The Sea and the Wind in My Face

Tom Velarde
Golf Professional
Black Mesa Golf Club
La Mesilla, AZ

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Recently, I had the great pleasure of taking an Alaskan cruise with my bride and my daughter and her husband.  Leaving from Portland, we…like you, live in a dry climate and our favorite color is dull brown. The change of scenery was quite dramatic.      

My first thought was the plane was coming in much too low, those trees looked very tall and very thick but we made it down safely. My next shock was the thickness and height of the forest around the area.  The tallest tree in New Mexico would have been a twig here.  As we made our way to various ports and docks, each made me start to forget New Mexico and envy the lush green.  The locals raved about the great weather, “First time in forever that we have seen sun more than two days in a row”.  Dang…in New Mexico when we do not see the sun most run to the nearest church just in case.  When one guide mentioned that everyone there has these rubber boots because of the rainfall, I could recall selling sandals for people to play golf in and now yearned for the desert that we all live and love. 

Being a person who is somewhat dedicated to my chosen sport, I tried to get some practice while on the cruise while everyone else was either exercising or just enjoying the view. 

There are two major differences in trying to practice while on a cruise that goes north or one that goes south.  Let me articulate these. 

Going south, you can practice most anytime and in shorts and shirt and while you practice, enjoy some sort of cool refreshing beverage.  I highly suggest you get the all inclusive tag that will enable you to have any beverage at any time.  I do now understand why those ships have the high railings and jump proof glass walls. These practice days normally would wind up with me exerting enough force to break a sweat. 

Going north, you really need to bundle up, it’s not that warm but I do have to admit it was very pleasant.  The drinks are different…you can only have so much coffee before you’re screaming like a tennis player either serving or returning a serve.  I did brave the perceived weather and went to the top deck, got some balls and started to get in a little practice. 

The boat was gently moving through the water and after a few hosel rockets I found the center of the 1562 Kroydon 7 iron.  The grip most likely was a Bobby Locke inspired rubber molded as it was hard dry and slick from use with people who applied sun block before use.  I guess that is why the netting around the cage is so thick.  With each swing that found the center of target, (ok maybe it was the edges of the outer circle of the bull’s eye), a resounding thwack was reward enough.  I did not even notice when the seas got higher as I wanted to hit the center of the target.  After thirty minutes or so I again started to enjoy the coastline and about that time my bride came up finishing her walk around the deck.  “Are you done?” she asked.  Yes why?  “We have to decide whether to take a narrow gage train up to the glaciers or an ocean kayak to watch the whales.” My mind equated it easily.  Water one shot and drop or sit in a train (which is heated and no chance of getting wet).  “Let’s take the train, honey!” 

My golf balls came rolling back to me now, as I placed the Kroydon back in the holder and took the six balls back to the bartender and asked for a tropical drink.  I never could tell direction.

Tom Velarde is the Director of Golf at Black Mesa Golf Club in Espanola, New Mexico, just northwest of Santa Fe. For more information or to reach Tom, email