Lifestyle Outdoors Recreation

On a Personal Note: Matthew Bacoate

Matthew Bacoate at Asheville Municipal Golf Course. Photo by Frances O’Connor

By Emma Castleberry

The first time I met Matthew Bacoate, he slipped a bright, new half dollar coin into my hand. This is not unusual—if you ever meet Matthew, you’ll likely get a coin, especially if you flash him a smile. The most coins he’s ever given out in a day was 177, at a Juneteenth celebration in 2022.

“I’m doing everything I can to bring people together, to get people talking, and these,” he says, grinning and holding up a shiny coin, “folks talk about them.”

Matthew, who has lived in Asheville since he was born 94 years ago, is all about connection. He wants to see people make eye contact and communicate with kindness. He pursues this mission tirelessly, and says he sleeps about three hours a night. “My brain is about 145 years old,” he says. “I’m going, in meetings and around town, 14 hours every day.”

Matthew is a bit of a local icon—he has a room named after him in the boutique hotel Blind Tiger Asheville, and he’s an institution at the Asheville Municipal Golf Course (Muni), where the Skyview Golf Association was founded by Charles Collette in 1959. At the time, Asheville Muni was the only course in the area open to African Americans, and the association’s goal was to promote golf competition among African American golfers in the US.

“Skyview is about the history and resiliency of a group of men who were denied opportunities to participate in regulated golf,” says Matthew. “The group had to forge their way through lawsuits in order to bring about a new day.”

The Association hosted the first annual Skyview Golf Tournament in 1960. Matthew was in charge of advertising and promoting the event and made signs with cardboard and crayons. More than 50 golfers and 200 spectators came out to participate in that first tournament. “This is one of 33 of these types of tournaments that have been started since 1955 in various parts of the southeast, and we are the only one left,” says Matthew.

The Skyview Golf Association asked Matthew to take over management of the tournament in 2014. “I said, ‘You all be available when I need you, but when I don’t need you, stay out of the way, and I’ll shoot your tournament to the moon,’” he remembers.

The Skyview Golf Tournament takes place this year on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, July 9–11. More than 160 golfers, including around 60 professionals, are expected to compete for the $40,000 purse and $6,500 first-place prize.

Matthew is excited to show off the newly improved Asheville course, which has undergone a $3.2 million capital improvement project funded by the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority, the City of Asheville, user fees, and grants. The project has improved stormwater and irrigation management, repaired infrastructure, renovated the pro shop, and improved tees, greens and bunkers on the nearly 100-year-old course.

Matthew says that most golfers who attend the tournament once end up returning, in large part due to the incredible staff at Asheville Muni.

“They put on their best every day,” he says, “and during the tournament, I get lots of remarks from people saying the staff here are just awesome.”

The Skyview Golf Tournament is another opportunity for Matthew to pursue his ultimate goal: to bring people together, and to get people talking. “Since 2014, every year we’ve been building,” he says of the tournament. “We’re not quite to the moon, but we’re fast approaching.”

Asheville Municipal Golf Course is located at 226 Fairway Drive, Asheville. Learn more about Skyview and register for the tournament at

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