Matt Mezzano grew up playing baseball in North Haven, but decided to make a move and join the Indians’ golf squad as a junior. Fortunately, Matt had gained some experience on the links when he was younger, and so the sport wasn’t completely new to him. After making his debut last spring, Matt is off to a great start in his senior season as he’s twice earned medalist honors by posting the low score in North Haven’s first two matches, which were both victories.
“I took golf lessons when I was younger. I don’t remember much of it, but my parents say I was interested in it,” Matt says. “I knew a lot of the basics of the swing, but I didn’t know much about the etiquette or the finer detail rules like marking your ball on the green. But I did know the basics of the swing and how to line up shots, so that helped me start. It gave me a base of somewhere to pull from.”
Matt wasn’t planning to go out for the golf team during his junior year at North Haven High School. It was a matter of chance that led Matt to attend a preseason meeting and then try out for the Indians.
“It was actually a funny story. I was supposed to give a friend a ride home from school and went to the golf meeting with him,” says Matt. “After that, I ended up at tryouts.”
North Haven Head Coach Daria Cummings is certainly glad that Matt decided to come aboard. Cummings saw Matt’s potential on the golf course from the second he started, and now she’s seeing Matt realize that potential this spring. Matt shot a 43 in the Indians’ season-opening victory over East Haven and then came back with a 45 when they beat Career last week.
“I could tell he was a good athlete. We started working on his game and he could bomb the ball,” says Cummings. “He’s playing really good golf for somebody that has been playing tournament golf for only one year.”
Even with his previous experience, Matt says it took some time to get used to the high school golf game. However, Matt put in the work and studied to sport to become the golfer that he is today.
“At the beginning, it definitely wasn’t easy. I had to pick up on the new stuff and change from a baseball swing to a golf swing,” says Matt. “When I had bad rounds, I would go home and think, do some drills, and practice. I definitely have seen improvement and coach has helped me a lot. She lent me clubs and did a swing analysis. I also started to see a pro at Tashua Knolls and he’s been a big help.”
While the two sports are vastly different, Matt says that his experience in baseball has helped his golf swing. Matt feels pretty comfortable with most clubs in his hand, but the closer he gets to the green, the easier the game becomes for him.
“Baseball taught me to use my hips to power through the ball. It comes from using my lower body, instead of just swinging with my upper body,” he says. “I definitely feel most comfortable hitting low irons and wedges. I’ve had more experience with them because that’s what I use when I’m approaching greens. The closer to the green, the shorter the irons, which makes it easier for me.”
Matt has really taken a liking to putting when it comes to being on the green. He developed a keen eye on that portion of the course while caddying for Cummings last summer—an experience that taught Matt a ton about the sport.
“That was my first time caddying. It helped me a lot,” says Matt. “I was able to see a lot of pro golfers, and what amazed me was they didn’t act like they were shooting great, getting mad after shots. But at the end, they still had great scores.”
Matt isn’t a captain for the Indians, but he still took on a big role with the team’s fundraising efforts, and helped North Haven get more driving range time at Wallingford Country Club. One of the things that Matt likes the most about golf is that it’s a sport he can play long beyond his days in high school.
“A lot of other sports are physically demanding with running, but golf can be a thing you go to with friends or on a business meeting,” says Matt. “It’s nostalgic. I’ve seen older people playing and everyone enjoys it. I have friends that don’t play competitively that ask me to play at the local course.”