Open door policy at Kaanapali event.

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“The vibe here is so different,” Dave Ward to told me this afternoon as we exited the media room at the Kaanapali Champions Skins Game at Kaanapali Golf Courses today. “They’re so full of aloha here.” he told me.

Dave lives in Kapalua, and is such a huge fan of golf, and the resort, that he actually has the Kapalua butterfly logo landscaped out of a floral patch right in his front yard. His address, which I won’t divulge, epitomizes Kapalua to the degree that the resort’s name is at its center. So, you can imagine when he, Kapalua’s biggest fan, was literally turned away, not only as a volunteer, but as the host of our golf show, Da Game, during this year’s Hyundai Tournament of Champions.

He took it in stride, while I admittedly fumed.

But I know it had to hit home for Dave, as it did for me.

Today, Dave (and I) experienced a 180-degree turn of circumstances at Kaanapali. He doesn’t own a mansion there (as he does at Kapalua), he isn’t a member there, like he was until just recently (at Kapalua), and he certainly doesn’t think as much of the Champions Tour as he does of the Regular Tour, except until, perhaps, today.

But we aren’t going to compare Tours, or at least I won’t, not here and not now.

But I do just want readers like you to know that Kaanapali is putting on Hawaii’s fourth and final Tour event, and it happens to be the only one that Dave Ward, one of the biggest golf fans I know, someone who is literally volunteering endless amounts of his time to promote the game,  was finally welcomed the way he should have been in the first place a month ago.

For that, I need to extend deserved kudos to Lee Patterson and Phil Stanbaugh, of the PGA Tour, and to Melissa Ludwig and Ed Kageyama, of Kaanapali Golf Courses. They not only showed Dave and the rest of us much needed aloha, but they erased all the bad vibes we got during the past month, from the event organizers who did little to pave the way for us to bring you a perspective on their events, that they should have been thankful to receive.

Now, those of you who have followed this blog know that I have been vocal about my disappointment in how Dave and the rest of our cast and crew were blocked from covering the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. I made a lot of noise, and I apologized for much of it, but the fact is some resorts are just more open, confident in who they are, and happy to have anyone who loves the game golf as much as we do be a part of what they are doing. Mike Jones, Scott Carroll, and many others tried at Kapalua, but when push came to shove, we were literally blocked from turning on our video cameras, and telling the world what we saw. Shameless, given the money and resources all of us here in Hawaii poured into what was, in essence, a Comcast/Golf Channel exclusive.

Maybe the same thing that we experienced was what has turned off Maui to Kapalua’s event all these years. Maybe they need to rethink their lock-down attitude and lighten up and get the sense of aloha back in their sails. Maybe then when they treat others as we’d like to be treated ourselves, maybe then they will see galleries swell.

It isn’t Tiger, it’s the vibe. Come out this weekend to Kaanapali and catch the event. The walk is full of resh sea air and the play is top notch. Best of all, these players will actually value your patronage, even if it is free!

Compare that to the likes of Rory or Phil, who couldn’t even bring themselves to dignify our islands or our event. This weekend at Kaanapali will be full of that aloha spirit we love. You won’t feel like you’re going through the TSA at Kahului airport here, you’ll feel welcome, you’ll feel aloha, and you’ll get to see the games greatest players in an intimate, personal way, unlike anything before. Be a part of Kaanapali this weekend.

You’ll be welcome at Kaanapali. That’s a promise!

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