With the popularity of social media, many of us have found new friends who share our love of the game and, in some cases, who are incredibly supportive of our goal to connect with like-minded golfers. Such is the case with Chris Mascaro, host of the popular “Next on the Tee” golf podcast, who spends time with host Mitch Laurance on Episode 161 of “Talking GolfGetaways.”
Mitch begins the podcast by thanking Chris for his support over the years, and then asks about Chris’ start in the game at age 12. You’ll hear how Chris’ father played the key role in his early golf years, how his dad started taking him for lessons with Ken Friend at The Tides Golf Club in Florida, and how playing late in the afternoons together became the place where they bonded the most. He relates how they moved around a lot, and how early morning trips to a municipal golf course just south of Boston still holds special memories for him. Chris shares the joy he feels now, playing with his own son and his now 78-year-old father when they all gather, and how passing on of the game has become such an important part of their family’s relationship.
Mitch then asks about the special connection to PGA and LPGA teachers that are a weekly feature of Chris’ podcast. Chris explains his deep connection to them all, explains why he feels it’s such an important part of the game for everyone who plays and for those just beginning to play. “I want to give them a voice,” he says, “because I want people to get better and be happier playing the game.”
Mitch then moves on to asking about how “Next on the Tee” got started. Chris goes back to the early days of the podcast in 2011 and explains how a connection on social media who was looking for baseball writers led eventually to a baseball podcast which led to a football podcast (Thursday Night Tailgate) which led to a spot for that podcast on the Armed Forces Radio Network which led to a live pilot episode in 2014 for a golf podcast, (with guests Gary Player and Billy Casper!) on AFRN which led to high listenership and Next on the Tee as a regular feature. Chris relates how he got Player and Casper to join the show, and history was made. An incredible journey to be sure.
Mitch then asks Chris about his insistence on positivity on his Thursday Night Tailgate NFL podcast, and Chris responds in detail about his decision to spotlight great players and the work they regularly do for various charities and causes.
The conversation moves to golf courses and Chris’ choices in the Atlanta area. He mentions the Cobblestone Golf Course in Acworth, Georgia, managed by the Bobby Jones Company, a municipal course Chris says is “by far my favorite to play.” He talks about what he calls “the greatest golf experience I’ve ever had,” a round at iconic East Lake Golf Club. Bears Best, a Jack Nicklaus’ public course featuring 18 of Jack’s favorite hole designs is another pick, especially after Chris had a chance to walk three holes with Nicklaus during the opening of the course.
Chris then mentions trying to play courses by his good friend and frequent “Next on the Tee” guest, architect Bill Bergin, whose mountaintop design of The McLemore has recently opened outside of Chattanooga, Tenn., and which has received rave reviews for its stunning layout and beautiful vistas. (Chris has partnered with The McLemore and urges all who can visit TheMcLemore.com to find out why it’s such a special spot.)
Bucket List course for Chris is (other than the usual suspects of Pebble Beach, Augusta National, Oakmont), at the top of the list, Old Head in Ireland. Favorite Place to Stay? The Hotel and the West Baden Hotel, both at French Lick Resort, are Mascaro favorites, as is the Sandestin Resort in Florida. And the “Most Interesting Person You’ve Played Golf With” is, for him, an easy answer: Having met Bob Jones IV during his round at East Lake, Chris now considers Bob one of his closest friends and an inspiring and deeply spiritual man.
A wonderful finale to an insightful podcast with one of our game’s best people, Chris Mascaro. Enjoy the connection.
—Words by Mitch Laurance