Since becoming the Red Sox beat reporter for the Boston Herald in 1995, Tony Massarotti has developed into a Boston sports media icon. From WEEI to AM 1510 to ESPN to the Boston Globe to numerous television guest shots, the man they call “Mazz” is one of the industry’s best. Now the co-host of the top-rated “Felger & Mazz” show on 98.5 The Sports Hub, Massarotti’s golf history predates his media work.
“I started when I was 18 or 19 years old as a freshman at Tufts,” explains the 44 year- old Massarotti, a Cambridge native raised in Waterown and Waltham. “Some friends of mine called and said they were going to go play golf. I said, ‘Let’s go shoot hoops or something, isn’t golf what old guys do?’ I learned the basics of the game that day, how to hold the club and things like that.” Massarotti’s rise as a multi-media star is vastly different from his ascension in golf. He explains, “After playing for about five years, I finally got more consistent with ball striking. I believe it takes five years to learn how to hit the ball, and then five more to hit it straight. I’m an average golfer. My handicap is a 15. I shoot an 84 or an 82 on a good day, and 102 on a bad day.”
Like many Massachusetts natives, Massarotti began playing at the famed Leo J. Martin public course. Since then, his course resume has expanded. He relates, “I’ve played Presidents, Granite Links, Ponkapoag and Juniper Hill. Cape Cod Country Club, Falmouth and Hyannis are my favorite Cape spots. “I like Sandy Burr because I’m not an especially long hitter. It’s a course that rewards you for keeping the ball straight. I usually hit the ball about 225 to 230 yards.” Golf has fit nicely into Massarotti’s work schedule dating back to his days as a Herald editorial assistant in 1990. He explains, “I would work from 5:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m., go home and sleep for about four hours, and then be ready to play by 5:30 or 6:00 in the morning.
“Red Sox road trips were also great. Some of my favorite courses outside New England are Crystal Springs in San Francisco, Riverside Golf Club in Texas, Vinoy Resort in St. Petersburg and Strawberry Farms in California.” Combining golf with work has never been a necessity for Massarotti, but it does serve a purpose. “At the very least it gives us something to talk about that is a good diversion,” he states. “It’s a nice way to get to know someone without probing for information. Starting pitchers are usually golfers because they have four days off between starts. I’ve played with (former Red Sox players) Derek Lowe and Jeff Frye. A lot of these guys see it as needed time away from work.”
Massarotti counts Lowe’s Red Sox no-hitter, the 2004 Red Sox postseason, and Pedro Martinez’s 17 strikeout game vs. the Yanks in 1999 as some of the most memorable events he has covered. As for his personal golf triumphs, those too are etched in his mindset. “I’ve broken 80 twice, one time at Wayland and the other at Falmouth. “I’ve never had a hole-in-one, but I got an eagle one time in St. Petersburg. Unfortunately, I never saw it. I hit a nine iron, about 135 yards. I saw it go over a mound, but I couldn’t see the green. When I got to the green, I couldn’t find my ball. I looked in the cup, and there it was.”
Massarotti’s life heroes are his parents and two sisters, Norma and Elena. Fittingly, his golf present and future is all about family. “My wife Natalie and I are members at Charter Oak Country Club in Hudson. She got her first hole-in-one there on a short par three. It’s family friendly type of place, and the course is challenging but not ridiculous. “I’m looking forward to being able to play together as family a family with my kids (Alexander, 7, and Xavier, 4). I do hope they have an interest in the game. It will be a real nice thing to share with them someday.”
Columnist John Molori writes for numerous publications and appears regularly on AM 1110 WCCM. Email John at MoloriMedia@aol.com.WHAT'S YOUR REACTION?