By Dean Russin
The Daily Star
---- — Matt Schulte is coming home.
After spending the last five years in Orlando, Fla., Oneonta native Schulte will return to the area later this month as the Oneonta Country Club’s director of golf.
“I’m excited about it,” said Schulte, a 2003 Oneonta High graduate who won the 2005 Atchinson Cup as Otsego County’s top amateur. “I grew up at OCC. I was a junior member, a staff member and an employee ever since I was 14.
“I came down to Orlando to pursue my education in the golf business,” continued Schulte, who served the Grand Cypress Golf Resort as an assistant golf professional from 2008-11 and has been its tournament coordinator since. “Grand Cypress is just a great place to learn the business. It’s been five years, though, so it’s time to move on.”
Schulte, 28, admitted he needed a little nudge.
“A couple people encouraged me to do this, and Joe Angelino was one of them,” he said of the former OCC pro, who is the director of golf at Grand Cypress Resort. “He didn’t really push it onto me, but he kind of reminded me I’m ready and I could do it. He gave me a little kick in the butt.”
OCC secretary and former Daily Star managing editor Cary Brunswick said the club officially hired Schulte during a Feb. 20 board meeting, about a month after Brad Hess resigned as director of golf.
“The board began an immediate search, and we were lucky enough to find that Matt was interested in moving back to the Oneonta area,” Brunswick, who served the OCC as its vice president last year, wrote in an email to The Daily Star. Brunswick did not elaborate on why Hess resigned.
Schulte said part of the reason the position appealed to him is because his wife of two years, Laura (Vescio) Schulte, is already working for Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, N.Y.
“Everything’s falling into place at the right time,” said Schulte, who added he and his wife are hoping to start a family soon.
Schulte, who said he will move from Orlando to Oneonta, will join his father, Kurt, on the OCC staff. The 2007 Otsego County Amateur champion, Kurt Schulte is the OCC’s president and serves on the board of directors. Matt Schulte said he will report to OCC vice president Kermit Weaver, who led the search committee, instead of his father to avoid any conflicts.
“I think he learned a lot in Grand Cypress because the (poor) economy impacted them and they had to figure out a way to generate revenue,” said Kurt Schulte, who added he was not part of the search committee and he offered to step way from the board so the OCC could pursue his son. “I think that experience is going to help him here. He worked eight or nine summers here, so he knows a lot of the members, too. I think it will be good from that angle as well.”
Matt Schulte said one of his jobs will be to keep OCC financially sound as it celebrates its centennial year in 2013.
“Certainly one of the priorities is growing the membership, bringing in new members to Oneonta and new players to the game of golf,” said Matt Schulte, who will take over a member-owned country club that opened to the public last year. “I see this as an opportunity for sure, but there’s a lot of work to be done. I have a passion for Oneonta and I think I can make a difference.”
Matt Schulte played five seasons of varsity golf for OHS and comes from a long line of successful golfers. He is one of five Schultes to win the Atchinson Cup, joining his father, uncles Mike (2010) and Alan (1985, 1983, 1982), and grandfather Harry (1993, 1989) as Otsego County Amateur champs. Alan Schulte qualified for the PGA Championship in 2006 and 2004 as well.
“When I was a kid, I always looked up to all the golf professionals at Oneonta,” Matt Schulte said. “I guess I thought it’d be pretty neat to one day get to be the pro at Oneonta and now, it’s going to come true. I genuinely care about the club and I plan on sticking around.”
Dean Russin can be reached at drussin@
thedailystar.com or 607-432-1000, ext. 215.