surfing and golf

Stephanie Gilmore appearing in Golf Digest. Photo by Morgan Maassen

Surfing and golfing are clubbing together. Previously, the two sports were seen as natural enemies. Golf with its rules and club regulations didn't appeal to surfers with their love of freedom and the anti-establishment. However, these days, led by pro surfers including Kelly Slater and Stephanie Gilmore (pictured above), the two sports are becoming more and more intertwined.

What is it? Golf is based on the principle of hitting a small white ball long distances into a small hole with the use of a stick. The first written record of golf appeared when English King James II banned the game in 1457, due to it being an unwelcome distraction to learning archery. To this day it remains one of the most popular and richest distractions in the sporting world. In 2013 current World No. 1 Rory McIlroy earned a $29.6 million in prize money and sponsorship, according to Forbes magazine.

What's it to do with surfing? "Gilmore, 26, is a fast-improving golfer who plays with Kelly Slater and other top men’s surfers on tour," said the Golf Digest in article on the five-time world champion. These days, Steph should have no shortage of playing partners. Kelly Slater plays at least 150 rounds a year, has a handicap of three and is the best golfer on the surfing tour. Julian Wilson is said to come a close second, while Jordy Smith, Dusty Payne, and Bruce Irons are fanatics. Surf prodigies like Kanoa Igarashi and Leo Fioravanti, both 16, are also hooked on the sport. Ian Walsh is good mates with Ricky Fowler, while last year former surf pro Benji Weatherly caddied for U.S. Open champion Adam Scott at the PGA Sony Open event in Hawaii. Golf does suit those people who have both an excess of time and money, basically the job description of a professional surfer. In an interview in Golf Digest, former Quiksilver Chief Executive Bob McKnight (and Pine Valley member) said, "Fifteen years ago nobody in the surf industry played golf, and now it seems almost everybody does."

Kelly Slater and Stephanie Gilmore

Kelly gives Stephanie a few tips in Hawaii last winter. Photo Maassen

What's right with it? Golf can be addictive and the thwack of a sweetly hit drive weirdly provides a surge of adrenalin. Few sports also provide the chance to talk sh*t with your mates, drive a small motorized car, and have a beer at the end of it all. You can also be relatively unfit and still get around the course. Oh, and unlike with surfboards, airlines actually let you take your clubs on the plane.

What's wrong with it? Mark Twain famously said, "Golf is a good walk spoiled," and when you add the frustration, the expense, the time, the excessive rules, dress codes, and the rich, old, snobby golfer that you are forced to share the course and club with, surely a surf, any surf, is going to be a much more beneficial way to spend four hours. Julian Wilson, pictured here with U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy, clearly disagrees.

Thanks @geoffogilvy coolest golfing experience of my life to date. #golfgolfgolf @golf_geek

A photo posted by Julian Wilson (@julian_wilson) on

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