SHAPE, SURF, GOLF, REPEAT FEAT. MATTY RAYNOR
The light glows differently on this side as the morning sun rises in the east. The wind is cool and always present. It could be the trance-inducing turquoise water, but it feels like things move slower over here. We round the bend that carves out Oahu’s Windward side, and we instantly feel it. We are on island time.
Bordering the oceanfront municipal golf course of Kahuku lies the toymakers shed. The shaping bay of Mr. Matty Raynor (AKA Raynor Surf.) Matty; husband, father, surfer, and golf enthusiast, has a fascinating vocation. He creates hand-shaped surfboards, custom-designed for his wave-seeking clientele, in an intricately crafted shaping bay, a stone’s throw away from an oceanfront 9 hole, that butts up to some fantastic surf breaks (shhh, they are secret spots!)
We stopped by to drop off a fresh pair of shoes, tour his shaping bay, and pick the brain of a professional toymaker.
Tell us a little bit about what you do for work, Matty?
I design and shape custom surfboards here in Kahuku, Hawaii.
Do you find any similarities between shaping, surfing, and golf?
These are three of the most complex and compelling activities I know of. Each requires hours of dedication, patience, exhausting hours, and perseverance to even be competent, let alone be good at.
Shaping, surfing, and golf are also HIGHLY detail-oriented. Every small thing needs to be considered, and the tiniest deviations from an intended plan or approach change everything so quickly (for good or bad.)
I gravitate toward things that force me to consider ever-changing variables. Shifts in wind direction, changes in slope, and how/where your ball lies all affect which club and approach you’re gonna take. Same with surfing, really. Swell direction, wave size, ocean texture, water temperature, and tide all dictate what board you’re gonna ride and how you’re going to approach each section of each wave. With shaping, it’s the foam’s density, the rider’s size, and the intended conditions the board is supposed to work in.
This is the draw for me…high-level problem solving is entirely based on making an active assessment of changing conditions and then pulling from your past experiences to make the best of whatever your next shot or wave or board happens to be.
A ton of things can go wrong with all of these, but when they go right, there’s no better feeling.
You come from a pretty golf rich family we hear?
I think so! My grandpa was an amazing player. He had 2” of his femur blown off by a machine gun in WWII, so it was always amazing to watch this man limp around and then set up next to someone at the driving range or wherever we were and to just see people stop and watch- in awe of his swing. It was a beautiful thing! Even in his old age, club and tour pros would watch for a bit and always comment on how smooth and effortless it was.
He really schooled us grandkids at the driving range. There are 6 kids in my family, but for me and my sister Rachel, we really took to it. We played rounds as often as we could with Grandpa (which was surprisingly often!) I remember playing in tournaments at 9 or 10, maybe younger.
My sister also has one of those swings that is just gorgeous. She’s not a big girl but likely hits the ball farther and straighter than anyone else I get to play with!
You have a pretty special backyard, what is that course like?
We’re so lucky. We live on Kahuku Golf course. It’s a state-owned public course overlooking the ocean (and a couple of damn fine surf spots too!) I end up surfing out back more than anywhere else. The course itself is a pretty short, 9-hole course. Lots of wind, lots of really fun and tricky par 3’s with huge elevation changes, some fun par 4 and 5’s along with some pretty radical “public” course style greens, which keep everyone around here humble!
Got any tips for anybody planning a surf/golf trip to Hawaii?
Come to the North Shore. There’s great golf all over Hawaii, but we’re about 8 minutes from Turtle Bay Resort, two championship courses designed by Arnold Palmer and George Fazio. The Championships Tour and the PGA have had a lot of tournaments here, and its 2 miles from Velzyland, and about 6 miles from Pipeline. Golf can get pricey, have a look at Hawaii’s public courses- they’re all fun and mega challenging!