Photo credit: Matt Rommel Photography
Imperial recently teamed up with Matt Cardis of Golf in Your State and the Golf Wall Project to help support his mission of, “travel the country, raise money for creative giveback initiatives relating to golf and bring golfers together to perform all types of community service with the money raised.”
Since his first expedition beginning in 2016, Matt has traveled more than 100,000 miles and continues that journey in his Sprinter van across the nation. We caught up with Matt in between his fall travels to learn more about his mission, which Imperial is thrilled to be involved with and follow along.
Imperial: What was your path before Golf in Your State and did you envision what you’re doing today?
Right out of college I moved to Jackson Hole, Wyoming for a ski season. I learned quickly that’s where I wanted to be and it’s still home base over 15 years later. I’ve always been an avid outdoorsman. My favorite hobbies include fly-fishing, mountain biking, snowboarding (I have my Avalanche I & II certifications), hiking, hunting, camping, rafting, golfing and many others. You name it outdoors and I’m about it. I chose to live in a place that I could do what I love each and every day. I never understood the mindset of working towards retirement to then enjoy life. I loved the idea of being in a seasonal community and working jobs that allowed me to travel in the offseason. I worked a variety of jobs in Hotels and Hospitality, as Sales Manager for a Destination Management Company creating unique experience trips for corporate clients and as an Advertising Sales Manager for Teton Media Works, a local publishing company. I’ve been shooting photos since my teen years. I have a degree in Journalism and always enjoyed the visual side of storytelling. Jackson is really where I refined my craft and found a love for Landscape and Wildlife Photography. Looking back 10 years, I would have never thought I’d be where I am today. I’ve also been training for this my entire life without knowing it and it all makes so much sense now.
Imperial: What does the van mean to you? It’s a home on the road but seems like so much more.
The van is everything to me. It’s my home and our mobile clubhouse. The plan was always to turn it into a traveling golf art installation. The interior, a collection of golf related art collected and submitted via friends and followers on social media. The exterior has a vinyl wrap including all my brand partners along with the signatures of all the people that have participated in the Golf Wall Project. My goal is to continue to add to it as people meet up with me along the road so it will be constantly evolving. Included in the van is a library of golf books on a variety of topics so I can help spread some golf knowledge. I like the give a book, get a book model but have been giving a few to beginning golfers hoping to inspire them. People have really been digging the van and it’s something I’m very proud of.
Imperial: How did Golf in Your State evolve into the Golf Wall Project and what inspired you to take on this endeavor?
I found in my travels constantly wanting to giveback to the communities I visited in some way, shape or form. Something as simple as picking up trash along a road or in a park, feeding homeless people to more involved contributions such as volunteering at local non-profits or donating blood. I did these things because giving back makes me happy and a word I kept hearing was “inspiring”. I had this idea of bringing golfers together to giveback to their communities by performing community service or other golf oriented initiatives like helping municipal golf courses.
I want the general public to see “golfers” doing good for their community and potentially shift the perception of the game, what the modern golfer is and showcase the current culture of golf in America. Golf In Your Sate is the travel function of what I do and the Golf Wall Project is my passion. Breaking down walls that have hindered the growth of the game while building a foundation for its future.
Imperial: What are the biggest obstacles you face doing most of your work on the road?
Full-time on the road is tough, especially living out of a van. There are many obstacles that you face on a daily basis. As a one man show, the biggest challenge I would say is time management. Between working, shooting, editing, planning and scheduling, driving, cooking, playing golf, emails, entertaining, hosting events and running a business, there aren’t many moments for sleep or personal time. I’m a photographer, but I wear many hats. It’s easy to get sidetracked as you are visiting new places and meeting people or seeing familiar faces in places you love. I schedule specific days off while on the road so that I have a dedicated time to catch up on work but sometimes the list grows bigger than the time available. This is a 24/7 lifestyle and I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Imperial: Do you have any specific stories or anecdotes that embody this journey so far?
My hope is to inspire people to look at their own daily lives. I’m using my platform to bring awareness and educational value towards environmental and social issues that surround us all and have a lasting impact on those involved. The stories are already too numerous to tell and I’m proud of that. The Golf Wall Project is designed for me to leave a footprint and for those involved to continue it on in their community as a group or individually. If I can do a beach cleanup and inform people about how their buying decisions do have a lasting impact on the environment and show them first hand, then maybe they might reconsider next time they go to buy that plastic water bottle.
Imperial: What are your plans for the rest of the year and how can people get involved with the Golf Wall Project?
I still have a long way to go in 2019. I’m currently in New York with my event here scheduled for November 2nd. After this, I head back out west before returning to Florida in January. I’m projecting about another 10,000 miles on the road between now and January. The Golf Wall Project will be returning in 2020 with events already being scheduled in a select number of cities across the country. The way I’m raising the money for the giveback initiatives is offering different on and off course photo sessions with me as well as custom built experience trips. Ever wanted to go to Bandon and have a completely unique experience, camp on a cranberry farm, play the resort, go off-roading on the beach below Old Mac? If so, one of my experience trips may interest you. The best place to get information and sign up is on the website at www.golfinyourstate.com. Or feel free to hit me up on Instagram with any questions.