Keeping up their short game

Rhonda Dredge

Not everyone is suffering during the city’s fifth lockdown, particularly two golfers whose short game has prospered.

Robert and John Massina have an advantage of an address in Vale St, East Melbourne.

Their block of flats is opposite the rather empty grounds of the MCG.

There’s not much happening at the sports ground at the moment so there is no-one to put them off their game.

The enterprising brothers confiscate some parkland on a daily basis to practice chipping and pitching.

Mondays are better than weekends when there are too many dogs around.

“We just chip to 15 metres and go a bit longer to keep the feel,” Robert explained. “If you go out after six months and you’re not playing you lose the feel. The short game is what you lose first.”

He said the “chipping around” is very beneficial. “When you get back to golf you’ve improved out of sight.”

Macho players hit as hard as they could, he said. A short game doesn’t usually impress anyone.

“In a par four you should be on in two. When you’re older you hit into the bunker, so you have to hone this part of the game.”

The pair are quite chipper about the benefits of their practice, one hour a day between the trees in front of their place.

“The lies are very good, but the surface is pretty rough,” they said.

A little sibling rivalry doesn’t go astray with Robert, the younger, hitting off with a handicap of 10, his older brother off 18. They are members of Sorrento and Commonwealth.

“He’s a good player,” John said. “Robert was Sorrento club champion in 2005.”

The brothers used to run a printing business and sold it three years ago. “We got out just in time.”

They’ve been living in the apartment block for 28 years where they care for their 95-year-old mum.

“I have to be very careful,” Robert said. “There’s a problem with the supermarkets. I shop in South Yarra or Toorak. You have to get there early. People are hanging around instead of getting in and out.”

John favours the Singaporean system of managing the virus. “They allow a few cases a day but not crowds at sporting events.” •

Caption: Robert (left) and John Massina exercising in front of the quiet grounds of the MCG.

Caption: Robert (left) practices a shot while John looks on.

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