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The Vikings junior has dominated his competition in the Pacific Conference's first two events.

PMG PHOTO: WADE EVANSON - Forest Grove's Ka'ena Kaulia stares down a tee shot during a practice round at Forest Hills Golf Course. The Vikings junior has dominated Pacific Conference events over the first two events.Golfers typically like the sun.

But Forest Grove High School's Ka'ena Kaulia traded the warmth of Hawaii for the rainy winters of Oregon — and he couldn't be happier.

"The weather was a bit of a shock, but other than that, I've adjusted well," Kaulia said. "I love school, I've made a lot of friends and I enjoy the community. It's a different lifestyle than what I'm used to, for sure, but I enjoy it."

Kaulia also enjoys the golf, to which he's adjusted nicely as well.

Kaulia picked up the game roughly four years ago and is mostly self-taught. He and his family moved to Forest Grove this past summer primarily as a result of the complications stemming from Hawaii's strict COVID-19 policies, coupled with the heightened exposure that comes with simply being on the mainland.

While Ka'ena may be new to the area, his uncle Henry Kaulia was an icon of the community prior to his death in a car crash in 2006 at the age of 45.

PMG PHOTO: WADE EVANSON - Forest Grove's Ka'ena Kaulia hits his drive during a practice round at Forest Hills Golf Course in Cornelius.Henry Kaulia graduated from Pacific University in 1982 and was honored as the school's Male Athlete of the Year for his work on the football field. He later worked 24 years as a teacher and coach at Gaston High School, where he famously donated countless dollars to the "Special K" fund. To this day, the fund provides money for Gaston students who need help for athletic fees or equipment.

There's also an endowment in Henry Kaulia's name which is awarded to a junior or senior Hawaiian student at Pacific interested in pursuing a career in education.

Ka'ena Kaulia was just an infant when his uncle died, but he said he's certainly familiar with the legacy he left behind.

"I obviously never really got to know him, but I've heard a lot about him," he said. "He's changed a lot of people's lives."

The younger Kaulia is making his own mark on the course.

In two events this season for the Vikings boys golf team, Ka'ena Kaulia has said aloha and then aloha to his Pacific Conference competition, firing a four-under-par 68 in their season opener at Meriwether National Golf Club in Hillsboro and following that up with a three-under-par 69 in the wind and rain on the South Course at the Reserve Vineyard and Golf Club in — appropriately enough — Aloha.

PMG PHOTO: WADE EVANSON - Forest Grove's Ka'ena Kaulia hits a shot from a bunker on the second hole at Forest Hills Golf Course during a practice round April 8. Kaulia shot 68-69 in his first two rounds of the Pacific Conference's season.As a result, the junior has put 15 shots between himself and his nearest competition over the first two events. Of course, he's still looking to do better.

"I'm always happy when I post and under par score, but I for sure could've shot lower scores," Kaulia said. "I'm happy with the way my game is looking right now, but there's always room to improve."

Golf is like that. Those who play the game — even at the highest levels — will tell you how things can change day to day. One day you have it, the next you don't, but that challenge is what players enjoy.

"People will be like, 'How hard is golf, the ball isn't even moving?'" Kaulia said. "But I tell them that there's a difference between hitting a golf ball and playing golf. People really don't understand how hard golfers work to be good at what they do."

Kaulia said he spends about three to four hours every day after school, and anywhere from six to eight hours per day on the weekends, working on his craft.

"Golf is a time-consuming sport," he said, "but you need to put in the time if you want to be good."

Kaulia said the strength of his game is probably driving, while his weakness lies in his short game — something he's tirelessly working on. But whether he's having a good or bad day, by his standards, he knows that the proper mentality is critical when it comes to the game of golf and how good you either will or won't be.

PMG PHOTO: WADE EVANSON - Forest Grove's Ka'ena Kaulia study's his putting line during a practice round April 8. The Vikings junior has opened eyes to his game over the Vikings' first two events."My mentality is, 'I know golf is super-hard, so I'm not going to get too down on myself,'" he said. "And while there are definitely days when you wonder why you chose to play, I just keep working and improving and seeing how that work reflects in my game."

Kaulia does hope to someday golf professionally. But in addition, he looks forward to attending and golfing in college — maybe at the University of Oregon.

"I've been a huge Ducks fan since I can remember, so my number one goal would be playing golf at the University of Oregon," Kaulia said. "But I just really want to go to any college that has a good golf program and good academics as well, and hopefully create something from that."


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