Iconic Celtics’ play-by-play announcer Mike Gorman spent his summer vacation calling Olympic handball. While the games were in London, Gorman called the action from a video monitor in New York. It was a refreshing career challenge for the veteran broadcaster, but it also took him away from his true passion, golf.
“I used to play at Franklin Field,” says Gorman, a Dorchester native who now resides in upstate New York. “I also caddied at Wollaston Golf Club. (Boston Herald icon) Kevin Mannix was the caddy master. I played at Ponkapoag and in high school, but never had any instruction. I just hit the ball. In the Navy, we had some down time to play during flight training.”
As the Boston Latin and Boston State graduate’s media career unfolded, golf took a backseat to his packed schedule. He eventually returned to the game and seldom passes up an opportunity to play, especially when traveling with a certain well-connected NBA head coach. “Doc (Rivers) knows everyone, so I’ll play on an off day in Phoenix or Florida. Those courses are so flat and wide open. I honestly prefer Northeast courses. Between November and April, I might get in five rounds of golf.”
Like many golf purists, Gorman tends toward minimalist tastes. “I belong to Salem Golf Club in (North Salem) New York. ere are no pools and no tennis courts. It’s an old fashioned golf course. The pro shop is out of the 1950s. I like to play Weston with (Celtics co-owner) Steve Pagliuca. Honestly, in New England I’m America’s Guest. If someone invites me to play, I am there.”
A self-professed range rat, this New England Basketball Hall of Famer immerses himself in the game and loves every bit of it. “I like to play by myself and with people who are serious about golf,” explains Gorman. “A lot of times, when I play with someone for the first time, they want to spend two and a half hours talking about the Celtics. I appreciate that, but I’d rather talk about why I keep hitting the ball to the right.”
As for memorable golf moments, Gorman recalls an interesting pair. “I got a double eagle playing at Metacomet in Rhode Island. It was a par 5 and I crushed a 3 wood. Playing Bethpage Black was a humbling experience. We decided to play it as it lies and hit from the back tees. I shot a 123, but really felt like I played well.”
A multiple Emmy winner, Gorman has played golf with ex-Celtic Ray Allen and broadcast colleague Donny Marshall, but he generally takes a more intimate approach to the game. “Golf is very personal to me,” he explains. “When I play, all I want to do is play.
“I do enjoy playing with people who are better than I am. One time at the range, there was a guy with an amazing backswing. He was hitting these beautiful 275 to 300 yard drives. You could throw a blanket over where they all landed. I love watching things like that.”
Gorman’s golf bucket list includes a trip abroad and, perhaps, a seemingly natural career shift. He relates, “I went to Ireland 7 or 8 years ago to trace my family history and actually found the barn where my grandmother was born. I’d like to get back there and to Scotland. I’d also like to broadcast golf. That might be what I do in retirement.”
Future plans aside, Gorman and Tommy Heinsohn will embark on their record 32nd season calling Celtics game this fall on Comcast SportsNet. So, does the duo also take their act to the golf course? Gorman responds, “Last year, on a day off in Charlotte, Tommy came to the course with me. He didn’t golf, but he rode in the cart for 18 holes eating candy bars and making jokes. It was wonderful to be with him.”
Wonderful is the perfect word to describe Gorman’s uniquely understated on-air style. His current golf game is just as impressive. “I’m a better golfer today than ever. I really just love to get out on the range and hit balls. It may sound crazy, but sometimes you get in a groove at the range and it carries over to the course. I really feel like my best round ever is still ahead of me.”
John Molori is the co-author of “The Cracker Jack Collection: Baseball’s Prized Players” to be released in the fall of 2013. Email John at MoloriMedia@aol.com.WHAT'S YOUR REACTION?