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Mark Huber in Hawaii

Oahu, HI - Kapolei CC - Pacific Links Championship

Posted Sep 18, 2012 by Mark's Kaddy Korner

Starting and hopefully finishing KK from LAX at 5:00 a.m. on my way back to St. Louis via Salt Lake City. My laptop didn't work on the beach yesterday so I procrastinated a bit. The trip coming back is much smoother so far than than trip from hell going out last Monday.
The plane pushed away on time then returned quickly to the gate, the pilot's shoulder strap wouldn't fastened and a bunch of folks were stuck in St. Louis because a mechanic could properly install the right shoulder strap the night before. There wasn't a spare at the airport, they had to fly one in from Minneapolis and the extra 6 hours wrecked some well laid travel plans.
You don't need many clothes in Hawaii so I was traveling light, all carry on, until the gate agent talked me into checking one bag. After rearranging flights I made it to Hawaii about 10 p.m. but my bag didn't, Delta put us up in a semi-ok hotel, bought me a nice shirt and shorts at the pro shop the next morning just before we teed it up at 8:30. I was supposed to meet Bob Monday afternoon and supposed to have a nice B&B but the Delta mechanic screwed all that up and we winged it from there.
The practice round went well, I got all my prelim work done and Bob was nutting the ball plus putting nicely, the most important thing on God's green earth if you want to make a bit of money out here. The new garb was definitely out of my price range and the boys let me know it.
My luggage finally arrived at the course about 4:30, we found a great margarita and chips in Ko Alina then searched the web for housing. The tournament staff wasn't much help, there were no mom and pop's anywhere, $100 a night was the minimum but we did find a room at a local firefighter's home on a new web site We shacked up with him after a couple nights on the North Shore at Backpacker's International.
Oahu is a tiny island, you can be anywhere in about 45 minutes and we hit every nook and cranny, I think. We drove through the lush green valleys surrounded by steep, fluted mountainsides, cruised the beach, got off on a few dirt roads and basically winged it all week. We did some snorkeling on the North Shore, visited Pearl Harbor briefly, cruised Waikiki Beach, drove around Diamond Head and sampled the local foods at places like "Fatty's", a local Chinese diner tucked behind the International Marketplace.
We drove into the Mormon Temple Wednesday evening, beer in hand, and visited the Buddhist Temple just before catching our flight Monday evening. Packing for a flight overlooking a Buddhist cemetery was a new experience but we didn't disturb anyone.
Bob gave me Wednesday off and by the looks of his clubs Thursday morning he didn't do anything either. There was only one shotgun pro-am each day with 34 groups, making for a long round, luckily, the tournament had 6-7 food stations at various tee boxes and the amateurs collected gifts from sponsors during the round. We munched on scallops, shrimp, BBQ'd ribs, sashimi (not my favorite) and spring rolls while the amateurs collected shoes, clubs, sunglasses, balls, etc. but no one shared with their caddy. Bob collected nine birdies, 6 on the first 7 holes and played his second best round of golf all year.
Some guys like to save their birdies for the weekend, others look at pro-am birdie sprees as the floodgates starting to open, I tried to stick with the latter philosophy and on Friday we managed an easy 69 and a tie for ninth. I didn't look ahead just accepted the nice round and had positive thoughts for the weekend.
We had a caddy wedding on the eighteenth green Thursday at sunset. Patrick and Amy, longtime sweethearts, tied the noose close to the Sunday pin placement next to a waterfall while the sun was setting on the mountainside. About 20 players and caddies attended, it was nice, short and sweet with a little BBQ afterwards. The last caddy wedding I attended was on the beach at Hualali, Bruce Edwards, Watson's long time sidekick, tied the knot with a cast of Golf Hall-of-Famers looking on.
Our three days with Brandon, the firefighter, we're enjoyable. It was a new experience staying with a complete stranger but his 5 year old surfing daughter was adorable and they made us feel right at home. It was a 20 minute jaunt down the coast each day and in Hawaii there isn't much night life anyway, everyone gets going early, spends the day catching sun and retires early. I don't think we saw 10:30 p.m. all week.
The Pacific Links Championship was a brand new event and wasn't on the schedule till about 3 months ago. The tour is trying to put a foreign swing together with stops in China, Korea and Japan. The sponsors this week have connections in every country so hopefully all will work out for the future, four weeks traveling the Far East would be pretty cool.
We were in the hunt on Saturday, something new, and Bob had that "look". He was quiet, contemplative and had that steely, competitive glow in his eyes. I tried to remain focused, kept things in order and was completely prepared for the round. We didn't try to force things but the birdies never showed. Well a couple or three did, plus a few bogies and we shot 71 dropping nine spots, sure wish we could have banked a few of those pro-am birdies.
I actually threatened Bob telling him I was going to bring out his pro-am partners and make him play with them again if that would get us nine birdies. He chuckled but out short game kept holding us back. We stubbed a few chips and couldn't get it up and down from anyplace when we missed the green. The gusty crosswinds were difficult and they left us in pin high predicaments a few times. The yardage was right the direction slightly akilter.
I'm going to have to call it quits here, sorry. Flight is landing in Salt Lake, I've got a quick connection and Jim's deadline to meet. I'll finish up next week after a week off and watching my daughter run her first half-marathon for charity in Milwaukee. I think she sent out donation requests awhile back. If you can throw her a buck or two.
Mark Huber
PGA Tour Caddy

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