Doubling Up Mauna Lani

Sometimes the experience of playing a golf course is too good. We were planning on playing three different courses on our trip to Hawaii. It had been many years since playing golf on the Big Island, we wanted to see different venues. Mauna Lani was the second course we had scheduled to play during the week. After the round our idea was to move on and play Mauna Kea, just down the coast. But, the South Course turned out to be breathtaking in many areas. The layout of the course was challenging enough to peak interest without becoming over bearing. The grounds were well taken care of, making it a treat to look around. And the three holes running along the Pacific Ocean were nothing short of mesmerizing. However, our rounds at Mauna Lani went further. For the first time, some of my swings and putting motions were recorded. We had talked about taking a recording device, but I had forgotten the camera. So, my brother used his phone to capture video of me periodically as our day unfolded. I didn’t shy away from the camera and by the end of our rounds we had a few short videos.

The South Course of Mauna Lani has one of the most breathtaking holes in the world. The par-3 fifteenth sits on the Pacific Ocean. The tee shot traveling to the green crosses over an inlet, with waves crashing into lava rock. A small rocky beach sits just below the tee box maybe a hundred feet down. It is the most beautiful hole I’ve experienced in my golfing life. After playing the hole in my late teens, there was a familiarity with how it would feel this time. However, the memory didn’t seem to help on that day. Walking onto the hole was more mesmerizing than had been anticipated. When playing the course for the first time, during our previous trip, the anticipation of walking onto the fifteenth hole dominated my thoughts. Thinking back on the experience, all that mattered was seeing the fifteenth. It occupied my mind to the point of being unable to remember much else about the round. This time it was my intent to breath in the entire design, without becoming too fixated on one hole, because the rest of the course could become irrelevant again. Keeping in mind to remain in the present, brought to life a treasure that had been missed.

It seems we can get caught up in the anticipation of shiny things. The fifteenth hole of the South Course could be described this way. It probably qualifies as one on the most beautiful golf holes in the world. The hole seems to live up to that kind of hype, even though I’m a far cry from seeing all golf holes in the world. One issue becomes what about the remainder of the course, we don’t want to play a golf course just for one par-3. So, I took the time to look around me, instead of waiting in anticipation for the fifteenth. The South Course felt pretty great. Some golf courses provide a good feel and it has often been challenging to put my finger on the reason. But, Mauna Lani provided that good feeling I’m searching for when playing. The degree of difficulty was challenging, but fair. There was enough undulation to keep things interesting. However, the ups and downs of the topography fell sort of overwhelming. The design of this course brought comfort. Each green seemed to have its own unique characteristics, making them exciting to navigate. There were three holes on the South Course bordered by the ocean. Two par-3 holes and the second half of a par-4. The three holes along the Pacific were amazingly scenic. We probably could have taken in the scenery all day.

Even taking time to enjoy the entire South Course, fifteen did steal the show. When arriving at the hole on the first day, butterflies swirled in my stomach. We drove through some vegetation that cleared before arriving at the teeing ground. Out of the shadowy vegetation and between two condo buildings, the path led directly at the ocean, and the setting sun over the Pacific. Much of my round had been played from the forward tee boxes to that point. However, for the fifteenth hole I wanted to move back a little. Moving back to the white tees would bring the ocean more into play. It excited me to attempt clearing a greater chunk of the small bay that separated the tee from the green. Walking up onto the white tee brought some anxiety, as I looked toward the green, seeing the waves rolling into the small inlet. Standing over my impending shot, the sound of waves slashing against the rockery brought excitement. How many times would that sound accompany a golf shot? But, the peaceful noise also stirred apprehension, as the shot length felt beyond my ability. With the final questioning thought of, “hopefully this is enough club,” it turned out not to be enough. The nervousness of the moment caught me and my focus faltered. The ball went left without much air to help it and I donated a golf ball to the Pacific Ocean. Later reflecting, how many people get to miss a golf shot into the ocean. A couple days later we would play the course again. I moved up to the forward tee of fifteen. Moving forward on the teeing ground would make the shot more manageable. After experiencing the hole days before, my nerves were calmer. My swing was better, the shot flew over the ocean, landing safely. On the second day, playing fifteen resulted in a par.

Over the course of our two rounds of golf at Mauna Lani, some of my swings were recorded. This past fall marked the first time in years watching myself on video. My trainer made a recording of me executing an exercise. It was scary to watch the first time, but finding the courage, I sat down and viewed the recording. The moment provided video evidence of just how much progress had been made with my CP. On this trip, my brother did some recording of me moving around. We had talked about recording while playing golf, but the beauty was I didn’t know when it would happen. My brother made short videos of me swinging, chipping and putting during our two rounds at Mauna Lani. One great thing about him recording was it began without my knowledge, I knew it would take place, but didn’t know exactly when. The recordings rendered by my trainer took place with my knowledge, which would seem to leave me more naturally guarded. These would be different, as they would more purely show my natural movements. So, after my brother did some video recording, I looked forward to checking them out. There was still some apprehension with watching myself, but based on the circumstances last fall, I felt like my emotions could handle the sight. My thought being that watching myself again could only further the acceptance of my disability, which seemed a good reason to record. It made me thankful for my brother making the recordings.

The videos of me playing golf at Mauna Lani were downloaded onto my computer. They could then be enlarged. Instead of having just one short video from a training session, we had seven short videos of golf footage. There was one video in particular of putting on a green, which showed me moving around until the ball was holed out. It was one of the first in years to view myself move until fully accomplishing a task. In the past, it seems a similar video would have caused me to turn away, not wanting to watch my abnormal movement pattern. With this video, my feelings appeared to have begun changing about my disability. Rather than closing the recording of my movements, it was viewed many times. My desire became to watch myself work with cerebral palsy as I played. It left me feeling that even though the game might be more challenging, my disability hadn’t led me to giving up. My love for playing was helping me challenge CP in an effort to continue doing something making me happy. Now, it felt like watching myself in that happy place was helping me accept myself to a greater extent.


Over two days the South Course at Mauna Lani gave more than was expected. The course provided a feeling of peace. As my objective was to experience everything the layout had to offer. Years ago, playing the course left me so excited to see the fifteenth hole that everything else became a blur. The situation didn’t repeat itself and I found a golf course well worth playing a second time. In fact, with its challenging layout, exciting green complexes, and breathtaking view, the South Course could be played daily. Mauna Lani provided the feeling that it would never get old. The golf course provided something else, maybe even more important. Video taken of playing golf gave me different emotions from ones of my past. Watching myself move around the thirteenth green gave a better image of myself. Allowing me to view some of the role cerebral palsy plays in my life. The images didn’t cause me to turn away, or shut down the video. Instead, I wanted to watch it over again to gain better insight into myself. The video is embedded in this post to share that which is helping me gain acceptance.








2 thoughts on “Doubling Up Mauna Lani

  1. Thank you again for sharing the road you are on Pete. I am grateful for what you are showing us in our journey toward acceptance and the peace that follows. You are one hell of a feelings-writer!


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