"I first picked up a club when I was about four," said Hand senior golfer Matthew Doyle. "When I was 12, I had to choose between baseball and golf and I think I made the right choice."
One look at Doyle's trophy case and you would agree. Even after his junior season was canceled by the pandemic, Doyle has continued to improve and made a name for himself on the junior golf circuit. His senior season is also off to a promising start for Daniel Hand High School.
"Matthew is an absolute joy to coach," said Hand boys golf head coach Jim Holleran. "What separates him from the crowd is his determination, his desire for excellence, maturity and work ethic."
Doyle is currently ranked 34th in the country by the American Junior Golf Association. He makes it look easy on the course but his journey to the top of the leaderboard has been anything but easy.
"I have a hip disorder known as Legg-Calve-Perthes disease and it cut off the blood flow to my femoral head," said Doyle. "The blood flow didn't start until I was about 12 so it kind of deteriorated and when it finally grew back in, the femoral head mushroomed out so now it's just bone on bone contact with ball and socket of the hip. Sometimes nerves can get caught in there and snap and that's when the real pain starts."
The condition, which will likely require surgery in the future, has sometimes made it difficult for Doyle to walk.
"There have been multiple times where I had to start hopping on one foot because it hurt so bad," said Doyle. "The doctors describe it like a tire, the more you use it, the more it's going to wear down and the quicker you'll need surgery."
Doyle has figured out ways to play through it, avoiding cold weather tournaments and doing his best to limit wear and tear.
"For all of my tournaments, I have a medical exemption to ride a cart," said Doyle.
"You would never know watching Matthew that he has a disability to overcome, the way he plays," said Holleran.
The skills learned on the course at Madison have taken Doyle to the highest levels of the game.
"Playing in junior golf tournaments all over the world, it's just fantastic," said Doyle. "You get to meet so many people."
"He's never going to give up," added Holleran. "His game continues to get better and better and he's willing to put in the work."
Doyle is currently finishing up his senior season at Hand before heading to Elon University of continue his golf career. His goal is to play professionally but also to set an example that anything is possible no matter what obstacles you may face.
"There are multiple Facebook group chats with people with my condition and it's great seeing all of their stories about how parents are talking about how their kids picked up the game of golf because they saw my story," said Doyle. "That's really what I want to do in life. I want to inspire others. I've also been able to inspire myself because I know that I can overcome anything."