It's time for another Team Titleist member spotlight, and in our latest Q&A, we're proud to welcome John Marra (John M on the boards), a devoted golfer who brightens any foursome with his humorous stories, wide-ranging knowledge and gracious personality.
Golf is a family affair for John, who with his four brothers was introduced to the game by his father. The Marra boys still get together every year for golf get-aways and John has since passed his love of the game on to his son, Peter.
We first met John in the early spring of 2015, when he was chosen as one of the TT cast members for our inaugural WhereAbouts series. That first year, we traveled to Augusta, Georgia, not to cover the year's first major, but to find out what golf is like there the 51 other weeks of the year that The Masters doesn't take center stage.
John, a former New Yorker who moved to Aiken, South Carolina in 1987, provided just the right perspective on what is different about playing golf in that special corner of the golf world and what aspects are universal.
Click here if you haven't seen WhereAbouts: Augusta.
And for more of John, check out our follow-up video, which opens with John's swing in all its slow-motion glory.
In the meantime, pull up a chair and get to know John a bit better as he shares some of his golf life with all of Team Titleist.
What are your earliest golf memories?
Like many others, my dad introduced my brothers and myself to the game. As the 4th of 5 boys, I always wanted to do what my older brothers were doing and we all started hitting wiffle balls around the yard with cut-off clubs. I think I was about 4 or 5 years old when I broke a window at my grandparents house. I don’t remember getting yelled at; it must’ve been a good shot!
As we got older, my mom would drop us off at a local par 3 course and we’d play all day. As we improved, we’d ‘graduate’ to Dad’s course and ultimately, we’d get to play with Dad. Dad’s rules were pretty simple: respect the game and the course, play the ball as it lies, enjoy the walk and keep up -- Dad played fast and he always walked (right up until his last year with us!)
John (right) with his son, Peter at The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Resort.
What's the most special moment you've ever had on the golf course?
I have several starting with playing with my Dad when he made his first hole in one. I was home from college for the summer and Dad and I were playing an evening round at Chautauqua Golf Club. I hit my tee shot on the par-3 12th to about 3 feet and turned to dad and said, ‘Get it inside that, old man!’ He proceeded to knock it in the hole for his first ace in a lifetime of golf.
The story continues about 30 years later when I was playing a round with my son Peter at Palmetto Golf Club in Aiken, SC. He hit his tee shot on the par-3 7th hole close and gave me a sly little grin. Well, I proceeded to knock it into the hole for my first ace, much like the scene with my Dad.
Fast forward a few years and I was caddying for Peter at the Palmetto Amateur. After a couple of so-so rounds, he pured a 9-iron on the par-3 11th hole. His Pro V1x hit about two feet past the hole and spun back in for his first ace.
Those three memories - me seeing my Dad’s first ace, Peter seeing mine, and me seeing his kind of ‘completes the circle’ for me.
What's your best score and where did you shoot it?
I’ve never broken par on any course, even Putt-Putt. I think my best 18 hole score was probably 75 or 76 at our hometown course, Maplehurst Country Club in Lakewood, NY.
How often are you thinking about your golf game and getting better? What are you currently working on?
I think about golf a lot, but honestly, I know that my best scores are behind me. If anything, I’d like to work on consistency in my short game.
What Titleist golf ball model do play and why?
I play a Pro V1 as I appreciate the spin and softness around the greens. I mark it with two small dots on each side of the play number. I’ve always done it that way; simple.
What's your favorite Titleist club in the bag? Why?
I always like my Titleist driver. There's no better feeling than a well struck drive and the new TS2 is just plain fast and forgiving!
Do you consider yourself a tinkerer? How often do you change equipment?
I’m not so much a tinkerer as I am an ‘early adopter.’ I usually have the current iteration of the latest Titleist equipment in my bag. I appreciate Titleist’s two year product cycles as it's predictable and a new release is more than just a marketing ploy - it represents the product of real R&D and innovation.
The green of the 464-yard, par-5 6th hole (right) and the tee/green of the 158-yard, par-3 7th hole at Palmetto GC (left).
If you had to play one golf course every day for the rest of your life, which one would it be?
Definitely my home club, Palmetto Golf Club in Aiken, SC. It’s a classic, founded in 1892 and one of the oldest clubs in the country. Even though I’ve played it over a thousand times, it always gives you a new challenge. It’s also simply a ‘golf club’ with few trappings. Most of us walk and an average round is less than 4 hours.
How long have you been a member of Team Titleist? What are some of your favorite features of the community and what kind of things would you like to see in the future?
I’ve been a Team Titleist member since nearly the beginning. It’s a community of golfers with a devotion to Titleist equipment and the game. I enjoy the dialog on the forums and seeing how others set up their bags, etc. I haven’t as yet participated in one of the annual invitationals, but it’s definitely on the bucket list for me. I think the TT Staff does an awesome job and I wouldn’t change a thing.
Have any on-course superstitions, rituals?
Every shot is proceeded by two waggles, no practice swings. Just two waggles. If the routine gets interrupted, I’ll step out and start again.
John and the Marra family at Bandon Dunes.
Favorite golf destination?
My brothers and I have been lucky to take a few epic trips together and we recently traveled to Bandon Dunes for my brother Tom’s 60th birthday. It was an epic trip in an epic place and I recommend it to anybody who loves the game. It’s pure golf and next level stuff.
We also have an annual Myrtle Beach Trip the weekend before Thanksgiving with our sons and a few high school buddies. Three days of golf and football, it doesn’t get much better!
Favorite golf book?
Final Rounds by James Dodson. It’s a story about fathers, sons, and the bonds of golf. Golf is the glue that binds my brothers and I together and it’s a central part of any of our gatherings. It keeps us linked to Dad even though he’s been gone for over 20 years. All of us feel his presence every time we tee it up.
Favorite golf movie?
Caddyshack, without a doubt. I can still here my Dad’s laugh when I watch it.
WHAT’S IN JOHN MARRA’S BAG
Golf Ball: Titleist Pro V1
Driver: Titleist TS2 9.5° w/ Kuro Kage Black Dual Core 50 shaft, regular flex, A•1 SureFit hosel setting
Fairway: Titleist TS2 18° w/ Kuro Kage Black Dual Core 50 shaft, regular flex, A•1 SureFit hosel setting
Hybrid: Titleist 818 H1 (21° and 25°) w/ Tensei Red shafts, regular flex
Irons: Titleist 718 AP1 (5-GW) w/ AMT Red Steel shafts, regular flex
Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design SM7 Blackout 52.12 F-grind, 56.10 S-grind and 60.04 L-grind
Putter: Scotty Cameron Concept X
Thank you, John!