AUGUSTA, Ga. — Matt’s Bucket Brigade doesn’t exactly have the ring of Arnie’s Army. But it will have to do until something better comes along to rally a following for the most appealing working man’s player at the Masters in just about forever.

Prizefighters, not golfers, come from Brockton, Massachusetts. Tough guys with crooked noses come from that blue-collar Boston suburb. Not guys with swing planes to die for. Certainly not guys who wear pastels and white belts.

Brockton firefighter Matt Parziale, on leave now from Ladder Company 1, has joined the one percenters this week. He has gone from running into burning buildings to sweating over five-foot downhill, sidehill putts. That’s not a push.

The working stiff’s saga doesn’t end there. His caddie’s a firefighter, too, a former one, at least, who retired this winter. That would be his father, Vic, a 32-year veteran working the same precinct as his boy.

Firefighter dad will not be reading putts for firefighter Masters-playing son. “I read one in Hazeltine 2006 at the U.S. Am. He never asked me, but I said I think it’s going a foot-and-a-half to the right. He goes up and putts it and it goes a foot-and-a-half left and he makes it. He walks back and says, ‘Nice read,'” Vic said Monday.

“We have had a great time together,” Matt said of his relationship with his caddie. “He’s probably been doing it 15 years for me. We don’t really talk about golf out there, just other stuff. And we have a lot of fun.”


If a kitten was ever to get stuck up a tree at Augusta National, this would be the perfect week for it. Plenty of experienced help on hand.

Parziale, 30, was spending Monday night in the aerie at the Augusta National clubhouse known as the crow’s nest. It’s an attic space converted into living quarters especially for the amateurs. To make Parziale more comfortable, the club really should have installed a pole, on which he could slide down to work the next morning.

Don’t get the idea Parziale is some guy who just fell off a fire truck in front of Magnolia Lane.

He grew up hitting balls in a vacant field, with his father and grandfather shagging. As a teenager, he began working in the bag room at a local golf club, Thorny Lea Golf Club. Significantly, that is the club where Herbert Warren Wind, the scribe who coined the term “Amen Corner” for a famous stretch of the back nine at Augusta National, learned to play.

Pretty soon, the kid was playing better than the regulars. And Parziale went off to a small Christian college in Florida to play some golf. Then even made a run at playing for food, grinding on every mini-tour and every Monday qualifier that would have him between 2009-12. Growing tired of all the travel to get nowhere, he went for Plan B and joined the fire department in 2014.

“My dad never missed any hockey game I had, so I figured it was a good schedule for me to play competitive golf,” Parziale said of a fireman’s 24-hour on, 48-hour off shifts. “Being around the guys growing up, I always enjoyed going to the station and spending time with them. And I knew most of them before I got on, and it’s such a great group of guys.”


By winning the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship in October, Parziale qualified to play the Masters, the U.S. Open and the U.S. Amateur. They really treated him special back at the station after that win – five hours after returning from Atlanta, Parziale was back at work.

He has since taken a leave of absence from the fire department to prepare for this special spring and summer of golf. “Usually every house fire we go into, you leave a little banged up,” he said. He missed five months work after injuring a knee at the site of one fire. He just couldn’t risk that now.

Parziale is one of those Tiger Woods products, drawn to golf in 1997 when he was 11 and Woods ran roughshod over the field to win his first Masters. “I know he fell in love with Tiger Woods, that’s the drive for a lot of people his age,” he dad said.

There’s a chance he may play a practice round with Woods on Wednesday. “But he’s in high demand, so we’ll see if that happens,” Matt said.

The unusualness of the marriage between a firefighter and the Masters has meant Parziale has attracted far more attention here than your normal Mid-Am winner. He’s smiling all the way. “I’ve had fun with it. I enjoyed the stories, the video. It’s been long at times, but I never stopped enjoying it,” Matt said.

“I’m surprised he’s getting so much attention,” his dad said. “I guess people love firefighters.


“I’ll bet you no other firefighter has played in the Masters. I’d take that bet.”

Where Matt draws the line is setting himself up as some example for those who require proof there is room in golf for the everyman. Even though he is exactly that, a break from every country club cliche.

“That never comes into my mind,” he said. “I look at this game as if you put the effort in you can make what you want of it. Yeah, I just put a lot of work in to get here, so that’s all I see it as.

“I enjoy where I am,” he said. “I’m very fortunate to be able to do two things that I love doing – playing competitive golf and then have a career that I really do enjoy.”

And should he win the Masters, what a champions dinner it could be next year. The first ever catered by Firehouse Subs.

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