Photo By: Dom Furore
Former Golf Digest colleagues reflect on one of the giants of golf journalism
Tim Rosaforte’s death at age 66 due to complications from Alzheimer’s Disease will reverberate throughout the golf world, where he was beloved by players, reporters and golf fans. As a senior writer at Golf Digest and sister publication Golf World for more than 20 years, Tim’s pioneering work and gentle spirit left a singular imprint on his colleagues. Below we’ve shared some reflections on one of the giants of our brand—and our game.
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The image I hold of Tim is arriving at the press centre in the morning with his freshly pressed suit and tie on a hanger and a broad smile on his face. Nobody loved what he did more than Tim Rosaforte.
There was also a vulnerability in Tim’s demeanour that’s so rare among “TV people.” He had a touch of uncertainty about himself that was endearing and believable. I think it had to do with his years at a weekly sports magazine, getting put through the grinder of the editing process. It made him empathetic to the struggles we all have in work and life.
Everybody trusted Tim. It’s why he had everybody’s cell number and everybody called him back. You knew he was going to give you a fair shake. And when he got the unfairest shake of all, he still met life with a smile on his face and gratefulness in his heart. —Jerry Tarde
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When I first started working at Golf Digest, of course all my friends and family asked if I knew Tim Rosaforte. He was the ubiquitous face of the magazine on TV as well as our prolific columnist. All I could tell them was that “Rosie” existed in a different orbit. The editors and writers I worked with sat at desk computers, dressed ready to hightail it out of the office should a golf game break out. Tim wore perfectly fitted suits with poppy ties and travelled in another world.
The first time I met Tim was at my first PGA Tour event. He was walking smartly from one appointment to the next as I was loitering by the practice putting green bedraggled with a notebook and backpack. I was astonished as he pulled not one, not two, but three cellphones from the inner breast pockets of his blazer. This was the era of Blackberries and flip-phones, so not insignificant cargo as far as bulk. “These are my tools,” he told me. “Never be without your tools.” A point he was trying to impress was, he’d noticed my writing style but believed I could do more as a reporter. He couldn’t have been more right. I hung with him some more that week and could hardly believe all the pros who texted him first. He had built up unrivalled trust by knowing which scoops to sit on.
A former football player, I bet he was the guy who could command a huddle with a whisper. Every word Tim said you hung on, and he always had an encouraging few for the young guys on the staff. I was lucky to eventually get to know Tim much better, and I’ll try to perpetuate his many lessons to the next generation of writers. —Max Adler
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A story about Tim Rosaforte being kind to a young person in golf is on its own pretty unremarkable because Tim was kind to so many people in golf. There was a time when he had little incentive to do so that he was incredibly kind to me.
The setting was the 1997 Walker Cup at Quaker Ridge Golf Club in Scarsdale, N.Y. I was 22 and covering the event for the local newspaper, and Tim was there for Golf World. In his never-ending search for nuggets of information, Tim read a story I wrote and apparently liked it enough to walk up and introduce himself. A friendship was born. We learned we had grown up near one another and that at one point we both had the same gruff newspaper editor. For years after, Tim would send me notes with either compliments or story ideas; when a job opportunity opened at Golf Digest, I breathlessly called Tim asking for his help. He cut me off. “I already spoke to them,” he said.
I don’t know if Tim was the sole reason I got the job, but he was one of the main reasons I was encouraged to pursue a career in golf journalism. He was my first great mentor, a model for how to navigate the golf world with kindness and grace. —Sam Weinman
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Contrary to what you might believe in this day of talking heads, those in print journalism do not naturally transition to television, not without losing or literally throwing away—in ways small and sometimes grotesque—the skills and attitudes that made them admirable in their original journalistic pursuit. As I observed Tim Rosaforte’s easy nature on the small screen from afar, what struck me most was how unchanged not only his abilities to cultivate sources and tell stories were, but so too, more impressively, his demeanour. If there was a simple way to describe his craft, it wasn’t getting scoops, it was giving them. Rosie shared, whether it was a profile of a particular player, breaking news of a coach’s insight before a final round or an open invitation for a round of golf at any club in South Florida, where he always seemed to have an in. But personally, even though I knew he was such a deservedly large figure in the small world of golf journalism, Rosie never wavered in our personal dealings from making me feel like I was the one with all the knowledge and he was the one who wanted to learn more. It’s that genuine inquisitiveness, always with a smile that was boyish despite his shaved head, that obviously made him such a trusted writer among a collection of sources that was unrivaled. But as someone who’s never been particularly comfortable on the video side of this job, Rosie’s easy nature always found a way to lighten my anxiety those times our paths crossed at Golf Channel or similar segments across the years. He once told me, less than a minute before going live, “Remember, you know what you know. That’s a lot. Just talk about what you know. Do you.” Then, that grin, and everything after that was easy. He was unfailingly honest, generous, encouraging. That’s how I’ll remember him because that’s who he was. —Mike Stachura
My first job in golf media was as a reporter/fact-checker for Sports Illustrated’s then-new Golf Plus section. Tim was new, too—not to golf journalism, but to SI. He had just been hired to write many of the game and industry stories that packed the Tiger-fattened weekly special section. We were both on the biggest stage for the first time, and we became fast friends and allies navigating SI’s notoriously cutthroat political landscape. Tim was a relentless and meticulous reporter with an enormous collection of sources. My job was to make sure his copy made it through SI’s protracted editing process with his carefully reported facts still in place—so he could maintain the trust of those sources. He didn’t have to spend the extra time teaching a relative beginner the art (and hard labor) of building relationships, finding the real story and telling the truth, but to know Tim was to be the beneficiary of his motiveless generosity and legendarily straight shooting. It was an honour to be on the same masthead with him for more than 20 years. —Matthew Rudy
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I first met Tim at the 1988 Masters and first played golf with him at The Belfry in England the Monday after the 1993 Ryder Cup. He set up the tee time. It was one of the many ways Tim shared his bountiful contacts in the world of golf. From the beginning, Rosie made it easy to get to know him because of the gentle, gracious way he interacted with people. He invited you into his world and generously shared what he knew and who he knew. When we started working together at Golf Digest and Golf World in 1998, my appreciation of that giving nature in Tim only deepened. As a journalistic colleague, he played the game the same way he played college football—as a true teammate.
Rosie and I had another bond right off the bat. I always viewed myself as more of a reporter than a writer and the same was true for Tim. The part of journalism he loved was gathering information, finding out the why and the how of something or somebody. Few were as good at it as Tim. His phone contained everyone’s number and because he never burned anyone by betraying their confidence or by misrepresenting what they said, everyone always called him back. And that’s the bottom line. Rosie was so good at what he did because of the respectful way he treated people. In a time of tremendous change in the news business, Tim Rosaforte was one of the people who gave journalism a good name. —Ron Sirak
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Tim was a football linebacker in college, which starts to explain how he became the best at what I call “high testosterone” golf writers. He transferred some of the brash writing and TV reporting styles you see in more physical sports to golf. He viewed the game as athletes and fans of other sports would. Tim’s golf takes were peppered with phrases like, “needs to step up,” “gut check,” “prime-time player” and “close the deal.” Courses like Oakmont he called, “big ballparks.” Tim’s approach seeped into the styles of other writers, young ones at the outset of the digital age especially. It was a counterpoint to the more traditional, genteel writing, and it stuck. Tim treated golf like a passion but not a religion, and his influence is everywhere in golf reporting today.
He was easy to know and had a million friends. At a tournament one day in the early 1990s, he asked what I was up to and I answered off-handedly, “hunting big game.” I’d been trying to arrange a long interview with Greg Norman—no easy feat back then—and had borrowed a phrase frequently used by Muhammad Ali’s famous trainer and cornerman, Drew (Bundini) Brown, when Ali was pursuing another title shot. Tim’s ears perked and from then on he addressed me as, Big Game. I called him Big Game right back and it became our standard greeting. A lot of people at lunch tables wondered what we were talking about, but they could tell we were good friends.
Tim had the most killer Rolodex in golf. Players, caddies, agents, administrators, club owners and assorted golf tycoons, all liked and respected him, and he had most of them on speed dial. Most of us were jealous of his contacts list and how readily his calls were returned. There are no shortcuts to how he achieved that. Tim for 40 years was dedicated, trustworthy, honest and fair. He was Big Game in every way. —Guy Yocom
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Count me among the legion of young reporters who will never be able to thank Tim Rosaforte enough for being there as I got started in golf writing. I’d been assigned the amateur beat at Golf Digest’s sister publication, Golf World, and my boss, Geoff Russell, said it might be smart to go to Florida and meet with Tim during the week of the Coleman Invitational, a high-profile mid-amateur event just up the road from Rosie’s home in Palm Beach Gardens. The idea was for him to introduce me to a few people who I could then call to help with our amateur coverage. I’d heard about Tim’s impressive network of sources, but I got to witness his famed Rolodex come to life as he connected me to dozens of influential golf industry folks during an evening at Seminole Golf Club. As I was leaving, I thanked him for what he had done, but by the time I’d gotten back home to Connecticut, Tim had left a voice mail message with a few more names and numbers he thought I should have just in case. That was Tim, always looking out for others. From then on, he and I would talk often about golf and writing. It made me feel better knowing that a journalist as successful as Tim had the same insecurities over his writing that I did and that, just like me, he wrestled with concerns about being on the road and away from family, too. Seeing how he juggled all his assignments gave me comfort that it was all doable. I wasn’t the most important person in Rosaforte’s Rolodex, but when we talked, he always made me feel that way. —Ryan Herrington
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I first met and worked alongside Tim in the late 1990s, before I even started at Golf Digest. I was a young golf reporter just trying not to trip over the gallery ropes, but Tim quickly made me feel part of the gang covering the PGA Tour—the golf hacks. I always appreciated how he treated me as an equal, while we both knew I clearly wasn’t. Later, I edited Tim’s “Tour Insider” column for a number of years at Golf Digest. Most people think of Tim as a dogged reporter, but it always struck me how bonded he was to every word he wrote. He would know in an instant if I changed something in his column, and we spent many phone conversations debating even the most subtle edits. It wasn’t a job for him; it was personal. —Ron Kaspriske
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We never lost a golf match.
Tim Rosaforte and I became friends long before we became colleagues at Golf Digest because we shared the distinction of being among a handful of writers who had developed a relationship with golf great Jack Nicklaus—his starting with his time covering golf for the Palm Beach Post and mine via my Ohio newspaper ties. We enjoyed the connection, and we revelled in the stories we could tell each other about this or that meeting with Jack. We compared notes. We understood the privilege.
But what made us close was the golf we got to play together. Like I said, we never lost. Whether it was a $10 game against other writers while we were out on the road or as teammates in a few “official” matches, Tim and I never lost a four-ball match.
The game that cemented our invincibility—or at least our belief in it—came in 2004 at Birmingham Country Club, near Detroit, when we were representing the United States in the Rolex “Writer’s Cup,” a match held before that year’s Ryder Cup at Oakland Hills. We were a couple of 8 handicaps, and we drew two Brits, one playing to a 3 handicap and the other a 15. Long story short, the 15 played like a 3, and Tim and I were 3 down at the turn. We were dead. And then we weren’t. Somehow, we rallied, and after I won the 17th, we had tied the match. Then I promptly hit my drive on 18 out of play. Tim coolly went fairway, green, putt … birdie. And we won the darn thing, 1 up. We actually hugged. We knew we were somehow magic together. And that was our thing whenever we saw each other.
I always told Tim this: He was easy to play with because he was easy to be with. And his kindness radiated in everything he did. So he brought out the best in me a lot of times, whether on the golf course or in some faraway media centre.
Even the last time I saw him, at the 2020 Honda Classic, as we sat together in the lunchroom, there was just a brief exchange about what made our friendship unique, that singular thread that always tied us together.
“We never lost, did we?” he said to me, grinning, as I was about to get up to leave.
“No, we never did,” I said, and then we exchanged a fist bump.
And we shall forever be undefeated. —Dave Shedloski
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I’ll never forget what a dogged reporter Tim was—and how much he cared about helping others getting the story right as well. I believe it was my first time covering the Players Championship in 2011 when he stopped by in the media centre. He was always in and out doing TV, but he wanted to make sure I was all set up and to ask what I was working on. When I mentioned something about Tim Clark, he started feeding me information. And when he looked in his backpack for some of his notecards, he handed me one of his two phones. I swear that thing didn’t stop vibrating for more than a second with texts and emails from his legendary list of contacts. It was amazing. But that’s why he was so good at his job. He never stopped working at it. And as much as he knew about something, he always kept digging for more. What a great guy, and what a great role model for any aspiring writer. —Alex Myers
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I worked with Tim as a researcher on Morning Drive before joining Golf Digest. Every morning, he would walk into the newsroom at 4 a.m. with the biggest grin on his face. He’d shout, “Hey Rae!” and give me a fist bump before handing me a laundry list of stats and facts he’d need for the show. He always wanted to make sure he got it right. Integrity was the epitome of his reporting, but that’s just who Rosie was. He was kind to every person he came across and always made an effort to ask how you were. You couldn’t find a person who wasn’t a fan of Tim Rosaforte. He made every show, every day and every one better. —Nicole Rae
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I’ve known Tim probably since the mid-‘80s, and my best memory of him was from the 1994 U.S. Amateur at the TPC Sawgrass. Tim was there for Sports Illustrated, I was there for the Orange County Register, and our third, Larry Dorman, was there for the New York Times. Tim saw to it that we made time for golf—the three of us played 72 holes in three days on the Valley Course there (while the amateur was being played on the Stadium Course). Temperatures in the 90s or higher, with matching humidity. Sweating like dogs. Yet we didn’t miss a beat. Later on, when we were colleagues at Golf World, he saw to it that we played golf together on Kapalua’s Bay Course during the Tournament of Champions. Tim was the all-time best at setting up golf on business trips, yet the work never suffered. —John Strege
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There’s so much about Tim to talk about that it’s difficult to know where to start. There’s the obvious: his talent and tenacity. Always sticking to the facts over sensationalism. Always making the extra phone call or text. He was fantastic as both a writer and reporter and a television personality. While probably known for the latter, he didn’t really fancy himself as a TV star but rather a reporter who happened to be on TV. Tim was also an unmatched colleague, always willing to help out. The times he got me quotes from players about their equipment when I wasn’t on site was invaluable. He also wasn’t protective of his extensive contact list. At the 2009 Open Championship, I was asked to try and get in touch with Greg Norman to get his thoughts about Tom Watson contending a year after Norman had done so. I asked Tim for an assist. “Greg’s calling you in 10 minutes,” Tim let me know literally less than five minutes after I asked. His humility for someone so successful also was striking. He was never a “Hey, look at me!” guy. Instead, he preferred to prop up others. At the 2006 Masters he was doing a TV spot. He said he was going to call me to talk about Phil Mickelson using two drivers. As I get on the phone, I hear Tim say, “If you’re going to go to the bullpen, you might as well call in the Mariano Rivera of equipment.” That was typical Rosie. A Ruthian figure in our profession. —E. Michael Johnson
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As a young Golf Digest staffer, I got the chance to work with Rosie on a number of smaller projects. I’ll never forget how he went out of his way to thank me for my help. A hearty hello when I saw him at tournaments; an email or a text of encouragement—those small things go a long way when you’re starting out. I’ll always remember him taking a phone call from me when I was asking for his professional advice even after he left Golf Digest. He treated me like a friend, and I’ll always think of him as one. —Stephen Hennessey
In my 20 years of being around Tim in golf media centres, the thing I’ll remember most is how he could work a room. In the latter years of his career, while working for Golf Channel, he’d go to the veterans on the beat to cull tidbits about players they were close to. My guy was Phil Mickelson. He was “using” us in his own way—as we all do with our reporting brethren—but he did it so professionally, and with such good nature, that it never once bothered me. In fact, I felt honoured, because he was the ultimate pro’s pro. —Tod Leonard
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The 2015 PGA Championship was my first big event for Golf Digest and I was nervous as hell not to screw it up. So imagine how I felt Monday morning at Whistling Straits when I had been on the grounds for less than 10 minutes and got berated by a security guard for stepping somewhere I wasn’t supposed to step. As I felt my body shutting down from embarrassment I managed to mutter, “Can you tell me where the driving range is?” Before the guard could respond I heard, “I’m going there now, follow me.”
I was so new to the golf scene that he didn’t realize we worked for the same company. That didn’t stop Tim from escorting me to the practice area, peppering me with questions about who I was and what I did, giving me a few tips (“You can’t be afraid to piss a few people off”), and introducing me to a handful of folks when we got to the range with “Meet my new friend” before leaving to do a TV hit. It may seem like a simple gesture, but when you get Tim’s blessing, you are instantly a made man.
Unfortunately, I did not have many face-to-face interactions with Tim after that. We would run into each other at majors, usually only for a few minutes, although minutes that I cherished for every second. But what he did for me that week at Whistling Straits—bringing an outsider out of the cold and making him feel warm—is a debt I will forever owe. —Joel Beall
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When I was hired at Golf Digest in 2017, the great Tim Rosaforte was approaching the end of his time here. Fortunately, I had the pleasure of speaking with him once at the 2017 Northern Trust at Glen Oaks, though our conversation was over the phone. Rosaforte had gotten my number from my boss, Sam Weinman, and he was calling to ask if I could grab a quote from Justin Thomas for an upcoming piece he was writing. This task immediately became my life mission. Here was one of the greatest, if not the greatest, golf insiders ever asking the low man on the totem pole at Golf Digest to grab a valuable piece of information for him. The fact he trusted me with that task is still a moment I think about to this day, and I’m happy to report I did come through for him. Two months later, at the Presidents Cup at Liberty National, we crossed paths again, this time in person, and Rosaforte remembered exactly who I was despite our only previous correspondence being that short telephone conversation from a few months earlier. As good of a reporter as he was, he was that much better of a human. —Chris Powers