Oglethorpe's Alivia Mattiace continues family golf tradition

Oglethorpe's Alivia Mattiace continues family golf tradition

College

Oglethorpe's Alivia Mattiace continues family golf tradition

MIRAMAR BEACH, Fla. – When Alivia Mattiace was in middle school, her teachers would ask her why she didn’t play golf more.

“Are you a Mattiace?” they’d ask. “Then go play golf.”

By the time Mattiace was in high school, she had dropped soccer to focus solely on the sport that her family is known for. Her uncle, Len Mattiace, was part of Wake Forest’s 1986 NCAA Championship-winning team, won twice on the PGA Tour and most famously lost the Masters in a playoff to Mike Weir in 2003. Her other uncle, Ken Mattiace, and her dad, Bob Mattiace, also played pro golf, though neither made it to the PGA Tour. Her grandfather, Lou Mattiace, who died in September, influenced all of his boys, caddieing as a kid before skipping college to focus on his golf shop. Lou was also a club champion at Garden City Golf Club on Long Island.

Alivia’s brother, Michael Mattiace, is a junior at North Florida while her cousin, Tiaan Mattiace, Ken’s son, is a junior golfer still in the recruiting process.

“My whole life I’ve been expected to play golf,” Alivia said.

But Alivia’s path to college golf – she is a sophomore at Division-III Oglethorpe University near Atlanta – was never forced upon her. It was entirely her decision.

“I just made golf fun for her and she stuck with it,” said Bob, who now runs the family shop, Mattiace Golf, in Jacksonville Beach, Fla. “She had a lot of help from her uncles and my dad. She had the opportunity to play and then we she got exposed to it, she liked it.

“Now, it seems like every year she gets better and better.”

Added Alivia: “I always have a lot of help whenever I need it. I can call any of them up.”

Alivia’s game has taken off in the past year. She spent all summer working on her game out of TPC Sawgrass, playing about twice a week with her Uncle Len on the Dye’s Valley Course. Len was home for much of the summer as he took a break from the PGA Tour Champions – Bob is his regular caddie on the senior tour – to be with Lou, who was battling cancer. “That was a tough one,” Bob said. “He was a big influence on everybody.”

It was Len who suggested that Alivia switch to a cross-handed putting grip earlier this year.

“I was a terrible putter,” Alivia said. “I used to have as many as 15 three-putts a round.”

The results have been noticeable.

“Her short game and putting have improved dramatically,” Oglethorpe director of golf Jim Owen said. “She hit it further than anybody on our team and her ballstriking was very strong, but she couldn’t get it in the hole. Now, she has more confidence with speed control and is making more of her short putts.”

Alivia opened the Golfweek Division III Fall Invitational with a 10-over 82 at Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort’s Baytowne Course, which played to a scoring average of 83.04. She has made the lineup in all three fall events so far for the Stormy Petrels.

Last season, Alivia didn’t crack the lineup until the Southern Athletic Association Championship, when she placed 23rd to help Oglethorpe to a second-place finish, its best SAA showing in program history.

“Once she started practicing every day, her scores started dropping like crazy,” Owen said. “She made a significant contribution to the conference tournament and lifted us to a second-place finish.”

At this point, Alivia doesn’t plan on following in her dad’s and uncle’s footsteps by turning pro. She’d rather do something in the golf industry and add another layer to the family golf legacy.

“A lot of people would be trying to hide from the name, but she just embraces it and it’s just who she is,” Owen said. “It’s not daunting to her at all.”

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