Player Diary: California's Joel Stalter (Part 6)
What a trip! Early February is always the time of the year where everybody in the team is trying to step it up to make the line-up. I have to say that we have it pretty good; we get to spend a week in Hawaii while most of my friends are back on campus, going to class and taking midterms,.
This year was special as we got to stay in Kauai as opposed to Oahu. The tournament was hosted at Wailua Municipal Golf Course, which lies under the passive, massive gaze of the Sleeping Giant mountain ridge on Kauai. The resort we stayed at was right on the ocean and we got to relax on the beach after our rounds or even go for a quick jog. One of the perks of this trip is that we get to go a few days before the tournament and enjoy the outdoor activities that Hawaii offers. The day after we arrived, we woke up early and drove around the island. It was breath taking for everyone. As good tourists, we had Coach Desimone pull over every five minutes because we all wanted to show off and take pictures we would later post on Instagram. We stopped at Ke’e beach, which is on the North side of the Island and then headed back to the hotel to get ready to play nine holes in the afternoon. Pace Johnson brought his GoPro camera and compiled a fun video of our trip so we had quite a lot of fun!
It was nice discovering a new island and the team definitely fell in love with the place. The University of Hawaii and Wailua Golf Club did a fantastic job hosting us. Along with the local community, they put lots of energy in to give us the best possible conditions and had the course in great shape despite all the rain they had had.
The history of the course struck me as intriguing as it was originally only nine holes before the back nine was added and would further help provide jobs for plantation workers who were losing their jobs to mechanization. Eventually, the place became a major tourist destination, boosting Kauai’s economy and propelling what was before “a wasteland of sand dunes and ironwood trees” to one of Hawaii’s best courses. This made me realize how big of a deal it was for the golf community in Hawaii to move the tournament to Kauai, and most importantly that the game we play can impact others in bigger ways than we may ever imagine.
The team played really well as we all finished in the top 15 individually, allowing us to defend our title and getting our second win of the spring. It was also great to see a solid performance from Keelan Kilpatrick (Kiwi, as he is from New Zealand) who cracked the lineup after putting up some very impressive rounds in qualifying.
This will certainly give us a great momentum going into my favorite event of the regular season, the Southern Highland Collegiate Masters, where we will also attempt to defend our title.
Mahalo and GO BEARS!!!