Matthew Doyle defies odds on the greens

14 year-old suffers from Legg-Calve-Perthes disease

By Eric Johnson - Sports Reporter

ROANOKE, Va. - In its 34 years of existence, the Scott Robertson has seen very diverse fields of junior golfers. But this year there is a first.

"Honestly this is our first individual with a disability. So this is new for us," said tournament director Debbie Ferguson.

Matthew Doyle suffers from a rare degenerative bone condition that affects his hip, known as Legg-Calve-Perthes disease. He was diagnosed at the age of 3 but played multiple sports growing up, including golf.

"First my dad brought me in the golf course when I was about 4 years old," said Doyle.

He was forced three years ago to give up all contact sports.

"He had to make a choice between baseball, which was the last other sport he was playing, and golf. And you know, he had to make that choice, and he chose to play golf," said Matthew's father, Mike Doyle.

But Matthew didn't let that news keep him in a bunker. Despite needing a cart on the course, the junior golfer has competed in multiple events across the nation.

It's not always an easy day on the course for Matthew. He said he goes through strenuous activities before a tournament in order to stay loose. But at times he still comes out of a tournament with limited mobility for up to a week.

"Sometimes after a round I can be in crutches up to a week. I do a lot of leg stretches so it actually stretches out my hip. Sometimes my hip starts to hurt a little bit. I'll take Advil just to prevent it from getting worse," said Matthew.

"It could be any type of shot- a downhill lie, you know, a bit behind a root, that kind of thing that will just jar it. When that happens, he's hopping literally on one leg," said Mike Doyle.

7 May 1998: Casey Martin in action during the Carolina Classic at the Raleigh Country Club in Raleigh, North Carolina. Mandatory Credit: Craig Jones/Allsport

As he takes on the greens and the fairways, Matthew draws inspiration from former PGA golfer Casey Martin, who suffers from a birth defect in his right leg. Matthew hopes he can be the same inspiration for others who want to play sports. 

8 Jun 1998: Casey Martin of the USA drives his golf cart on the fairway of the first hole during the 1998 U.S. Open Championships on the 6,797-yard, par-70 Lake Course at The Olympic Club in San Francisco, California. Credit: Andrew Reddington

"Most sports you can't play with my hip condition, and golf is one that you can play. So if you're looking for a sport to play, play golf," said Matthew.

16 Jun 1998: Tiger Woods (L) and Casey Martin (R) look on at the twelfth hole during the 1998 U.S. Open Championships on the 6,797-yard, par-70 Lake Course at The Olympic Club in San Francisco, California. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Reddington /Allsport


"I never want the hip disability to be the number one thing that comes to mind. I want it to be the fact that he can play golf at a high level even though he's got this disability," said Mike Doyle.

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