WESTFIELD – Golf has been a family affair for Westfield State University senior Matteo Godek, who’ll likely complete his collegiate play over the next two weeks as the Owls play a pair of dual meets, followed by the 2021 MASCAC Championships.
Matteo’s father, Dean Godek ’88, was also a standout golfer for the Owls, and his sister, Alia Plays at NCAA Division II Franklin Pierce University in New Hampshire.
Matteo was the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference co-medalist in fall 2018 when the Owls won the MASCAC title. In the fall of 2019, which was the last conference championship event prior to the pandemic, Westfield finished second to league newcomer Springfield College by six stokes for the team title.
“I’ve been grinding the last few weeks to get ready for (the 2021 MASCAC Tournament)” said Matteo. “I’m really pushing for it this year, and senior year will be the last chance to pull it out again. For the last three weeks we’ve been practicing every day and doing a lot of work on chipping and putting.”
“We have a solid top six on the team so far in practice, and it’s really going to be a battle for the last spot in the top five for the MASCAC Tournament,” he added.
Matteo looks forward to the league tournament, which will be played at The Ranch Golf Club in Southwick, Mass., a course he said he has played 10-15 times, being so close to his hometown of Agawam and Westfield State.
“We played a nine-hole match there in high school, and I shot 1-under, which was going to be a school record,” Matteo said. “But then my sister chipped in on the last hole to finish 2-under so she got the record.”
Both Matteo and Alia’s golf games may be trumped by Dean’s.
After graduating from Westfield State, Dean Godek qualified and played in three U.S. Amateurs, where he twice advanced out of stroke play to the match play portion of the event, notably squaring off with Justin Leonard, the defending champion in the event in the 1993 match play. (Leonard later won the British Open and the Players as a professional and is currently a Golf Channel analyst). “I got my picture taken with Tiger Woods, and lost to former champ John Harris at Pumpkin Ridge in 1996,” he said.
Dean also played in the US Mid-Amateur and three USGA Public Links championship events, among scores of local and regional tournaments.
The Owls ranked as high as 12th in the nation in Dean’s tenure, and he qualified for the NCAA Division III Championships in 1988, where he finished 15th individually to earn All-America honors with a three-day score of 230 at the Greensboro (N.C.) Country Club.
“We had a good team … we were ranked in the top 25 my senior year, and we played in the Yale Cup tournament against Division I, II and III teams,” said Dean.
Dean transferred to Westfield State after two years at Holyoke Community College, where he was a regional champion and qualified for the junior college national championship twice.
Dean has been the common denominator as he and Alia won the 2016 MassGolf Father-Daughter Tournament, a feat he and Matteo nearly matched in the 2020 MassGolf Father-Son, where they birdied the last five holes to finish third, one stroke behind the winners.
“Technically, Matteo is a better player, but mentally I am,” said Dean.
“That’s exactly it,” said Matteo when learning his dad’s answer.
“When we play together, mentally I can get to him, but I am very impressed by his game,” said Dean. “He got me the other day.”
The duo play out of Oak Ridge Golf Club in Agawam.
Matteo, a business management and marketing major, will have the option for an extra year of eligibility due to the pandemic, but said at the moment he is more focused on getting into his planned career as a financial advisor, and taking some of the tests to get certified in the field.
While Dean, and Matteo’s mom, Pina ’90, went to Westfield State, Matteo said that they really didn’t influence his decision to attend.
“Ultimately, Westfield was the only school I applied to,” said Matteo. “I was almost sick of golf at the time and had some other offers and calls from coaches, but coming to Westfield State has been the best decision ever, meeting and getting to know all the guys on the team. I didn’t want to be stressed out by golf, wanted to have fun and have some great memories of college”
“I have a lot of friends from home, the campus is great,” he said. “I lived at home as a freshman, then on campus for my sophomore and junior year, and now live off campus with some of my friends.”
“I’m happy to have my kids explore what they want to do,” said Dean. “He wanted to have fun and enjoy college. It’s more important to have fun where you are and with what you are doing then to be somewhere you don’t want to be.”
Outside of golf, Matteo said he loves playing any sport, noting that this past year he and his dad started playing hockey together in a local men’s league.
Matteo fired a career best 67 at the Westfield State Invitational meet at Tekoa Country Club, in April 2019.
“Since we practice there so much, I know the course like the back of my hand,” said Matteo of the original 1923 Donald Ross-designed course that serves as the Owls’ home track. “I think I bogeyed the first hole that day. I usually play better when the pressure is off. ”
“My mom came to watch me play that day, and I think I two-putted from about two feet the first hole she watched, and I almost told her she had to go! But a couple other friends were there too and we were all able to chat during the match which made it more relaxing. On the 18th green, I was about 30 feet left of the pin, and had a crazy putt that had to go way up the hill and come back down and I made it for a birdie. I didn’t want to know what my score was, and I was a little nervous for the last couple of holes, and made a good up and down from the bunker, and when I turned my card in coach (Rich Sutter) told me he thought it was a school record.”
“And we won that meet as a team, and it was the last home meet for (then senior) Nick Eliopoulos which made it kind of special,” said Matteo.
The final go-round for Matteo has a chance to be special as well, as he and the Owls look to recapture some of what they missed out on as the global COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has played havoc with collegiate schedules.
“I thought it was the best team we have had last spring, it’s a shame that we weren’t able to finish out the season,” said Godek. “I really ended up losing a full season between last spring and this past fall.”
Westfield State will play a pair of dual matches against Worcester State this week, one at Blackstone National in Sutton, Mass. on Friday, the other at Tekoa on Sunday, before the April 28 MASCAC Championship meet, which will be a 1-day, 18-hole match, shortened this year by pandemic protocols. – Courtesy of Westfield State University Sports