Runways to Fairways: Affordable, accessible golf in sunny San Diego


SAN DIEGO, Calif. – San Diego is one of my favorite cities in the world and the subject of the latest installment of Runways to Fairways, which appears on “Morning Drive” every Tuesday and Saturday:

As much as I loved getting out of the cart and knocking it close to the fog-shrouded third hole at Torrey South…

Torrey Pines No. 3

And making a memorable putt on the 18th to force a playoff ...

Torrey Pines No. 18

There was nothing better than paying $35 to play Coronado as the rising sun skipped across the neighboring San Diego Bay. The fact that I was joined by a former Navy SEAL was a bonus – and an honor.

Hiatt and Ginella

Shane Hiatt served as a SEAL for more than 16 years. BUD/s class 164, Hiatt did six deployments and saw combat in Somalia and Iraq. He’s been torn apart and put back together several times. Hiatt admits that’s true both physically and mentally.

Now he travels the country with his dog and a modified truck, “chasing the sun,” playing golf, picking up the occasional welding job and teaching people how to get “SealFit,” in which he puts willing civilians through 50-hour workout regimes. “I’m an a------, a loudmouth and I cuss a lot,” says Hiatt.

He obviously saves that side for his paying customers, because on the morning that we were together at one of my favorite public courses in the country, he was nothing but thoughtful and engaging. He was also smart, sharp, direct, self assured, philosophical and goal-oriented: “I want to be scratch by the end of the year.”


He says he’s about a 6 handicap right now. Who am I to tell him the chances of consistently shaving at least six strokes in eight months is a mission I don’t think he can accomplish? After all, this is a guy who has been dropped and drowned, tested and never rested, since high school. His swing is serviceable, but he’s forced to make allowances for his physical disabilities. Not only was he a SEAL, he has competed in more than 50 triathlons and an Ironman. If Tiger Woods is a Tour player with a bad knee who wishes he could be a SEAL, Hiatt is a SEAL with a bad elbow, shoulder and knee who wishes he could be a Tour player.

Both have a mental advantage on their competition, but only Hiatt is a hero.