The South Course of Mauna Lani has some spectacular holes. I was fortunate to play the golf course a couple times during a February trip to Hawaii. With all of the great holes, thirteen might be my favorite. It had us playing directly toward the Pacific Ocean. Thirteen is a par-4 measuring about 321 yards from the white tee box and about 249 yards from the forward teeing area. The hole gradually turns to the right at the oceans edge. The last part of the hole runs along the Pacific. Thirteen provides a good example of how different holes can be modified to fit the player. Cerebral palsy does make golf more challenging to play. The disability can cause distances of golf shots to be shorter due to muscle weakness and the lack of coordinated movement. However, working on these two things can add distance to the shots being struck. As the strength continues to grow, you might add yardage to some holes, making them more challenging. The idea seems subjective of course, depending on how the game works for the individual. I also wanted to show a full swing with a driver. So far, there have been videos of putting and making a shot with an iron. Even with cerebral palsy full swings can be taken and balance can be maintained. Anything takes time to learn and a disability may make learning a movement more complex, but it can be done.
The fairway at the thirteenth appeared wide from the white teeing ground. Similar to playing any golf hole, one of the first things to look for seems to be trouble. Locating the areas that could be challenging to hit from. On the thirteenth tee shot the only trouble appeared to be the bunkering on the left. The fairway bunkering would have been challenging to hit out of, if it were found by the tee shot. However, from the white teeing ground the bunkers didn’t seem in play. Even with a well struck shot heading directly for the bunkers, my ball probably wouldn’t have reached. The other idea to consider was the amount of open space along the right side. If my tee shot was going to be miss hit, missing from the center to the right would be performed. So, my attention when thinking about the shot focused from the center of the fairway along to the right. Once my plan was mentally in place, one more look around the hole was taken. Verifying nothing was missed, the shot was struck. The ball traveled close enough to its intended path and I bend down in satisfaction, retrieving my teeing peg.
This hole provides a good example of making some holes more challenging. It was a couple years ago that the combination tee concept became familiar. The idea was playing a combination of two teeing grounds. Sticking to the forward teeing area for an entire round might make the course too short in length. While playing from the “men’s” teeing ground for an entire day could render the course too long and challenging. A couple courses I played in California had a combination tee program on the score card. Looking at the score card would tell me whether to play the forward or middle tees on each hole, depending on the length and difficulty. The combination tee concept seemed to be a cool idea, so it was given a test run. The concept was a fun add to playing, making the round of golf more exciting. These combination tee concepts aren’t set up for every scorecard on each place you play. Mauna Lani didn’t have a combination tee option laid out on their scorecard. One option, when the combination isn’t there, becomes to implement it by looking through the card. At Mauna Lani that was the action I chose to take. Before we began playing, I looked over the card and placed dots on the holes I would play from the white teeing ground. The action would make the South Course just a little more challenging.
Looking over the score card can help set up the golf course in a way that challenges yourself. Over time, I’ve developed some criteria to make a golf course work better. As cerebral palsy improves through working in the gym, these ideas for a course may change. In my journey to this point, these are the things I look for on the card. A par-4 should be played no shorter than 300 yards and no longer than 350. A par-5 shouldn’t be played under 450 yards and anything over about 520 is probably too far. For the par-3’s keeping the distance under 150 yards provides the best challenge. Experience has shown me that using these guidelines makes for a good challenge and helps guard against becoming frustrated with my disability. It seems important to balance each course with taking cerebral palsy into consideration. The golf swing also provides a good movement for cerebral palsy because of the required coordination and timing. If I felt pressure to play the game like everyone else, it could lead to slowly pulling away from playing entirely. Which could lead to sacrificing something that helps with the growth of my disability. So, as strength and stability improve through working out, my numbers could eventually change, making golf incrementally more challenging.
There has often been satisfaction drawn from playing. The challenge on movement hampered by cerebral palsy makes golf extra satisfying. Getting around the course, while executing the swing movement leaves me feeling as though CP continues to improve. When my shot distance gets a little longer and distances can be lengthened, I’m also left feeling things are being accomplished. The game can also bring experiences like playing the thirteenth hole at Mauna Lani. It was a blessing to have the opportunity to play. Watching the video only brings about positive memories of being on the teeing ground. The view before my ball was struck can be described as breath taking. Looking out to see the green grass disappear into the blue Pacific. While the two boats in view enjoy their day on the water. It was worth taking a moment to take in the entire picture. A moment that wouldn’t be possible if cerebral palsy was allowed to discourage me away. I’m thankful that my enjoyment of golf leads to the effort, allowing me to keep experiencing these moments.
Cerebral palsy seems to have the ability to leave some of us hampered. The challenge of having the physical disability can find us pulling away. CP has taken that effect on me during different points of my life. Even playing a part in keeping me from traveling during a period of life. The challenges of the disability can be more than physical. However, we can find different things to keep us continuing the battle against the symptoms. There came a point in my life when I wanted to stop missing out on adventures. Cerebral palsy had been part of taking away things in my life and the list was increasing. Once golf was becoming too challenging because of physical pain, it led to taking my battle more seriously. Seeking chiropractic and psychological help began stemming the tide. Then, my work in the gym was taken more seriously. It has all resulted in enjoying the thirteenth along with many other gifts. Of course, my hope is you enjoy the short video and take on any challenging that may be holding you back.