The Surf Issue: Interview between Benji Weatherley and Surf Pro Kelly Slater

Kelly Slater and Benji Weatherley floating in the ocean surfing, waiting for a wave

Golf Geeks

A Note From Benji on The Tee and The Sea

Why do surfers love to golf? Surfers love to golf because it’s so similar to surfing. You’re dealing with Mother Nature and it’s just you and the ocean or you and that stupid little white ball. Mother Nature dictates what happens more than your physical ability. You’ll never fully master either one—that’s what makes it so exciting and fun. It keeps you coming back for more. But at least with golf there are more cocktails and high-fives, less fighting for your life in the ocean.

Benji Weatherley is a good person. We don’t mean that in a “bake you a pie when you move in next door” type, but more like the “do anything for anybody at the drop of a hat to ensure everyone is pumped and excited about life” type. Benji, who is rumored to be one of the better golfers on The Breakers North Shore golf team, was kind enough to sit down with one of his golfing buddies to talk about things like the way the game has shaped both of them, who needs to be there when you card a hole-in-one, and what to do when you find a couple of hundred grand lying around in your bag. The usual things two normal friends who just so happen to have played, caddied and befriended some of the best golfers in the world would talk about. Normal stuff. 

The following is an interview between Benji and one of his good friends, 11-time World Surf Champion Kelly Slater, who also happens to know his way around the course. 

Kelly Slater and Benji Weatherley at a golf course by the ocean, standing under an umbrella.
Benji Weatherley and Kelly Slater

Benji Weatherley: How’d you get turned on to the sport? 

Kelly Slater: When I was a teenager, I used to go golf about once a year with some friends, and I was never really into it. I was terrible. And then one day in my early 20s, I went golfing with a buddy to talk about some business and I hit one shot that stuck in my mind. And I just wanted to repeat that feeling again. So pretty much that moment was what hooked me. 

Benji: How is golf good for the world? 

Kelly: Golf is one of those things, I think like surfing, that it doesn’t matter what you do out there, you can go enjoy it. It’s a lifestyle and it’s a way for people to share ideas about things. I think it shows your personality. It’s something you get to make all the decisions on and you get to blame yourself for something that’s gone bad or pat yourself on the back for something that’s gone well and, most importantly, it is something that can bring people together from all walks of life. 

Benji: What would you be doing with the time that would be available if you didn’t chase a little white ball around the course? 

Kelly: I’d probably play music more—probably clean the house more. I’m not quite sure. 

Benji: If you could trade your ability to swing a club and be just as good at something else, what would that be? 

Kelly: Well, I wouldn’t say that I have the highest skills in the world as a golfer. I’m close to scratch at this point, but I’m not like a pro. So as a musician, I don’t think it would make me one of the top musicians in the world or anything like that. If I could golf as well as I surf, I think I’d be doing pretty well though. 

Benji: I have the uncanny ability to tell you that during the next round you will get a hole-in-one. The only thing is that just one person would be watching. Who would you select to be standing next to the green watching your hole-in-one? 

Kelly: That would be Bill Murray. 

Black and white photo of Kelly Slater and Bill Murray in a studio holding a golf club.
Bill Murray and Kelly Slater

Benji: One course you would like to play before you can’t swing a club anymore? 

Kelly: I think I’d like to go up to Bandon Dunes and play the courses up there on the ocean some time. Actually, wrong. It’s Augusta because I haven’t played it yet. I feel like I have because a lot of my friends are members or people that played there a lot. So yeah, it’d be Augusta. 

Benji: You pick up your clubs and head to the first tee box. When you get to your bag, you pull out a note that says, “I have placed $230,000 in your bag. All I ask is that you use this money to put a little joy in the world. Have a good round.” What do you do with the funds when you get off the course? 

Kelly: I’d want to do something permanent with it for sure. I’d probably use the funds to help build houses for people who are homeless in South Africa. I think that’s what I’d do. I’ve just been exposed to a lot of people there who are homeless, so I’d love to be able to house them. It’s chilly down there in the wintertime when I’m there. 

Benji: Three people that have helped your golf game? 

Kelly: First would be Sandy Armour, brother of Tommy Armour III. He was the first person I ever played golf with. Next would be Jerry King at Capa Lula. Years ago, he gave me what I would regard as my first lesson, a video lesson. He helped me learn how to stop hitting it low left and hit a high slice, which actually was great because I hit the ball left for so long. And third I would say Moe Norman, I watched so many of his videos over the years and the way he struck the ball … I would say he was probably the biggest help to my game. 

Benji: What was your home course growing up? 

Kelly: That would be Cocoa Beach Country Club, 27 holes. 

Benji: Song you would like playing for you when you walk into the clubhouse after your best round ever? 

Kelly: Al Greene, “Let’s Stay Together.” That song was the number one song on the charts the week I was born in 1972. 

Benji: What type of golfer would you like to be remembered as? 

Kelly: I’d like to be remembered as a good golfer and an honest golfer… and not a slow golfer, a quick golfer.