Troy Matteson chose Georgia Tech because of an ideal combination of academics and golf. He was interested in engineering and competing in golf at a high level. Matteson won the 2002 NCAA Championship and graduated with honors with a degree in civil engineering. He says the decision to play at Tech helped put him on the path toward becoming a successful professional golfer. He has two PGA Tour victories. Matteson recalled why college played such an important part in his life.
When you go to college you have to learn to survive. You have to learn how to function in a big group and work your way to the top. When you get a degree, you feel like you’ve made it through the gauntlet and survived. College is where you learn to work hard.
One of things you learn is time management. You learn things you didn’t have to learn as a kid, when your parents helped you with everything, like doing laundry. I remember calling my mother after the first week I was in college to tell her “thank you.” I told her I didn’t realize everything she had done for me.
For example, at college when you get home at night, you’re in charge of your own dinner. You either go get something or fix yourself something. You realize nobody is going to make it for you. It’s up to you, or you’ll starve.
We learned how to deal with people, too. Coach Bruce Heppler allowed us to be involved with the sponsors of the golf team. We were able to interact with the supporters. That helped us know how to act when you play in a pro-am. Your No. 1 goal in a pro-am on the PGA Tour is to make sure the other players have a good time, and college is a positive influence. A lot of kids who are 17 and 18 years old, they don’t know how to interact. You send a 22-year-old out, and you hope they can interact on a different level. I think college sets you up for that because you’ve learned to interact with other adults and other students.
There’s a certain level of maturity needed to go out and play on the PGA Tour. I’d say 90 percent of us need to be 22 or 23 to mature and learn to deal with people on a worldly level.
As told to Stan Awtrey, for the AJC