Pat Wheeler

LEWISVILLE — It was a crowded table in the clubhouse at The Lakes at Castle Hills, an upscale golf club just to the north of Dallas, built on what once the farm of Bum Bright, former owner of the Dallas Cowboys. Definitely a family affair, Tyler’s Bobby Massa was surrounded by older brother Cody, mom Mardi Penn and her mom, Diane Jackman.

Three generations of the Massa family were enjoying a meal and a cool respite from the heat Friday afternoon at the Bright Realty Texas State Open. The banter was friendly and flowing easily. A young and rising professional golfer, Massa had already “processed” his unusual second round that showcased both his raw talent and a nagging inconsistency that he determined to remedy.

After a lackluster opening round of even par 72, Massa blitzed the Jay Morrish designed Castle Hills layout with a barrage of birdies and an eagle that had created a little buzz. The only problem was that his round ended with a double bogey 6 on a relatively easy par-4.

Welcome to the world of competitive golf where a budding touring pro is tested in every capacity — physically, mentally and emotionally. And so Massa grinned as he spoke of the good, the bad and the ugly.

“Honestly, my putting was good today,” Massa said. “I got up and down quite a few times because I still wasn’t hitting the ball very well and it put me in some tough spots. That finally caught up with me on the last hole when I made a double.”

The eagle that had people talking was an example of the amazing power that Massa wields with his driver. A new back tee was added to the par-5 fourth hole, making an already long hole even longer. A creek running just in front of the green forces most of the field to lay up with their second shots. But not Massa, who regularly hits his drives in the vicinity of 350 yards. Instead, Massa hit driver and a 5-iron to a difficult pin location and drained the putt for an eagle.

Playing as his 13th hole on Friday since he began his round at the 10th hole, Massa followed up the eagle with three more birdies to reach 8-under par with only a par needed on his last hole to set a new course record. Then the ugly part hit with the double bogey and that’s what has Massa scratching his head and working hard on his game to improve.

“My short game has always been my strength because I know what to do around the greens,” Massa said, “I just need to learn how to hit it more consistently and I’ll be OK.”

With the post round analysis out of the way, the conversation returned to a lighter mood with talk of his sibling rivalry with older by two years, Cody, who is also a good golfer but barely missed the cut by one stroke at the State Open.

“We had a little gold trophy that went back and forth depending on who won,” Massa’s mother Mardi said.

“But we play terrible when we play together,” Cody Massa said. “It doesn’t matter the format, best ball or scramble, we don’t play well together.”

The two brothers grew up in Grand Prairie but attended Irving High School. Bobby played golf in high school and then at UT Arlington. Now a strapping 6-foot-1 and 185 pounds with a 33-inch waist and muscular arms, Bobby said he was tiny until his junior year in high school. He began to grow and began to lift weights.

“I just got tired of being little,” Massa said. “I like to work out and if I weren’t a professional golfer, I would be a physical trainer. I know there is a limit to how big you want to get, but I think if you eat lean and don’t get too big, you will be all right as long as you stay flexible.”

A couple of feats demonstrate his athleticism. Massa once dunked a basketball from a standing position and has bench pressed over 300 pounds. With that in mind, it is no surprise that his drives sail 350 yards and that some have started calling him “Bobby Mash-it.”

Now 25 and with more than a year’s experience on the Adams Pro Series tour, Massa knows winning requires much more than the long ball. To compete and win at the professional level, a complete game with consistent results is needed and Massa is willing to work toward that goal.

“I just definitely need to be more consistent,” Massa said. “I have to put more than three rounds together. It is important to put four rounds together to win. I have been able to put three good ones together but not four. I want to be more consistent with my ball striking and I’ll be there.”

Massa has yet to win on the Adams Tour but has three third-place finishes and two of those were just one shot out of first.

“He wants it real badly,” Mardi said. “I think this year, since late January, he has only taken one day off from golf.”

Massa agrees with his mother but said it is part of the improvement process that includes lots of practice at The Cascades in Tyler.

“I am tired (from all of the golf) but it is more mentally draining than physically. I just want to get better so badly. Like even when I have days off, I don’t take off but I probably should.

“The Cascades has really done a lot for me. I really like it because it a great place to practice. Cody was an assistant pro there six years ago. We have been going out there to play since 2004.”

Just the day before, on Thursday, Massa had a chance encounter in the parking lot with his opponent in the showdown for first place the week before at the East Texas Open in Center. On his way home after a first-round of 68 in the morning was Clark Dennis, the 47-year-old former touring pro from Fort Worth who is honing his game for a run at the Champions Tour in a few years.

There was the customary kidding and inquiring about the course as the two men briefly visited. Massa was on his way to prepare for an afternoon round in the scorching Texas sun.

It had only been about four days since they had battled down the stretch on the short and tricky Center course with Dennis prevailing by two shots in the end. Dennis had earned his win with an almost flawless final round of 66.

As they parted, Dennis called out, “let’s do it again this Sunday.”

Without missing a beat, Massa replied, “and let’s hope it turns out differently.”

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