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Jeff Clark Blog

Jeff Clark is insane. That’s how he became a legend—not a legend in golf, but in a sport that, to an outside observer, would seem to be on the other end of the spectrum.

Jeff Clark grew up on the coast of Northern California in Half Moon Bay. There, surfing is a way of life. Take a drive down Highway 1, and you’ll pass surf spot after surf spot, packed with locals outfitted in wetsuits ripping it up on the breaks that dot the rugged coastline.

Clark was just a kid when he first began riding waves. He would go out surfing with his little league team after practice in Half Moon Bay. By age 17, he couldn’t get enough of the water, and during recess, he would wander to the cliffs behind his high school. He would stare out at waves breaking close to a mile off shore in a spot that his little league coach once referred to as “Mavericks.” Clark watched the waves reach in excess of 60 feet throughout the winter months. No one before had dared to surf Mavericks. It was considered unsurfable and too dangerous. But Clark didn’t buy it.

He prepared for months, planned his attack and paddled out. His friends thought he was crazy and stayed behind to watch him from the shore. And for 15 years Clark surfed Mavericks alone.

Clark was driven to push himself to the limit, to achieve the impossible. And eventually, word spread of this big wave surf spot off Half Moon Bay. It took 15 years before professional big wave surfers from the North Shore of Hawaii joined Clark at Mavericks. One of them, Mark Foo, was claimed victim by the epic surf, and since then, Mavericks has grown to become the most infamous surf spot in the continental United States, and Clark has become a legend.

Now in his fifties, Clark continues to surf Mavericks 35 years, a hip operation and spinal fusion surgery later, but it was ten years ago when he discovered another sport that now has him completely obsessed. I traveled with a crew to interview Clark on his dual-life as a big wave surf legend and a golf-obsessed amateur who won his club championship at Half Moon Bay Golf Links.

Clark shared so many stories with us over our whirlwind trip from Orlando to Northern California. We spent time in his surf shop where he sells the boards he shapes for himself and others to surf Mavericks, which only about 200 people in the world are skilled and daring enough to do.

We set up shop for the majority of our conversations at Half Moon Bay Yacht Club, where Jeff is a member. This is not your typical yacht club. In fact, the building that houses the club was transformed from an old, weathered waterfront beach cottage that Clark briefly lived in with some surfing buddies when he was in his early twenties.

We hit Half Moon Bay Golf Links for a round of golf with Jeff and three of his friends—fellow professional surfers who also brave the waves at Mavericks. And through the misty and fog-laden air, we also ventured out on a very bumpy boat ride to Mavericks on the “Queen of Hearts.” The 60-foot-long boat is no stranger to Mavericks. It frequents the heralded surf spot, hired out each year to take surfers, photographers and spectators to the annual Mavericks Surf Contest. Twenty-four elite surfers receive a special invitation, on 24-hours notice, to fly in to Half Moon Bay to compete by surfing the biggest waves of the year for one of the biggest big-wave surf purses of the year.

Jeff Clark began it all, and it came from his drive to achieve what others deemed impossible and utterly insane. His story is one of the most incredible I’ve heard. I hope you enjoy watching the legend reveal his two passions—surfing and golf—and how he believes the two, for him, are deeply connected.