It was roughly a month ago that longtime observers and surfers of Mavericks said that the early December swell was among the best days ever seen at one of the world’s biggest wave spots.

A month later, Mavs was at it again, this time allowing a longtime regular the ride of his life. In video posted over the weekend by Powerlines Production — the surf production company based in El Granada — Peter Mel, a legendary Santa Cruz surfer who has spent most of his adult life surfing Mavericks, tucked into what many are calling — at the very least — the ride of the year. Some have even gone as far to call the ride of the decade, while a small contingent say it may be one of the best rides of all time.

Regardless where it falls on the scale of best ever, there is no doubt it was a special moment in the annals of surf history. Video of the ride can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4SzNlJCHBU0&feature=youtu.be.

While casual fans may wonder why more people don’t go left often at Mavericks (it’s essentially a death wish), no one has ever asked why guys don’t look to get barreled more often when going right.

The answer is essentially the same — it’s one of the riskiest moves you can make on such a heavy wave. But last Friday, the 51-year-old Mel dropped in on a bomb, deeper than many dare to go. After a sketchy drop, Mel pulled into a barrel so big you could literally fit a semitruck inside of it.

As his board chattered along the wall of water, Mel hung on and then his style oozed all over the wave as he nearly raised his arms in victory, a “can you believe this?” moment.

I am not a surfer, but I’m a huge fan. I’ve been following Mavericks since the mid-1990s and I can’t recall ever seeing anything like that before — at least not anyone actually surfing out of the maw of the beast like Mel did.

The video is a bit of an optical illusion because of the angle from which it’s taken. It’s hard to get a true feel for how deep Mel was in the barrel. But videographers on land told SurferToday.com Mel was so covered, he could not be seen in the frame.

As he kicked out of the wave, you can hear on the video all the hooting and hollering as those in the water celebrated the accomplishment like it was their own. Mel high-fived a prone surfer as he went by before straddling his board and again giving a shoulder shrug with a big grin.

Moments later, Mel appeared contemplative as he crossed his arms and stared down at the top of his board, as the magnitude of what he accomplished started to sink in.

It’s only appropriate Mel was the one to catch such a significant ride. He’s as old-school as it gets at Mavericks, joining the likes of Jeff Clark, Grant Washburn and, over the last 15 years, Grant “Twig” Baker as guys who make it their mission to be at Mavericks whenever it’s firing. Mel’s knowledge of the wave and the time spent honing his skills in such a death-defying environment all contributed to what I’m confident in saying was the ride of his life.

***

I think it’s a pretty well-known fact that Donald Trump likes to golf. Not only does he like to play, he likes to own golf courses. Lots of them. Prestigious ones.

As much as Trump likes the game, the organizations that run the game don’t have the same fondness for him. Sunday, the PGA of America (which is not to be confused with the PGA Tour), announced it was pulling the 2022 PGA Championship tournament from what is now called Trump National Bedminster Golf Club in New Jersey. It was the site of the U.S. Women’s Open tournament in 2017. PGA of America basically said it was in response to Trump allegedly stirring up supporters to storm the Capitol last Wednesday. The organization said it wants the spotlight to be on the tournament, not who owns the property.

The PGA of America’s decision to pull the tournament from Trump National is the second major tournament, and third overall, to be moved off a Trump golf property. Turnberry was once part of the British Open rotation and is most famous for the 1977 “Duel in the Sun” between eventual winner Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus. The course last hosted a British Open in 2009, but was taken out of consideration after Trump bought the Scottish course in 2014. On the same day the PGA of America said it was moving its tournament, the Royal & Ancient Golf Club, the organization that runs golf around the world except in the United States, told BBC Sport that Turnberry would not be considered for another Open tournament, “until we are convinced that the focus will be on the championship, the players and the course itself.”

And from 1962 to 2016, there was a regular PGA Tour stop at Doral in Florida, home of the “Blue Monster.”

Trump originally purchased the course in 2012 and the tournament went on as scheduled for the next four years. But the PGA Tour pulled out of Doral after the 2016 tournament, because Trump’s persona and policies prevented the PGA Tour from finding a title sponsor for the tournament. It was subsequently moved to Mexico.

Trump better not make a play to buy Augusta National.

Nathan Mollat can be reached by email: nathan@smdailyjournal.com or by phone: 344-5200 ext. 117.

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