85th Ladies’ Amateur

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Watch the video.

View the photo album.

Today, a field of 58 women amateur golfers teed it up at the Maui Country Club to vie for the 85th All Maui Ladies’ Amateur Championship in memory of Jim Sanders. It was a typical north shore day with a mix of sun and clouds and a good breeze.

As always, overseeing the festivities were club general manager Russell Goshi and longtime club member, past-champion, former general manager, and golfer extraordinaire Dorothy “Dot” Tam Ho, playing and emceeing like it was nothing for any ordinary 80-year-old….

She has been a beacon for women’s amateur golf on Maui, which has come a long was since the first female Valley Isle champion hoisted the perpetual golf trophy at this Sprecklesville nine-holer, Maui’s first golf course (still open)….

Today, the lady champions’ names are engraved in full, as opposed to the traditional norms of old, when wives—like the 1930 inaugural champion, Mrs. L.C. Smith—were subordinated under the names of their husbands. Yes, for the younger among us, there was actually a time when women’s first names were discarded in print and/or public domains and in place where their husband’s names instead (with only the salutation to identify them!).

But all of that became outmoded and faded away in the late 1980s, and ever since, the All Maui Ladies’ Amateur Champions have proudly displayed their own first names on their coveted trophy, thank you very much.

And, while I’d like to take credit for recognizing the old tradition, it was actually Russell who put me straight on this tid bit of trivia, among other things, I might add, as we watched the festivities unfurl today.

Russell is a real piece of work. I knew him from his days at the Diamond Resort in Wailea, but was too senile to remember those days very well, until he remained me.

I used to deliver copies of the Maui Golf Review hoping to get them in-room, or possibly even sell him an ad when he worked for that resort. I succeeded at neither, and to this day Russell (the charmer) still has me jumping through hoops for him, and for free no less! Smart fellow, he is. Smart board at the club too….

But today was all about the event and the women who support it, not so much trivial pursuits or my distractions. It was about good sport and good fun for all, as it always has, and on the links, by the sea. Some playing in this year’s event have competed here for decades. Ninety-year-old Roselle Ermitage, who drained a 12-footer while I had my camera trained on her, was born the year the Maui Country Club was founded. Back in the day, when she won this event three times (1969, 1973, 1974), “Mrs. J. Ermitage”, not Roselle Ermitage, was what was engraved on the trophy!

But she has outlived the old standard, and not only impressed me with her putting prowess, but placed in her flight to boot! (Not too shabby for the “queen of one-putts”, as she was affectionately dubbed today by her fellow competitors.)

Eighty-year-old Dot Tam Ho is, as I have already mentioned, a past champion, among other things. Her first victory was in 1967. She won the All Maui Ladies’ Amateur Championship eight times in four decades (1967, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1980, 1982, and 1992)! I make no apologies when I say that she  is truly super-human on so many levels, and was quick to invite me to all of the events at the Maui Country Club when the Maui Golf Review was just getting started in the mid-1990s.

But the heavy money was riding on another iconic Maui player, the princess of this event: nine-time (1997, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012, 2013, 2014) champion Desiree Ting. We were out on the links looking for Desiree today, but it was not to be as she struggled off the tee and has a slip-up or two around the greens. Still, like a true champion she never quit and hung in there snag a share of the prizes—only the title eluded her in 2015.

Instead, it was to go to club member Mia Hew, who in 2010 and 2011 was the only other player who managed to unseat Desiree, the living legend, from her throne of the past 13 years! (Bobbi Kokx [2004, 2008] is the other.)

Mia, who kept a low profile behind that big visor or hers today, shot a gross score of 76 in this 18-hole championship. I still got her on camera, however, and a link to our photo album flows shortly.

The 85th All Maui Ladies’ Amateur Championship saw a change in its title sponsor with the passing of Jim Saunders, the longtime Maui realtor who was memorialized today and who took over the reins in sponsoring this event after car dealer Nick Cutter, who bought Haleakala Motors from the Von Tenpshy family, dropped his sponsorship a year later. Back then, it was former champion Roselle Armitage who told Jim that it would only take “money” to keep the event alive, and from that moment on: Jim took over from there.

Jim was a well-liked man on Maui, and especially at the Maui Country club, where his home sat beside the tee on No. 4. He was also a longtime, and early, sponsor of the Maui Golf Review.

Today he was honored, as the entire field, along with their families, joined in a moment of silence to remember him. It was a solemn opportunity to reflect, and for many, his memory will remain as clear as day… for years to come.

A friend of Jim’s, a golfer in his own right, with a 7-handicap to boot, immediately took over Jim’s support of this storied event and was on hand today with his family to cheer on the winners, for all of the participants today were indeed champions in their own right.

Hands were joined and a circle formed throughout the entire 2nd floor banquet room as the participants rose to sing and share the aloha. A mountain of hand-made leis, its maker hovering to and fro to ready and present them, awaited Dottie’s announcement of the winners. A glorious lunch buffet was enjoyed by all, but only after homemade chips and salsa were served….

One by one Dorothy sang the names, and the ceremony was afoot, with smiling faces and cheers echoing in a shrill of jot. This day was theirs, thanks to so many, and especially to Jim.

Watch the video.

View the photo album.



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