At the start of October, Kelly Slater was in Scotland for the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at Kingsbarns Golf Links. He’s a good golfer; not just a weekend warrior by any means. And since he was there, he decided he’d go hang around with the kids from The Wave Project Scotland, a mental health charity that provides surf therapy courses to young people facing a range of challenges in their lives.
In 2015, Kelly played to a three-handicap in the AT&T tournament. In 2018, he won The Arnie, touted as “Golf Digest’s highest honor.” Yes, the man knows how to swing a club.
Slater has an analytical mind, which has helped him become the GOAT. One doesn’t become an 11-time world champion on physical skill alone, after all. Contest surfing is a lot more strategic than most people realize, and playing the game is the way to win those titles. Golf too is an analytical thing — shaving off a strokes where you can, playing the whole round smart instead of making those hero shots over the trees on a hard dog leg wins tourneys.
“I like the challenge. It’s such a simple thing,” Slater told Graham Bensinger. “Hit this ball over there. But all these things have to align. You have to get your mind clear and calm and your technique has to be right. It’s kind of problem solving, you know? Golf’s really problem solving.”
One thing you can always bet on, though, is that even if Kelly Slater is on a golf trip, he’ll involve riding waves somehow. Or in this case, helping young kids ride waves. The Wave Project is a fantastic group. For the last decade or so, they’ve been using surf therapy as a form of support for young people dealing with both mental and physical health issues. They offer programs to those eight to 21, giving them the chance to participate in a specialized surf therapy sessions once a week for six weeks. Kids are paired with a volunteer surf mentor and receive one-on-one support throughout their time in the course.
Kelly helped the kids with a few pointers that he’s picked up throughout his long career, and it’s likely that the day with the GOAT won’t be a day they’ll forget any time soon.