McDonough talks and plays a great game

Posted in Golf Writers Column, Molori Unplugged by on July 9th, 2012

From his years in the Red Sox broadcast booth to his time as the top baseball voice at CBS to his current work at ESPN, Sean McDonough is at or near the top of any list of sports play-by-play announcers. Similarly, golf has always been at or near the top of McDonough’s list.

“My dad (the late and legendary Boston Globe writer Will McDonough) really started getting addicted golf when he turned 50. He was very competitive, and so am I. Golf holds a special place in my heart because of dad. He died at 67, so a lot of the time we spent together over the last 17 years of his life was on the golf course.”

McDonough, who turned 50, himself, this year, is approaching three decades in broadcasting, but it was his early media career that brought him closer to golf. “When I got the Red Sox TV job in 1988, Channel 38 general manager Dan Berkery told me that I should get more into golf so I could go out and play with advertisers. He was a member at Woodland Golf Club in Auburndale. Dan had 10 kids so we really wore out that course. I ended up joining myself.” For McDonough, working in sports media has basically been a license to golf. “You could really play in 2 or 3 charity events every week,” he relates. “It’s just a great way to get out there and meet people. It allows me to be more visible and help out so many great causes.”

A decade ago, McDonough decided to take a more active role in helping those in need. He established The Sean McDonough Charitable Foundation (, an organization that provides needed funds to deserving children’s charities in Massachusetts. McDonough emulated the charitable work done in Rhode Island by golf legends Billy Andrade and Brad Faxon. “We’ve raised over $2.7 million for various charities over the past ten years,” says the 1984 Syracuse grad. “And our golf tournament is a big part of what we do. It is so gratifying to have friends who are willing to help.”

When he is not on the road calling ESPN college football, basketball or Major League Baseball, Mc- Donough plays at Boston Golf Club (BGC) in Hingham, MA where he is a member and Chairman of the Membership Committee. “It is such a great course,” says McDonough. “Tom Brady, Sr. played there and told me it was one of the top 3 courses he has ever played in the world. He is now a National Member.”

McDonough is no stranger to amazing courses, and his success has given him the chance to live a golfer’s dream. He explains, “When CBS was trying to hire me full-tim e, they took me to Augusta. It was like a recruiting trip. I played with Dan Jansen, the Olympic speed skater, and both of us were shaking like a leaf as we stepped to the tee. “I’ve played Pine Valley and Pebble Beach, but my favorite has to be Oakmont. It is a world class course, but there is a regular-guy feel to it. My dad and talked about playing in Scotland and Ireland just before he passed away, so that remains a gap in my golf life.” Having covered numerous sports at the highest levels, McDonough is in a unique position to put golf in perspective. He states, “You don’t have to be a great athlete to be great at golf. I know so many amazing athletes who are not good golfers, and it works both ways. A good friend of mine is a National Member at Oakmont and has won the club championship 7 times. He is not a great athlete, but he is an amazing golfer.”

Depending on his ESPN schedule, McDonough tries to play two or three times a week these days, and he sees the intrinsic value of a day on the course. “At BGC, I always play a round with prospective members. You can learn a lot about people on the golf course, whether they will be nice to our staff and what level of sportsmanship they possess. Golf shows you how people respond to situations. The game really says a lot about a person’s character.”

John Molori is the co-author of The Cracker Jack Collection: Baseball’s Prized Players to be released in the fall of 2013. Email John at

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