|Matt Kachurak died last year as a result of injuries sustained in a car accident.|
BMW GTM: Memory of fallen member motivates Wyoming Valley
A presence in Wyoming Valley Country Club’s heart outweighs a newfound one in the BMW GAP Team Matches’ top tier.
| BMW GAP Team Matches preview |
The club’s first team will bear an “In Matt’s memory” insignia for its Division AA debut. Wyoming Valley lost a prominent member in Matt Kachurak, who died as a result of injuries sustained in a car accident on July 24, 2015. He was 23.
“It was a true tragedy that we lost Matt,” Charles Rado, a Wyoming Valley member of 30 years, said. “He was an excellent golfer. He was a nice kid to play golf with. When you played with him for four or five hours, you felt good and relaxed. You felt like it was fun. There was no drudgery involved. He meant a lot to our team. It wasn’t just his presence. His skills and ability will be much lost.”
The Wyoming Valley team, in part, attributes its AA presence to the efforts of both Kachurak and Rado. Representing the final foursome in last year’s Challenge against Merion Golf Club, the two swept the better-ball portion; Kachurak grabbed all three singles points as well.
“They brought home the points to push us past Merion,” Joseph Weiscarger, Wyoming Valley’s team captain, said. “I was down at Merion and we were waiting for that match to come in. That changed it from defeat to victory.” Wyoming Valley edged Merion, 28.5–25.
Kachurak, a three-time Junior club champion, grew up at Wyoming Valley. He and his dad Dave captured the Wyoming Valley Classic in 2011, becoming one of only three father-son teams to do so in 51 years.
“The memories that Matt created were of a kid who respected the game and respected the people he played with,” Dave Kachurak, 65, of Mountain Top, Pa., said. “He had a tremendous amount of appreciation for how he was treated. After he died, that’s all people talked about: how respectful and great of a kid he was. We hate that he’s gone, but we love what people say about him. It reaffirms what we we believe as parents; he grew up to be a fine young man and he understood what it meant to respect people and to appreciate the opportunities he received.”
The BMW GAP Team Matches represented one of those opportunities.
“He loved participating, and it wasn’t just because he was playing golf. He loved everything that came with it,” Dave Kachurak said. “I think the biggest meaning [of the BMW GAP Team Matches] for Matt was the camaraderie, the friendships that he built and the support that he got from the members at Wyoming Valley. Being just a kid, they opened their arms and welcomed him. After Matt died, the support that he got from the club was amazing.
“The (BMW) GAP (Team) Matches gave Matt a chance to build as a person. He respected other players and the talents they all had. We’re truly grateful for how all of those people helped Matt grow and turn into the person he turned into.”
Other obligations kept Dave Kachurak away from the BMW GAP Team Matches in years past. He plans on participating at least one Sunday this year — to honor Matt and to represent the Kachurak name.
Matt Kachurak attended Crestwood High School and played on its golf team. He and friend Josh Popowycz, also a Wyoming Valley member, frequently joined forces in competition and steadily improved with each shared round.
“Golf was definitely the starting point and really the centerpiece of our friendship,” Popowycz, 25, of Mountain Top, Pa., said. “He just had a good demeanor. He was very easygoing and fun to play with. He would joke around with you. He was always a fun person to be paired up with. He took tension away from the game and made it an enjoyable experience.”
Kachurak and Popowycz played their last competitive round together as partners at Laurel Creek Country Club during the 2015 BMW GAP Team Matches.
“Golf-wise, he was very crisp in everything he did,” Popowycz said. “He was very meticulous around the greens. He was very smooth. He had it all. He provided great entertainment, great joy and great laughs.”
Keeping Kachurak and his calm yet competitive spirit in mind, Wyoming Valley enters Section I in Division AA alongside defending champion Philadelphia Cricket Club 1, Makefield Highlands Golf Club and Scranton-area brethren Glenmaura National Golf Club.
“For being up here in the Northeast, it’s pretty exciting for us. This is the first time for us to be in such a high level of competition,” Weiscarger, 58, of Wilkes-Barre, Pa., said. “We’re in a new frontier. It gives all of the members an extra push to want to be out there on the golf course to get the winter rust off. We know that well be an underdog in every match. but the fun is in the challenge. It’s not about winning or losing; it’s about having fun.”
Perhaps — more importantly — about a loved one in Kachurak, whose presence will resonate with the Wyoming Valley team as it tees off Sunday.
“Everybody knew Matt. Everybody liked Matt. Everybody was heartbroken when he was killed in that car accident,” Rado, 66, of Dallas, Pa., said. “When the time is right, we’ll bring up Matt. I can assure you that. Our club is for every person. We have every person imaginable. We all know each other and we all try to have a good time together. Matt was one of our brothers.”
“He will never be forgotten. He’s still a part of the team,” Weiscarger added.
Matt Kachurak is survived by his father Dave, mother Susan and brother Michael, who is a superintendent at Merion.
Golf Association of Philadelphia
Founded in 1897, the Golf Association of Philadelphia (GAP) is the oldest regional golf association in the United States and serves as the principal ruling body of amateur golf in its region. Its 153 Full Member Clubs and 57,000 individual members are spread across parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. As Philadelphia’s Most Trusted Source of Golf Information, the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s mission is to promote, preserve and protect the game of golf.