The sweet song of Branford

Thursday, January 27, 2011

One thing that never amazes me is how golf touches so many people in so many different professions across this life. Visitors to the PGA Show were greeted by some sweet notes played by world-renowned saxophonist Branford Marsalis, who is a self-proclaimed golf nut.

Marsalis, a three-time Grammy winner, says he plays about 40 rounds a year, or about half the rounds played by his talented jazz pianist, Joey Calderazzo, who was with him at the Orange County Convention Center.

“We don’t play trade shows,” he said, smiling, “but we’re avid golfers. “I met Dan Baker (from the PGA of America) at the airport in Raleigh (N.C.), and we’ve been back and forth (e-mailing), and he asked me if I’d come here and play. So I said, ‘You don’t have to pay me. We’ll do it for some swag.’”

He laughed. So on Wednesday he got fitted for some new TaylorMade clubs, and Thursday morning, shortly after making his way around the Show floor, he was headed off to try them out on a local course.

Marsalis plays to a 10 handicap; Calderazzo is a 7. Asked to name the coolest place he’s played golf, Marsalis named two (by the same designer, no less): Augusta National and Royal Melbourne. He once shot 81 at Augusta.

“I made a lot of money from my guys that day,” he said.

Music gives him a platform to be creative, and so does golf.

“I have about five or six boring holes, meaning fairway, green, two-putt, and the rest is all creativity – behind the trees, in the trap, on the edge of the water ... I’m perpetually attempting a certain level of creativity when I’m on the golf course. I like that.”