As told to Maggie FitzRoy
Photo by Maggie FitzRoy
A senior at Nease High School, Isabel Matos, 17, is a champion golfer and a longtime member of First Tee of North Florida, a youth educational nonprofit that uses golf as a vehicle to teach character education. Captain of her school’s Girls Golf Team, she recently played in the PURE Insurance Championship Impacting The First Tee in Pebble Beach, California, and was paired with Hall of Famer, Vijay Singh.
Q: When did you join First Tee?
A: I joined when I was eight years old. I found out about it through my local golf course, Julington Creek Golf Club.
Q: How old were you when you first started playing golf?
A: I started when I was five years old. It was mainly to spend more time with my dad—Daddy/Daughter dates. Over time I got more serious and started getting private lessons. For my dad, it was recreational. After a couple of years, I started to beat him.
Q: What did you like about golf?
A: My dad noticed I had a natural talent for it. It’s a lifelong sport, too. I can continue making connections with people through the game.
Q: When did you start playing competitively?
A: I started with First Tee when I was eight to ten years old, then joined the Fruit Cove Middle School team, then the high school team. I also started playing more individualized tournaments, such as the North Florida Junior Tour and the Florida Junior Tour. Currently there are eight girls on the team at Nease, and of those, five play on the Tournament Team. I’ve been on the team all four years and also captain my junior and senior years.
Q: At the PURE Insurance Championship, what was it like playing with Vijay Singh?
A: It was amazing. He was kind of quiet at first, but after a few holes he was helping me with my swing and with my putts. He was definitely helpful throughout the entire tournament.
Q: You are a senior, so what are your plans for college?
A: I’m still deciding on whether I want to play golf in college. If not, I want to go to a bigger university and major in communications.
Q: Why are you interested in majoring in communications?
A: Because of First Tee. I speak a lot for First Tee and they helped me realize communication is what I want to do in the future. Broadcast journalism, most likely, with golf.
Q: Have you lived in St. Johns County your entire life?
A: I was born in Annapolis, Maryland and moved to the First Coast at age 2.
Q: How has First Tee impacted your life?
A: It has been really amazing. My life would be completely different without First Tee.