The last sanctuary: Kolbe Irei still gets his swings in

Roosevelt's Kolbe Irei is still getting his work in. Photo by Bruce Asato/Star-Advertiser.

A little normalcy is what many athletes are craving during this COVID-19 crisis.

Kolbe Irei is counting his blessings. The Roosevelt senior won his first three OIA tournaments this spring before schools were closed. He also got in the Hawaii State Amateur tourney, finishing second. But the day to day remains mostly the same.

Irei took a four-day break before hitting the links at his home course, Oahu Country Club, on Thursday. Trades 5-15 mph. Overcast. Even if weather had been inclement, Irei likely would have been there anyway. He grew up playing there, and until further notice, he will continue to get his reps on the putting green and swings on the driving range.

“I asked the pro over here if they’re going to close, but he said not as of yet, so hopefully they don’t close,” Irei said.

Perhaps optimistically, Irei believes it’s a “10-percent” chance OCC will close. Municipal courses, run by the City and County, are closed. So are parks, beaches, fields. OCC is a private golf club.

“I feel like it’s pretty safe over here because it’s a small community. Everybody knows each other. Everybody’s who’s sick would stay home,” Irei said. “I can practice more, but I also want to play tournaments. I’ll probably come here every day, play a round once or twice a week. Practice my putting and go to the range.”

Social life, of course, is not the same for anyone in this shutdown, including high school student-athletes.

“Maybe not hang out in closed areas as much. I’m washing my hands a little more,” he said.

There’s no issue with social distancing on the course. Irei practices alone.

“I want to push myself to become a better golfer every day,” he said.

He uses a Scotty Cameron putter to get some reps done on the putting green.

“It’s maybe a year (old). I got it from Barber’s Point Golf Course after I finished second in a tournament, and I got a gift certificate,” he said. “I’m pretty comfortable with it right now. It took a little while to get used to. My other putter was super light, so I needed to get a new putter. This is a little heavier. It’s all in the hands. You have to keep your hands still.”

With that, Irei hopped into a cart and drove to the range. Home, home on the range.


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