Golf looks like a pretty independent sport if you only see it on TV. As hushed tones fall over the course, focus turns to just a singular golfer in that moment.
Of course, they will also chat with their caddy, but that’s about it.
If you ask someone like Jason Mattaini about the game, however, he’ll tell you the exact opposite. In fact, without the lessons golf has taught him, he may not be where he is today.
“Golf is a very social game,” says Jason. “It’s something you can play with your friends, your spouse or significant other. Now that I’m older, I can look back at what golf taught me: the interactions at a very early age, being friendly, to make eye contact and how to be in social settings. It all spills over into my job.”
Jason began playing golf around the age of five. He says he wasn’t forced into it, but his parents did keep it in front of him as he bounced around different sports.
He credits golf with teaching him discipline, focus, integrity and punctuality. Missing your tee time means no golf, after all. Jason ended up realizing his potential at the sport some years later.
“I guess as I got older, I realized what golf really had to offer,” Jason remarks. “When I was about 13, I realized I could probably have my education paid beyond high school. And, this was Pre-Tiger in the mid-80s, so you were pretty much a dork if you played golf.”
The Chargers have had a great golf program throughout the years, and it was there Jason honed his skills. His crowning achievement was winning the AAA State Championship in his senior year after shooting a 6-over-par 150 over two days at Fort Lewis.
Jason earned offers from multiple Division-1 programs. Though he was intrigued by the thought of playing at the sunny University of Southern California campus, he fell in love with the Eugene Country Club and the University of Oregon.
When he arrived on campus his freshman year, he stayed in the athletic dorms. His roommates happened to be two defensive backs on the football team, one of which was (Huskies fans: look away) Kenny Wheaton, the orchestrator of “The Pick.”
“They were shocked we had a golf team,” laughed Jason. “When I showed up with my golf bag, they were like ‘who the hell is this guy?’ To this day I still talk to all those guys. It was a good group of kids at that time. I feel like I was a part of something big there. I’m proud to be a Duck.”
While at the University of Oregon, Jason played in several collegiate golf tournaments across the United States. He was teammates with six-time PGA Tour winner Ben Crane and they remain friends today.
One common opponent was a young Tiger Woods who happened to be attending Stanford University at that same time. They played three times total while Jason was at Oregon. He’d also played against him twice in junior tournaments.
Other future PGA golfers he played rounds with included Charlie Hoffman, Matt Kuchar, Luke Donald, Pat Perez, Charles Howell III, Paul Casey, Notah Begay, Casey Martin and Rory Sabbatini.
Now, Jason oversees the casino host program at Muckleshoot Casino. He calls his team his lifeline. As part of their role, they create memorable events for guests. One of his favorites ties directly into his passion for golf.
“This year will be the 10th anniversary of our Muckleshoot guest golf tournament,” said Jason. “It’s grown in popularity so much that now there’s a waiting list. Guests love it and it’s pretty hard to beat that.”
Through golf, Muckleshoot Casino has also forged a strong relationship with the Folds of Honor Foundation, a non-profit which provides academic scholarships to children in military families. Each year, the Muckleshoot Casino Washington Open Invitational is held in benefit of the foundation.
Away from the casino, Jason is still a huge sports fan and catches an episode or two of Seinfeld when he can. He also enjoys Cadillacs and has taken in a ton of rap concerts in his life.
“A lot of people don’t know that I’m a music guy,” Jason continued. “Right now, I listen to a lot of Future, but I’m a real old-school rap guy. I’ve probably been to over 300 rap concerts. If I had to take TV or music, I’d take my music.”