Long drive champ
Clayton Valley senior, Domenic Mazza shows great talent in golf and baseball.
Photography by Joe Budd
It’s truly mind-bending to watch Domenic Mazza hit a golf ball. He takes a sweeping swing, unleashes every ounce of his wiry, six-foot-one-inch frame into the moment of impact, and sends the ball soaring into the sky.
Mazza, a baby-faced, broad-shouldered senior at Clayton Valley High in Concord, understands—sort of—how he launches shots so staggeringly far. “I’m stronger in my left hand, so that probably helps me pull through the ball faster,” he says. “I know I get into a good position in my swing, which helps create a lot of power. But I don’t know. I normally just swing, and it goes far.”
Mazza, 17, is one of the favorites entering this month’s World Long Drive Championship in Nevada. Last year, he emerged improbably from the crowd—more than 5,000 players from 14 countries tried to qualify—to finish second. He crushed one drive 436 yards (in a qualifying round) and another 404 yards (in the quarterfinals).
Dave DeLong, head instructor at Boundary Oak in Walnut Creek and Mazza’s coach, says the kid’s power comes from his extraordinary leverage, torque, and club-head speed (about 145 mph, better than most PGA Tour pros).
But here’s the thing: His long-term future rests in baseball, not golf. As a pitcher (he throws left-handed and swings a golf club right-handed), Mazza gracefully zips fastballs across home plate and freezes hitters with hypnotic curveballs. He plans to pursue a baseball career in college, and many schools, including UC Berkeley and Stanford, have expressed interest. Until then, he is consumed with obliterating golf balls.