We had just finished the seventh hole of the Beach Course at Waikoloa. The only hole on the course running along the ocean. Just the final hundred yards of the par-5, with the green perched above the Pacific. A whale had surfaced for air during the preparation of my approach into the seventh green. After concluding the hole, we stood momentarily with other tourists not playing golf, they were gathered around the green. Everyone had their eyes fixed on the amazing whales swimming away from us, they moved ahead just a few hundred yards off shore. It was a breathtaking experience full of surprise. As we moved on from the seventh green, the Beach Course led us back inland for the remainder of our round. The remainder of our morning on the course would bring back memories. The Beach Course at Waikoloa was the first course of my golfing life. We were on a family vacation as a youngster and I played a few holes for the first time. The interesting part of this experience was things about the course had changed over time. The changes making it almost unrecognizable to my memory. Part of me wondered, as we played the first few holes, whether memories would be jogged at all.
The seventh hole provided an amazing experience. As we continued on inland, memories hadn’t come back over my first golf swings. The golf shop was in a different place from the one in my memory. Which meant the driving range, where one of my first lessons took place wasn’t in the same place. Much of the situation seemed unreal inside my mind. Learning to play the game had happened such a long time ago. Making our way through the front nine had me feeling this wasn’t the spot. Then, something occurred that brought my youth back into focus. After moving on from the seventh and playing a few more holes. We crested the hill of a cart path, drove across a quiet neighborhood, and up to an old building. Our next tee box was off to the left. With a small turn around area and an abandon wood structure about waist high. The wooden structure would have been the old bag drop. We continued driving the cart up a small hill. The cart was parked for a restroom break. As we exited the cart onto a large cement area, we realized this was the old clubhouse. Walking among the single floor area, we could see the old golf shop had been converted into a restaurant. Just across the breezeway looked to be a real-estate office. We continued in pursuit of the restrooms toward the front of the breezeway. Upon reaching them, we could look down a staircase to the old golf course parking lot. The memories were beginning to flood back.
Walking back out to the golf cart found the memories sinking in more vividly. As I moved past the restaurant, a nostalgic feeling of it having been the golf shop warmed my emotions. Getting back into the cart had me looking around for more warm memories. Another touch of warmth landed when the old practice putting green came into view. It wasn’t being used anymore and appeared like it hadn’t been tended in a while. But, the thought of putting on the green before we played still provided a picture. The distinct recollection of making a super long putt on the green as a child came back, like I could see my younger self in a photo. We then, pulled away from the old clubhouse and headed to the next tee. The following few holes did take me back to learning how to play. Over the next four or five holes the momentary memories would flow in and out of my mind. The holes didn’t seem to be too long or too difficult to play. They each seemed to have particularly wide fairways. Allowing me to hit the ball in almost any direction. It would be a great first place to play because of the wide-open space. An exciting place for my introductory experience to playing.
It was amazing to even be allowed to play. My dad, who gave me the love for golf, took me out on the course one afternoon. We were in Hawaii on a family vacation. Waikoloa was a course near the resort we were staying as a kid. Dad had already played the course during our vacation and I had received my first golf lesson on the driving range. So, my father set up an opportunity for me to play the course after receiving my lesson. It might have been a few days later that we actually played. We went out onto the front nine late in the afternoon. Our beginning would have been at the complete end of the day. The reason starting late in the day would stop us from getting in the way of more experienced players. This meant probably not playing too many holes before darkness took over. But, it also meant getting to play where dad played. It would be difficult to remember every moment from more than twenty years ago. There is some that stick in my mind, like holing the putt on the putting green, or hitting shots in those large fairways as the sun went down. The warmth of the islands surrounded me, as I probably hustled back and forth. The goal would have been getting in as many swings as possible before the ability to see escaped.
The few holes of that night marked the beginning of something important. It would have never occurred to me at the time. In those moments, it was exciting to be experiencing something I had always wanted. Growing up while dad went and played golf found me wanting to go with him. In those moments, the first steps were being taken to fulfill that desire of playing golf with my father. But, maybe even more importantly the game being given to me was going to help with cerebral palsy symptoms. It might not have been a natural fit to teach someone with a physical disability how to play. However, those would-be obstacles didn’t act as a deterrent for either of my parents. Which had me believing that even at my young age it was time for me to learn. Who knows if there was any hesitation to allow me out on the course, but if there was, that was overcome as well. Because of the moments in that setting Hawaii sun, I have a game that will always be with me to play. Golf has been one of the most critical factors in motivating me to improve CP. The game has become important to the degree I will work hard on my physical body, as not to lose the ability to swing. The desire to improve my golf game works hand in hand with my desire to improve my disability. It all keeps me motivated and moving forward. Thanks to the courage of my parents and a few holes at sunset.