By David Droschak
Jack Massei began playing golf with his older brother Luke Massei on a 9-hole course carved into a New Hampshire mountainside.
“My brother and I would play all summer, or as long as the course was open, and it wasn’t open for long,” said the rising senior at Green Hope High School in Cary.
So Massei must have been thrilled as a fourth-grader when his father Matt Massei accepted the job as general manager of Prestonwood Country Club, correct?
“I was just excited to get out of the cold weather,” the younger Massei said.
Jack Massei was still playing other sports as a youngster, but soon gravitated to golf even though Luke was on his way to becoming a 3,000-yard passer for Green Hope.
“My dad never pushed me to do anything; all he did was give me an opportunity to play and I did all sports – basketball, soccer and golf — and golf is the one I decided to play. With my brother, my dad was 100 percent supportive in what he wanted to do and the same with me in golf. It just happened to be the business my dad was in.”
You’ll often see Matt Massei walking along the cart paths of junior events, the former director of golf at Pinehurst Resort offering a tip or two to his son, who has posted 13 top 10 finishes over the last two years and is now ranked the sixth-best junior in North Carolina.
At the time, Jack Massei didn’t realize that the warmer climate of the Tar Heel state would spur his golf development.
“Looking back now, there were really no tournaments in New Hampshire; junior golf isn’t nearly as big as it is here, so moving here gave me the opportunity to get better,” he said. “If I was in New Hampshire I likely wouldn’t be where I am now.”
Or playing as much golf. Few days pass without seeing Jack at Prestonwood, either on the course logging a round or at the practice range.
“I am at the club on average five days a week for 2-3 hours a day. That’s my home away from home,” he said.
Jack admits he was better at golf than the other sports, but that’s not the allure for him.
“With golf you can go out one day and shoot 67 and go out the next day and shoot 80,” he said. “You never can really master it; there is always room for improvement. There are always new people and everybody at the start of the week has a chance.”
Like Jack at the 2015 North Carolina Junior Championship.
“I had never played in a match play event and I was ranked something like 120th and went out and won the thing when my goal was just to make it to match play. Anyone can win,” he said.
Jack said he’ll play college golf in the fall of 2018 for newly appointed coach Andrew Sapp, who led the North Carolina Tar Heels for six seasons before landing at East Carolina in mid July.
“I’m really excited to work with coach Sapp,” Jack said. “He didn’t recruit me at East Carolina but I visited UNC one or two times when coach Sapp was there so we already had a little bit of a relationship. So it works for both of us.”
Honors: Three-year first team all-conference; third in 2017 4-A state championship.
2017 Victories: Medalist for U.S. Junior Local Qualifier.
Best Round: Shot 68 in the final round of the 2015 Dogwood after two rounds of even par that produced runner-up finish.
Magic Moment: Winning the 2015 North Carolina Junior Boys in front of my mom and dad. “It was kind of surreal because going into the week I wasn’t expecting much, so if I just got into match play I would have gone home with a smile from ear-to-ear and to go out and win it was special.”
Goals: “To improve game and scoring average, just become a more complete golfer with a better mental game. I am going to try and give pro golf a chance; at least give it one go-around since I’ve spent the last 8-9 years practicing and playing every day. It’s definitely a dream of mine.”