Military Veteran Matt Knapp Savors Golf at Collegiate Level

By Bill Beckner, Jr. | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, September 4, 2011 | Go to article overview

Military Veteran Matt Knapp Savors Golf at Collegiate Level


Bill Beckner, Jr., Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


Penn State New Kensington senior Matt Knapp used to work in military security guarding high-ranking officials and nuclear weapons for the U.S. Army.

He now guards against out-of-bounds stakes, sand traps and strange looks from opposing golfers and coaches.

Knapp isn't your average college golfer. He is 44 years old, a father of three -- including a 22-year-old stepdaughter who also attended PSNK -- and plays drums in a couple of local bands.

"I've been around," said Knapp, a Kiski Area graduate and Leechburg resident. "I do a little of everything."

A second-year player and fourth-year student, Knapp is twice as old as most of his teammates. He is closer in age to coach Bill Woodard, who is 57.

Still, Knapp does his best to blend in with the 20-somethings.

"I think maybe the guys are a little scared of me," said Knapp with a laugh. "I also ride a Harley."

The Lions' quiet elder statesman said the team accepted him with little resistance.

"I get along pretty well with the kids on the team," Knapp said. "They seem a lot more mature than the average student out there. Not sure why that is, but it's true.

"The biggest problem I am having is all the coaches from other teams -- most are younger than me -- are hiding behind trees and watching so I don't cheat or chew tobacco."

Woodard said Knapp likely will fill the team's No. 3 or 4 spot. Knapp shot 88 in the season-opening match Friday at Tam O'Shanter Golf Club against Penn State Shenango.

"He has good length off the tee and is handy around the green," Woodard said. "He doesn't get rattled by a bad shot and can recover to keep it no worse than bogey."

Knapp said he was a single-digit handicap during his military days.

"I got to play all of the military courses," he said. "I'd have to say some of the best ones were in Hawaii."

Knapp was given clearance to use a cart -- similar to former controversial PGA Tour player Casey Martin -- due to lower back and ankle injuries sustained while serving. …

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