I’m an amateur golfer. Really a former college baseball player turned desk-jockey. Entering the business world, I found doing Spartan Races didn’t allow an opportunity to hammer out the finer details of a contract. The mud in my mouth while bear crawling up a fifty yard slope with barbed wire puncturing my back didn’t make me very talkative. Therein lies my fascination with golf.
Between after-hours jaunts to the driving range, striving for the sweet spot between wanting to crush the ball while feeling Zen about it, my brother called to inform me he was getting married in Maui. To top it off, he wanted to play golf.
The location: Wailea, Maui. Set on the western side of the island, a forty minute drive from the airport, Maui has much to offer. Hana, an arduous two hour drive through a twisting, turning jungle road with 88 one-way bridges that’ll make your hair turn white, boasts the incredible black sand beach and underground caves that you can explore with flashlights. But if doing nothing is on your agenda, then Wailea should be your main destination. Aside from golf, spas, and shopping, the hardest thing you’ll have to do is to remember just how many Mai Tais you’ve had while lying on the beach.
On my third day, it was time to play. I’d made sure to drink less than I had the first night so I could be on point. The first order of the day was breakfast. Our tee time was at seven thirty in the morning. Maui functions on “island” time. Speed limits are a maximum of forty miles per hour (on the highway) and the police officers are notorious for ticketing unsuspecting out-of-towners. For an LA guy used to either careening down the road at seventy or being stuck in a bottleneck, I was going mad. This was supposed to be a vacation so I had to breathe deeply. Outside of a hotel or a Jack-In-the-Box (too far to drive), there is no breakfast spot open before eight a.m. We wanted to warm up. Hit a few balls. Perusing the golf store, my father convinced us to all buy matching Wailea Golf Course hats and so we settled for muffins.
The course itself is iconic. Wailea It was home for The Champions Skins Game from 2001 through 2007. Has a dozen or so awards beginning with Golf Digest and Golf Magazine lauding Wailea Gold as one of the country’s best new resort courses. Palm trees slashed across an orange sun creeping over the endless Pacific Ocean. White capped waves as far as the eye could see. Greens so manicured my brother commented that it was one of the few courses where your ball rolled “true”. Sand traps so soft they felt like powder.
By far one of my favorite things were papohaku. I didn’t know what they were until I hit an iron from the fairway into the pre-historic lava rock walls that sliced through the course. Upon impact, my ball careened all the way to a different hole, practically out of bounds and resulting in a string of obscenities.
On the eighth hole, the view of Molokini (a tiny island known for world-class snorkeling), was so clear the family had to take pictures. Watching other players to make sure we weren’t holding up their groups, we noticed that picture taking was not uncommon. After all, it’s why you’re playing on Maui.
We’d had a rough go of it. Winds were so furious I chased my hat on almost every hole, finally forgoing the whole idea. Drives were swatted from the sky by an invisible hand. My brother, a scratch golfer by any measurement, gave up trying to play well on the thirteenth hole.
In the end, we had to laugh it off. Going to Maui was about his wedding, not making par (though that would’ve been nice). It was an experience to bond. An opportunity in our crazy lives where I sometimes go months without seeing my brother to share a memory. I was never in it for the score. I’m not that good anyway. I was there to be with my brother and made sure that he’d never forget his bachelor party.