After walking away from his professional playing career in 2012 in favor of teaching the game, Isleworth PGA Professional Matt Borchert — a Dr. Phillips High alum — has qualified for the 100th PGA Championship this month at Bellerive in St. Louis.
Matthew Borchert has a unique outlook on his job as the PGA Professional at Isleworth Golf & Country Club.
As someone who grew up in the area, playing his high-school golf at Dr. Phillips High in the 1990s, Borchert dreamed of one day playing the gated community’s famous course.
Now that he gets to do so almost daily as part of his job, he really is just happy to be there.
“I’m probably the luckiest guy at Isleworth, as far as employment goes,” Borchert said. “To grow up in this area — I’ve lived in the area since 1988, and I didn’t go through the gates at Isleworth until I got the job in 2012.”
As a PGA professional, Borchert’s day-to-day responsibilities include heading up the golf instruction available at Isleworth. He teaches lessons and helps coordinate the golf-related services available to members.
One of the perks of being a PGA professional, though, is that they have their own tournaments, culminating in the PGA Professional Championship. That event took place in June in Seaside, California. The top 20 PGA Professionals from that event punched a ticket to the PGA Championship — one of professional golf’s four “majors.”
Borchert finished the event in Seaside as one of four golfers tied for 12th place at two-over-par, which was just enough to make the cut. With that, he now will have the opportunity to compete alongside the biggest names in golf at the 100th PGA Championship, set to take place Aug. 9 to 12 at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis.
A professional golfer for 12 years before he transitioned into instruction, Borchert said he appreciated the opportunity to be in the thick of a big tournament with high stakes once again.
“It’s funny how all the juices start flowing and how you want to be competitive among all your peers now,” Borchert said. “I kind of felt like if I just played my steady game, then I was capable of finishing in the top 20. … I’m really excited for my son to be there (at the PGA Championship) and maybe see Tiger (Woods).”
The PGA Championship will be Borchert’s second experience playing a major. Ironically, both opportunities came after he walked away from pro golf. In 2016, he accomplished a lifelong dream of qualifying for the U.S. Open when it was at Oakmont Country Club in Pittsburgh.
“I’m really looking forward to it, and I’m excited to play, because I haven’t been on this kind of stage in a couple (of) years.”
Given that prior experience — and what he said is an improved outlook on the game thanks to life as a father (his son, Harrison, is 5) — Borchert is optimistic his trip to St. Louis will be an enjoyable one.
“I kind of feel like, going into this one, I won’t be so awestruck by the size of the event,” Borchert said. “I’m really looking forward to it, and I’m excited to play, because I haven’t been on this kind of stage in a couple (of) years.”
After a strong high-school golf career at Dr. Phillips from 1991 to 1995, Borchert played collegiately for the University of North Florida, turning professional afterward. He played professional golf for 12 years after that on the PGA Tour and the Web.com Tour, with limited success.
Borchert said his best season on the PGA Tour was 2009, but even that relative success included examples of the issues that plagued his professional career. For instance, after shooting a career-low 66 in the first round of the John Deere Classic in 2009 — a score that had him in contention — he followed it up with rounds of 72, 72 and 75 to finish 65th, overall.
“That event kind of gives you an idea of how my career went,” Borchert said. “Mentally, I couldn’t get out of my way or let a bad hole go.”
Time and perspective have helped the Dr. Phillips alum to improve in that area. Although he says he still doesn’t boast a perfect temperament out on the links, Borchert said his work as a PGA professional — work where men and women who are very successful in other realms come to him to become better golfers — has helped his confidence.
“It made me realize that I was pretty good and that it’s just a game,” Borchert said, reflecting on how teaching golf has helped evolve his outlook. “They’re having fun making 7’s, 8’s and 9’s (on a hole) — and I was always so bent over trying to make par or birdie. It’s given me a new perspective on golf.”
After all, life is good. Borchert and his wife, Julie, who he met while at Dr. Phillips High, have a home near Lake Whitney Elementary in Winter Garden. Plus, as he will tell you, he’s got a pretty great day job.
“I’m working at the place I always wanted to play,” Borchert said.