Matt "Money" Smith is co-host of the sports-radio talk show "Petros & Money" on Fox Sports LA (570 AM) and can be heard 4-7 p.m. weekdays.
Before teaming up with former USC tailback Petros Papadakis for their afternoon drive-time show on all things sports, Smith was the morning sports guy with Kevin and Bean on KROQ.
Smith was born into a sports-fanatical family whose arguments centered on the home teams—the Bears, the Cubs—and on who really was the best golfer—Nicklaus, Watson or Palmer. Smith attended Pepperdine University and after graduation stayed in the Southland. These days, when Smith isn’t fending off barbs from sports-talk callers, he might be on the road doing NFL radio play-by-play.
A member of Old Ranch Country Club in Seal Beach, Smith says his 14-handicap is not "as good as I’d like it to be." Here, he talks golf.
Q You talk about them all but the sport you love to play is golf. When did you start playing?
I was in the eighth grade, about 13, and [a friend and I] played at a course called Joe Lewis, The Champ on the South Side of Chicago. It's a really cool course and, like Chester Washington here in LA, the course was mostly run and frequented by African-Americans. It was cheap neighborhood golf, and the old guys who played regularly loved to have two white kids around and took us under their wing. They had a lot to do with me liking the game.
Q Sports talk radio is driven by peoples' passions for sports. What sport are you passionate about?
Football was big at my house. Walter Payton was my hero. On Sundays everything stopped for the NFL.
Q Where does golf fit in?
I love it. It’s the only physical challenge I can still handle. I love the competition, and I enjoy the challenge that golf is to play well.
Q Why isn’t golf talked about much on the radio?
I think we talk about it more than any other show in LA because I know and love golf. If a host really doesn’t know the game and its nuances, you’ll be exposed immediately and you’ll sound foolish.
Q What do you do to improve the sport's popularity?
Make it more accessible, but that's almost impossible to do. The game takes too long. It's too hard. It’s too much of a commitment. I can take my kid to the park and throw the football for an hour, [but] golf is a serious time commitment.
Q You're an opinion guy: best golfer ever?
Jack Nicklaus. But the "best golfer ever" question is so personal. When I picked up the club, it was 1986, which is why Nicklaus is my choice.
Q Is Rory McIlroy going to dominate the game like Tiger Woods did?
One morning I wake up and say yes, the next I say no. Tiger was dominating guys like Ernie Els, Vijay [Singh], Retief [Goosen] and Phil [Mickelson]. I think [that's] a much stronger cast than who McIlroy is beating: Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson … Matt Kuchar. When it was Tiger and the choice was him or the field, you took Tiger. Today, if it's Rory or the field, you take the field.
Q What's your dream foursome?
Jack Nicklaus, because it would thrill my father, along with Darren Clarke and Graeme McDowell, because with those guys you know we're going to have fun playing [and] then talking about it later.
Q Best course you've played? Hardest?
Medinah outside of Chicago, but I also really love Riviera. The hardest is usually because it's the hardest for you. Robinson Ranch is a great course, but for me it's always a pain. The wind's always whipping; the greens can be tough with your occasional four-putt. You blink and you've carded a 104.
Q Does your high-energy radio partner Petros play golf?
No way. I don't think he has the patience for the difficulty, time and frustration the game can be. It would not be a good pairing. SG