Jokes, variety, and a laid back vibe mark today’s festivities at Kapalua

Home / Maui Golf Review Magazine / Jokes, variety, and a laid back vibe mark today’s festivities at Kapalua

For years, the air at Kapalua was a tad too thick for me, and I just couldn’t bring myself to go up there more than once or twice a year. This was especially bad during the Mercedes days, when everyone just seemed to think their air was purer that Mother Nature’s herself. Don’t get me wrong: head honcho Gary Planos was always nice: he’d hook me up to play whenever I was up that way, but overall, there was just some filament in the air that I think got everyone into a snit and they themselves didn’t even know how to act.

Old timers, Da Game players, and residents like Da Game Show host Dave Ward, were the exceptions, not the rule. But Kapalua’s fortunes dwindled (like everyone’s) when the crash of 2008 really took hold. And, like some aspects of our American economy, Kapalua has been clawing and bootstrapping its way ever since—even tapping an old friend (Mark Rolfing) to help, with the process. Thank Heavens! The end-result of all that humble pie is a more laid back, less stuffy Kapalua. Something Hawaii, tourists, and everyone wants.

Even the headline entertainment today, albeit somewhat unchanged, seemed a little more relaxed. I caught up with the day’s emcee, Dan Boever, a trick shot artist and the 2008 World Long Drive Champion, on the 1st tee. He was enthralled with the place, and full of good things to say along the way. But he wasn’t trying too hard. He didn’t act like he didn’t know how to act. He was natural. It was refreshing.

Today was “Family Fun Day.” Free Lunch for the first 200 kids (sponsored by CJ’s Deli); swing cages, polynesian village luau cultural activities, including spear throwing, hula lessons, and more; free all-star card giveaways; Maui Humane Society Animobile; Taiko drummers; and the main event: the Pro/Celebrity/Junior Golfer Shootout featuring defending champion Geoff Ogilvy, Rocco Mediate, Justin Rose and more!

I have never seen Kapalua do it this way, and it is a big improvement. Dan provided the light humor as the event wore on, and when it was time for the Shootout, which was played on holes 1, 2 & 9 at the Plantation Course, he kept the light-hearted momentum rolling by asking each tour pro to try and hit a nearby Hyundai car with a quasi ball (plastic, almost like a wiffle ball). Two, maybe tree attempts per player, and lobs, chips, and the like evaded the target. It gave fans something to laugh about as the play moved down the first fairway.

Central to the proceedings were the junior golfers who actually played with the pros. I saw Cassy Isagawa and Aaron Kunitomo strolling down the first fairway with two-time defending champion Geoff Ogilvy and they looked stoked. Aaron played his drive while everyone watched, including Ogilvy, and the boy did us all proud.

There are plenty of fine golf resorts around the world that rely on their good golf, not snobbery, to appeal to the consumer. Kapalua has plenty of the former, and I think the move to promote Mike Jones, and bring in Troon will only serve to improve Kapalua’s appeal. The golf and facilities are as good as it gets. Now that the attitude and come down to earthling altitude, zillions will no doubt want to come. And when they arrive, the shirts with collars buttoned to the very top will be gone. I hope!

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