Matthew du Plessis was searching for a way to stay in touch with his grandma. Quechee, a small Vermont town with a population of just 656 according to the 2010 U.S. Census, is a long ways away from Cape Town, South Africa.
So the 11-year-old, an avid golfer, started filming videos of himself that he could send to her.
“I started on my iPhone and shot a couple things while out on the course. Then I got a GoPro which opened up a different way to share my experiences. So I tried a couple more things. Then last winter I thought I would use the time while I couldn’t play to try a couple different ways to share my journey,” said du Plessis.
If you haven’t heard of Matthew du Plessis, then perhaps you know him by social media handle, @Md_18undapar. Matthew, or Matty for short, is the newest entertainer to star in his own series of golf trick shot videos. But where Matty differs from say the Bryan Bros, is he doesn’t want to be known just for his tricks. Matty wants to become the first golfer to shoot 18-under par and have it all on camera.
“My best round is always my next round but my lowest score is a 64. Right now my dream is to shoot 54 on my home course and then try to do the same on the best courses in the world,” said Matty. “I want to keep having fun and hopefully share this journey with others.”
Matty’s father, Lee, tells of the first time Matty approached him about his new video venture last May.
“I thought it was extreme but my wife knows what to say better than I do. Matty came in and asked if it was possible,” Lee recalled. “I was biting my tongue but my wife said go ahead and put a little work in, and go do it. Go shoot 18-under par.”
Lee brought Matty and the family over from Cape Town in 2007. Matty’s mom, Deb, is originally from the states, but moved to South Africa in 1997, where the two eventually met and started a family. Ten years later they settled in the small town of Quechee, Vermont, where Deb already had family in the area.
The move turned out to be a blessing for Matty, who now gets to regularly hit the links at the Highland Course at The Quechee Club, a private club that boasts nearly 400 golfing members.
One individual who took notice of Matty from an early age is Steve Rogers, the Head Golf Professional at The Quechee Club for the past 20 years. Steve says he saw something in Matty from the get-go.
“He has entrepreneur written all over him. Matty is a real young guy who just seems to take life by the horns and has a vision where he’d like to end up. The world’s not ready for a young guy like that. His vision is of someone who’s been doing it for 30 years,” said Rogers.
Matty and his dad have been visiting the course nearly every single day since the family moved to the area. Matty, who is a +4 handicap, works on his game, takes lessons and plays as many rounds as he can.
“Matty has the capabilities to be whatever he wants to be. He’s a Junior Club Champion for his age division and has the work ethic to make it to the top. He plays in the 8-11 year old age bracket but he’s good enough to be competing with the 16-17 year olds. The kid has a fire in his belly and has the physical capabilities to be there,” said Rogers.
Although he’s been filming his trick shot videos since last May, it wasn’t until this past January where Matty really burst onto the scene and started catching the attention of people in the golf world. That’s when Matty attended the 2015 PGA Show in Orlando, Florida.
“I got to meet The Bryan Bros who are so cool. First I thought what they do was so basic, then when I tried to start my videos and man it’s hectic. I hope they keep blowing up. I also got to meet Bubba Watson, Lydia Ko, Lexi Thompson and Blair O’Neal,” said Matty.
Ko, 17, is the LPGA No. 1 ranked golfer in the world, and happens to be Matty’s favorite player on tour.
“Lydia Ko is just the best. She’s so chill and her short game on fleet. She is showing that age is just a number, and that the ball doesn’t know who is hitting it,” Matty exclaimed.
“I just remember doing my normal tour at Demo Day, and I look over and Matty’s there with his dad and some shoe company being himself. He knows where to be, and he has a great big smile and he’s just a great kid,” described Rodgers, who made the trip down with Matty and his dad.
“It was like Christmas or Woodstock. Everyone was there and was very hyped and non-apologetic that they loved golf and worked in the business. Matty loved it. He wished it was more than a week long. He had us there from 8:00 a.m to close. We couldn’t keep up with him,” Lee added.
Matty is currently home schooled. The plan however, is for him to compete in high school and at the college level as his game continues to progress.
“Right now I am home schooled so it would be cool to get on a high school team. The college team experience looks pretty epic,” said Matty. “Anywhere you can be at the lab or links year round sounds pretty ‘Shweet’.”
“My wife and I are hoping that he will go to college. He’s met some coaches in passing or on the course. We went to a college tournament last October and most of the Ivy league schools were there. We hope he goes through the process but he hasn’t actually said anything to us so I guess well find out in a year or two,” Lee pointed out.
As for the present, Matty is just living in the moment and happy that so many people are enjoying his 18-under par journey and his trick shot videos.
“I want to just keep having fun, and hopefully share my journey with others. This winter I learnt how to appreciate golf in all its different forms. It feels like golf life isn’t just on the course but where ever I am as long as I am awake. Still trippin’ that people are connecting with what I’m sharing.” said Matty.
Matty’s dad is amazed by Matty’s passion and dedication.
“When you take a step back it is pretty cool that he’s so into it and that there’s so much interest. If he could he’d get a tent and camp out on the club and just come home for dinner. The club is just a great place to be. He’s out of trouble. Blue sky. Fresh air. Just a great benefit of loving the game so much and he’s handling everything well.”
As Matty continues his journey and as the world continues to watch, he hopes to inspire others to do the same.
“When someone says my video made their day or that they want to try to do the same thing or had the same experience – that’s pretty cool.”
It is pretty cool, isn’t it?