Stab Magazine | Is Surfing Turning Into Golf?

Is Surfing Turning Into Golf?

“This is in my top 3 of the best things I’ve ever done.” said golf star Rafael Cabrera-Bello, after surfing Slater’s pool for the very first time. 

Words by stab

Surfing and golf are two sports that, no more than 50 years ago, couldn’t have been more diametrically opposed. 

Surfers were all about long hair, no shoes, and had an anti-establishment bent. Golfers were all about combovers, tucked shirts, and had an obsession with following the rules. 

While the good little boys who parted their hair and went to private schools golfed with pappy, the local stoners and miscreants took to the beach, often against their parents’ will. 

While surfers had sex, golfers prayed to Jeebus.

It was Dogtown vs. Godtown, etc. 

Nowadays, the two pastimes have become the sporting world’s odd-couple, with many of the world’s best surfers schlepping their clubs across the world with them, while several top golfers spend their minimal vacation days chasing waves. 

But how did this happen?

Well, through the passing of time, both sports have come to meet somewhere in the middle, culturally, with surfers ditching the homeless hippy look for something more clean-cut, and golfers easing up on their snobbery just a bit, losing the must-wear-slacks rule (except on the PGA) and even allowing women to join some of their clubs in recent years.  

And of course I don’t have to tell you about Laird’s Golf Board, which has somehow made golfing both more fun and insufferable in the very same instance.

Now, the 11-time Champ Kelly Slater is one of surfing’s best hackers, boasting a handicap right around scratch (which means he averages close to even par on an 18-hole course, which is very, very hard to do) and playing in a few annual pro-am/celebrity events. 

Perhaps through these avenues, Slater has become good pals with a few of the world’s elite golfers, including Australian Adam Scott (golf’s Julian Wilson) and Spain’s Rafael Cabrera-Bello. Both of them recently attended Slater’s Lemoore facility for the very first time, and by all means it looks like they had a blast. Go ahead and watch (above). 

While it’s easy to understand Adam and Rafa’s giddy responses to the pool, one can’t help but wonder if this type of elitist mediocrity is the future of surfing. 

If the only people able to surf the pool are those personally invited by Slater, or worse, those who can afford to buy a $150 wave (rough estimate), what does that mean for the future of our sport? Instead of creating a cesspool of exponential progression wherein the world’s most talented (and oftentimes poor) eight-year-olds will be able to expand the limits of surfing possibility, we’ll be forced to watch rich 40-somethings hump their way across a perfect canvas for 53 seconds.

In other words, surfing might just become like the golf of old, which is a terrifying concept.

Golfing and wavepools are great individually, but is this recent mixation potentially disastrous?


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