Da Game Show to cover Kaanapali Skins Game

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Strangely, PGA Tour communications manager Doug Milne never got back to me regarding our credential hold-ups at the SONY Open in Hawaii, even after I sent him two emails asking why we were never approved. Oahu resident and longtime event media host Bill Bachran has always graciously hosted us, but this year, we’ve had nothing but problems with Milne, and his partner, John Bush. Could it be that I spoke my mind and he was miffed?


You’ve all read my grovel. I was scolded by Milne, a slick guy whose job it is to handle people in the media, and I recounted. I caved. Whether or not that was the right tack is debatable, but this much I know: not all politics at the resorts in Hawaii are alike, and that goes for the people on Tour too. Da Game Show basically got snubbed at Kapalua and SONY. It’s just the plain truth, and I’m furious about it!

Quite the opposite happened at the Kaanapali Skins Game yesterday, when Kaanapali Golf Courses’ marketing manager, Melissa Ludwig, wrote me and invited us to cover her event. What? Invited? Badges are not a problem? “Sounds like a plan,” she writes?

We gleefully expressed our enthusiasm after receiving such a warm greeting, and Melissa wrote back: “I will email Lee Patterson and cc you on it so that you can provide him more details and full names for the badges.”

Funny how Melissa can make things happen at her event, yet we get a totally different, strange and truly unfortunate set of circumstances up at Kapalua and SONY.

Now Kapalua (a.k.a, Maui Land and Pineapple) has essentially been in decline ever since Steve Case’s dad convinced an unsuspecting Cameron family to entrust his son to be their white knight and angel investor. What remains of Case’s legacy is a shell of a company once the pineapple of everyone’s eye.

Instead of being the powerhouse local company it was, what essentially remains is what Case can’t sell. I didn’t realize the impact of that on the marketing people, which may have been part of the problem I experienced up there this year.

Imagine building the best American brand in golf, over decades, only to have Case sell it all off? Pity.

Just look at what he did over at Time-Warner….

But the once American-owned Kapalua golf courses will now be yet another feather in Japan’s cap. Five Maui courses are now owned by Japanese billionaires. Three more by Canadians. That makes more than half of Maui’s courses foreign-owned.

The new owner of Kapalua’s two gems is Tadashi Yanai, of Japan’s Fast Retailing Co. Ltd. He doesn’t trust the management of the courses to locals, and has hired Troon Golf of Arizona to do the job.

As case can be made for outsourcing this function as Kaanapali’s turn-around can be largely attributed to Billy Casper Golf.

And Kaanapali is is owned by a local (read: American) pension fund, which may explain why the resort has such open arms in support of not only the local media, like Da Game Show, but also anyone else who can push their name and brand farther and farther.

(In all fairness: Kapalua is not only our sponsor, but had also allowed me to cover their event, for print only. The issue is about form: Da Game Show, which is video and web-based, was essentially banned.)

Not so at Kaanapali, where the Billy Casper Golf’s Ed Kageyama and Melissa Ludwig have done a great job of not only gaining exposure for its courses and Maui, but for rebuilding its brand over the past six years like no other resort facility in Hawaii.

Considering that millions of our tax dollars are spent on the Kapalua and SONY events, in the name of promoting Hawaii as a golf destination, it is shameful that any media opportunity, including Da Game Show, would be essentially blocked from being able to provide good coverage of these two major golf tournaments in the name of promotion.

It is just strange.

Who is accountable for that? Abercrombie? The HVCB? Te Tour? The event’s organizers? Nobody will stand up and take credit. How typical.

Well, Kaanapali’s policy of opening itself up to media avenues, rather than blocking them, has brought about huge victories for the resort. Its rooms are full, its fairways are busy, and the doom and gloom up the road isn’t casting any dark shadows on this sunny strip of beach and emerald fairways that everyone loves to come to.

Expect us to do all we can to show off Kaanapali, and the game’s legends, as we work hard to ask them the questions they need to hear so they can talk up our beautiful destination. The old guys get it, and will no doubt eclipse what can only be described as a strange showing, in Hawaii, by the regular Tour in 2011.

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