and Justin Leibering and I know both of those guys very well,” Matthews said. “Nathan was on my high school team at Southridge and Justin was a year younger than me and he played at Jasper so I played with those guys a lot in high school but as you get older, you don’t get a chance to play with guys all the time so this gives us a chance to pair up with guys we either don’t know or guys we haven’t seen in awhile.”

Both Matthews and O’Brien are hoping they can come away with successful first rounds this weekend so they can play in the championship round of the County Am on July 22 at Buffalo Trace Golf Course.

But what’s most important? Having some fun along the way.

“I’d like to just go out there and shoot a couple of good scores,” Matthews said. “But no matter how it goes, I know it’s going to be a lot of fun and that’s what it’s all about.”

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