Quiet Please Mr. Whale

There probably isn’t any way for a whale to remain quiet unless they choose. One of the most amazing things about them seems to be when they make noise. When a whale becomes active playing in the sea, moments of aah occur from land or boat. Those moments are breathtaking and not to be missed. This week was spent in Hawaii, a placed I’ve been blessed to visit. We journeyed to the Big Island for relaxation, adventure, and a few rounds of golf. The interesting part of our trip was traveling to a place we traveled as kids. It was the place of my first golfing experience at seven years old. We played the same course where my first swings were taken. The Waikoloa Beach Course has one hole on the front nine which runs out to the ocean. It’s a par five, with the final hundred yards or so sitting along the Pacific. Playing the seventh hole during our round brought about my encounter with a whale, actually a few of them. The course had been reconfigured since the time I learned. It seemed much of the front nine was now the back nine and the course had a new clubhouse. The round brought about different emotions.

The memories of playing golf for the first time didn’t come back immediately. Memory told me the first nine holes of my life were played in Hawaii, but I was unsure exactly where. But, we all thought it was at Waikoloa during one of our first trips. There are two golf courses at Waikoloa and we played the beach course. It is well named, as the ocean can be viewed from a couple holes. One hole with the green just feet from waves crashing into the rock. Another interesting feature of the golf course is how it winds through lava rock. The rock giving Waikoloa a very unique feel. With everything reconfigured it was challenging to know what to expect. The drive from the clubhouse out to the first tee had some length. Once we arrived there was a couple groups waiting in the early sunlight. Our first tee shots required a carry over a small pond separating the teeing area from the fairway. After completing the opening par-four we ventured on to the par-3 second. Which again required a shot to carry the pond guarding the green. The shot back into the morning sun was almost blinding. After a long winter void of any golf activity, these felt like challenging ways to open the golfing year. But, despite the awkward feeling of playing again, the island sun felt amazing. The warms relaxed my cerebral palsy and helped provide a golf swing without pain.

We wound through the lava rock of the first few holes. With each swing the motion became more fluid. After playing golf for so long, sometimes getting back into it can feels like riding a bike. Luckily, with the warmth it did feel like a pretty natural transition after not playing during the winter months. So, by the time we reached the seventh hole, my game was beginning to come into form. The winter rust that most golfers battle was melting away in the Big Island sunshine. Number seven is a relatively long par-5 meandering down toward the water. When the ocean is reached, the holes turns right, bordering the water for its remaining hundred yards. It would have never occurred to me that I would someday see a whale in the middle of a golf game. Golf is one sport played in relative quiet to aid concentration. So, when stepping up to the ball before hitting a shot, the last thing to anticipate hearing would be a mammal in the sea. But, that was exactly what happened. Just when the hole took a sharp right turn, my ball rested in the fairway. As I approached my golf ball to take a shot, a whale came up for air, clear as any sound was that of him releasing air. It was one of the coolest things I’ve ever heard on a golf course and an awesome way for a swing to be interrupted. It caused me to back away from my golf shot and take a minute to enjoy the majestic mammal swimming just off shore. I then regrouped and executed my golf shot.

The seventh green sat beside one of the larger resorts on the island. As we approached the green people were gathering behind and to the right. They were watching the whales swim along the coastline. It took extra concentration to focus on my putting, which didn’t really work out. The excitement of catching a glimpse of the whales took precedent. So, we completed the hole and stood on the green for an extra moment. Just down the coast line we watched the pod swim away from our vantage point. The whales were flanked by boats full of people watching them swim. A smaller number of spectators were gathered just beyond our green, taking pictures, or like us, simply taking in the moment. Although we could have stood mesmerized for much longer, we had to keep the round of golf moving. Our eyes kept peering back toward the ocean as we walked to our cart. The path lead us away from the only hole along the water. A par-3 took us back up the hill and inland. The hole left us with an unforgettable moment. It doesn’t seem my preparation to hit a golf shot will be intruded by a whale again. The situation felt as unique as hitting a hole-in-one might feel if accomplished. Hearing a whale surface before seeing the large mammal was awesome.

The game of golf has been a great gift in my life. It’s a game played at a slower pace and in relative peace, making it great for helping improve cerebral palsy symptoms. It’s also a game that can be played by anyone wanting to try it out. Golf can also provide some amazing experiences. Playing golf in Hawaii this week provided some of those unforgettable moments. Who knows how many places in the world provide the opportunity to whale watch while you play. But, we came across one of them this week. However, without being given this game as a child, moments like this would have never been possible to capture. When it occurred, surprise was the first feeling running through my body after hearing and seeing the whale. Then, my only objective was to breath in the moment, trying to hold on to it the best I could. There was still a hole to finish, but it had to be balanced with the knowledge of living an experience that my never happen again. Playing golf in that atmosphere and getting to watch those whales for just a few minutes was awesome. Having the opportunity to experience it with my brother on the first course I ever played made it even more unforgettable. It was amazing that everything came together in order to create that unbelievable moment. Thank you, Mr. Whale, for not keeping quiet!

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