Credit a chat with Rush Limbaugh for golf talk on Sacramento radio every Saturday morning for the past 18 years.
Credit the thing that Limbaugh loves to rail about these days a sluggish economy for golf talk going away.
"Golf Talk," the weekly show on KHTK (1140) that Vince Mastracco created after a chance encounter with Limbaugh at a cocktail party in the early 1990s and has hosted and produced since, will take its final swing Dec. 22.
"My joke has been we were always one colon-cleanser infomercial away from getting canceled," Mastracco said. "I just hope my joke doesn't become a prophecy."
Mastracco wasn't much of a golfer or golf fan when he was developing "Golf Talk," but that soon changed. The result is almost 1,000 shows that brought listeners up close to some of the biggest names in golf and all the local up-and-comers.
His folksy delivery and off-the-cuff style made for easy listening every Saturday at 8 a.m. Hearing him once try to spell Sevillano Links, one of his sponsors and good-naturedly giving up after failing miserably illustrated Mastracco's self-deprecating charm.
"I'm not a golfing blue blood," the graduate of now-defunct La Sierra High School said, "but I fell deeply in love with the sport. It just grabbed a hold of me."
Mastracco owned an advertising agency when he started "Golf Talk" and sells real estate now. His attempt to syndicate the show failed, and while "Golf Talk" didn't pad his wallet, it provided him a creative outlet.
Mastracco hasn't missed more than a couple of shows a year, the exception being in 2009 when he had a summer of chemotherapy to fight off breast cancer "My health is good, so far as we know," he said. Co-hosts over the years Walter Hix III, Bruce Kaiser and Brett Taylor filled in when he was out.
Mastracco said he hasn't given thought to any final words he might say when he signs off for good next Saturday during a remote at Haggin Oaks, but he agreed to answer a few questions in the interim.
You've been on the radio nearly every Saturday for more than 18 years that's almost 1,000 shows. After Dec. 22, will we have heard the last of Vince Mastracco talking golf?
I really hope not. I just feel like the last three or four years of the show, we've really learned how to do it right. We'll see where things take us. In one moment, it feels like something is going away. In another moment, I feel like there's something else going on out there. I'm just not ready to leave golf yet.
You've said that your weekly time commitment for sales, preparation, securing guests and air time averages 12 to 16 hours. What percentage is work and what percentage is fun?
The minute they turn the microphone on, it's all fun. The business side of it, it's still work and it's a job.
How did "Golf Talk" come to be?
Of all crazy things, I was at a cocktail party for a radio station where Rush Limbaugh was. We had a brief conversation about the emerging importance of talk radio. I went away thinking I'm going to start a show. I had about three shows in mind, one of which was a tennis show, except that the tennis market really began to tank around that time. It took me about two years to get a show on the air. By the time I got it on the air, I realized how hard it was and it was my vision, so I needed to do it.
Who were your most memorable interviews?
The first big interview we did was Gary Player. I was given Gary's home number and called him in his den in South Africa. That was the coolest thing. I did two interviews with Gene Sarazen before he passed. One was during the opening of Diablo Grande. While Jack Nicklaus was giving a clinic at the range (Sarazen and Nicklaus were the course's designers), I went into the clubhouse and started knocking on doors until somebody said, 'Come in.' It was Gene Sarazen. By then he was 92. I asked him if I could do an interview. He said, 'Sure, let's talk.' While everybody else was watching the clinic, I had a one-on-one with Gene Sarazen.
What will you do with your newfound free time?
I'm going to make myself available for some Saturday morning tee times.