There’s a long list of golf writers who considered themselves fortunate to have worked alongside Tim Rosaforte.
Then there’s Randall Mell, who worked with Rosaforte not once, not twice, but three times.
“My career has been stumbling into Rosaforte’s path,” Mell said, smiling.
Mell did more than stumble. He spent the last quarter century writing about professional golf in the hotbed of South Florida at the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel before transitioning into TV/digital at the Golf Channel alongside Rosie.
On Wednesday, the 64-year-old Mell was linked to his old pal again when he became the third person to receive the Rosaforte Distinguished Journalist Award, joining Rosaforte (2021) and Larry Dorman (2022).
The award was created by the Honda Classic three years ago to honor the award-winning Rosaforte after the Jupiter resident had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. The Honda Classic renamed its media room after Rosaforte, who died 13 months ago at 66.
“I’m not in Tim’s league or Larry’s league,” Mell said, “but I am so grateful to be in their company.”
Mell was introduced to Rosaforte in 1985 when the Wisconsin native took a job at the Sun-Sentinel’s bureau in Tamarac. While Mell was learning the business, he was exposed to the work of Rosaforte, the Sentinel’s golf writer.
“If you had told me as a kid in that bureau that someday I would receive an award named after Tim, I would be blown away,” Mell said. “I remember devouring everything he wrote. You wanted to emulate the best.”
Mell became the Sun-Sentinel’s golf writer in 1997 after Rosaforte had moved on to cover golf for The Palm Beach Post, Sports Illustrated and Golf World. Three years later, Mell served as a co-host alongside Rosaforte and Mark Wood for the radio show “Golf World on Air” that ran Saturday mornings for almost a decade. Mell was just happy to be involved.
“Tim was the star of the show,” Mell said. “We were just his sidekicks. He gave us such credibility because Tim knew golf and he knew all the major players.”
Mell was reunited with Rosaforte in 2009 when he was hired by the Golf Channel, where Rosaforte was serving as golf’s first true TV insider.
Mell jokes that he wasn’t stalking Rosaforte; it’s just their careers, for some reason, overlapped like Arnold Palmer’s grip.
“Obviously, Tim was a big influence on my life,” Mell said. “He was always so willing to help and pay you a compliment when you wrote a good story. He would emulate Fred Turner, our old sports editor at the Sun-Sentinel, with a gruff, ‘Nice job, Mell.’ ”
“Tim would be thrilled to know Randall was the latest deserving winner of the Tim Rosaforte Distinguished Writers’ Award by the Honda Classic,” said Genevieve Rosaforte, Tim’s longtime wife, who was at the ceremony along with daughter Molly. “Tim always had the utmost respect for Randall’s work ethic and his professionalism, and we both really enjoyed being around Randall.”
Mell received his plaque Wednesday at PGA National, the day before the Honda Classic starts. This will be the final year American Honda is the sponsor, but the tournament is expected to remain at PGA National with another sponsor.
Mell covered his first Honda Classic in 1990 — a story on 16-year Chris Couch, a local, qualifying for the tournament — when it was held in Broward County. Mell has been around to see the peaks and valleys this PGA Tour event has traveled over the past 35 years.
Like most journalists, he roots for the story, not the individuals. Fittingly, he won a Golf Writers Association of America national writing award for his story on Mark Wilson’s playoff victory in the 2007 Honda.
Mell, retired and living in Orlando, admits it has been tough to watch Honda leave as the tour’s longest-running sponsor and the tournament struggling to attract top names because of its placement on the schedule.
“I am proud of the work I did covering the Honda Classic,” Mell said. “It was in my backyard and I treated it as if was a major. In some ways, it was my golf home, and there’s an ache when something happens to your home.
“But I always looked forward to covering the Honda and spending the week with Rosie. We all miss him a lot, especially this week. You can’t think of Honda without thinking about Tim.”
Longtime Palm Beach Post golf writer Craig Dolch was presented his Hall of Fame plaque Wednesday by South Florida PGA Executive Director Geoff Lofstead at PGA National.
Dolch was inducted into the South Florida PGA Hall of Fame this year with former LPGA star Donna White.